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  1. #61
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    Who cares who's the authority; as long as the computation is rule governed the authority stands correct.
    Meanwhile, in the real world, it can matter a great deal who the authority is.

    Of course, this isn't a linguistic problem per se; it's a cultural problem, since we in the west attatch great importance to what is actually recorded. In such a culture, if you don't have a strictly adhered-to standard -- artificial though it may be -- you can very quickly run into serious trouble. In this case, the final authority was the judge who based his judgement on prescriptive grammar rules concerning the use of commas.

    Whilst it is certainly true that everyone follows grammar rules even if those rules deviate from the established or prescribed norm, in our culture it is still essential that people at least know the prescriptive rules (aside from such petty fabrications -- unsupported, incidentally, by any authority, despite what some people on both sides of the debate have suggested -- like "never split an infinitve") and are able to apply them where necessary and appropriate.

    I think my misgivings from this idea that all idiolects are equal probably have to do with the fact that this idea fits in too well with the current fashion for "all things are equal". I have no problem with that, but I do have a problem with teachers taking this as a signal not to bother teaching grammar at all.

  2. #62
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Hey, rewboss.

    Ooh. Another example of victim chic.

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    Ah, yes, contractual law, and 'real' as in the world of $$. Right. You would have thunk the lawyer(s) who drew up the contract would've known better, given that in that particular field of Law language is somewhat their specialty, right? Ahem, they make a living at it. It's their bread 'n butter. And yet Robertson, the author of the Globe & Mail article, doesn't bring up that issue at all, but rather pushes victim chic by placing blame on punctuation. Oh, the poor company. (Brings to mind that poor panda who "eats, shoots and leaves.")

    Imagine! It took the lawyers and the CRTC 18-months to come to a conclusion. OK. I don't know if it's just me that sees this, but would it take you 18 months to figure out that the underlined portion below modifies "and thereafter for successive five year terms"?
    The agreement “shall continue in force for a period of five years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five year terms unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.”
    But add a comma after "and thereafter for successive five year terms" and the underlined portion results in, "shall continue in force for a period of five years from the date it is made,...,unless or until terminated by one year prior notice... ." Which is exactly what Aliant. Inc. did.
    The agreement “shall continue in force for a period of five years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.”
    The 2nd comma cannot be ignored; It's contractual law and, moreover, contracts don't punctuate themselves; the lawyers aren't the victims here. This is not a case of prescriptivism versus descriptivism as Robertson would have us believe. It's a valid error. The CRTC was correct, and the author makes them out to be the oppressors. On the contrary, they're victims of victim chic.

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss
    Of course, this isn't a linguistic problem per se;
    Actually, I'd say it falls in under socio-linguistics.

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss
    ..it's a cultural problem, since we in the west attatch great importance to what is actually recorded.
    In the sense of contractual law, yes. By the by, two of my MBA students who practiced law in China tell me that 'what is actually recorded' is of great importance in the east. Again, we're talking about a specific type of language, the kind used in contractual law.

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss
    In such a culture, if you don't have a strictly adhered-to standard -- artificial though it may be -- you can very quickly run into serious trouble.
    By 'a strictly adhered-to standard', do you mean standard punctuation rules? And if so, does that mean you think the punctuation (the 2nd comma) is non-standard usage?

    The reason I ask. That's what's implied here,

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss
    In this case, the final authority was the judge who based his judgement on prescriptive grammar rules concerning the use of commas.
    Are you ... certain the CRTC based their conclusion on prescriptive grammar rules? You see, the article reads,
    “Based on the rules of punctuation,” the comma in question “allows for the termination of the [contract] at any time, without cause, upon one-year's written notice,” the regulator said.
    There's no mention of a prescribed rule. The fact of the matter is, there's nothing grammatically wrong with the 2nd comma; it simply changes the meaning of the sentence. Again, we're talking about contractual law.

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss
    Whilst it is certainly true that everyone follows grammar rules even if those rules deviate from the established or prescribed norm, in our culture it is still essential that people at least know the prescriptive rules (...)and are able to apply them where necessary and appropriate.
    I most definitely agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss
    I think my misgivings from this idea that all idiolects are equal probably have to do with the fact that this idea fits in too well with the current fashion for "all things are equal".
    I definitely disagree. All idiolects are not 'equal'. I've yet to come across the current fashion for "all things are equal." Could you expand on that?

    Maybe I misunderstood your meaning.

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss
    ...I do have a problem with teachers taking this as a signal not to bother teaching grammar at all.
    You've lost me.

    Happy New Year's!

  3. #63
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    In biology, a slight "mutation" in a genetic computation and TA-DA! there's a platypus. Deviant, yes, but nonetheless the result of the inner workings of a rule governed system.
    Hello Cas, happy New Year!

    If I catch your drift:

    1. Linguistic variants emerge, by accident, design, misunderstanding, etc.
    2. Those variants that express (or attract) useful meaning survive.
    3. Those variants that don't, don't.

    Survival of course would entail "parseability": at least some addressees must discern meaning in the variant.

    Thus if "between you and I" expresses, for some speakers, e.g. a sense of politeness that could not be conveyed by "between you and me", it doesn't matter that not all speakers extract that meaning; or even that to some speakers, it's slightly irritating. If the "politees" outnumber the "irritatees", it will eventually prevail.

    Or have I put the wrong words in your mouth?

    MrP

  4. #64
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Happy New Year!


    My gist. Linguistic variants (no matter how deviant they may appear to be) are still rule-governed. We might not be able to understand the rule or rules right now; nevertheless, there are rules. To adopt your example,
    "between you and I" expresses, for some speakers, e.g. a sense of politeness that could not be conveyed by "between you and me",
    And, yes, 'it doesn't matter that not all speakers extract that meaning'. Either the speaker knows (ahem, via innate knowledge) that there's a nuance in meaning and therefore uses both (regardless of whether 'to some speakers, it's irritating') or the speaker doesn't know there's a nuance and uses one or the other, never both.

    The fact that a speaker uses both tells us there's a rule operating there somewhere. The fact that some speakers don't use both tells us they haven't learned the rule yet. They're... behind the times, sort to speak.
    Last edited by Casiopea; 13-Jan-2007 at 14:29.

  5. #65
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    And, yes, 'it doesn't matter that not all speakers extract that meaning'. Either the speaker knows (ahem, via innate knowledge) that there's a nuance in meaning and therefore uses both (regardless of whether 'to some speakers, it's irritating') or the speaker doesn't know there's a nuance and uses one or the other, never both.
    Is it as straightforward as that, though?

    Our two male sparrows respond spontaneously to a stimulus: the presence of a female. Certain physiological phenomena occur: one sparrow utters X, the other utters Y. The scientist makes a note; but his note doesn't affect the sparrow's chirping.

    With members of Homo sapiens, on the other hand, it's slightly different. Most of the time, we utter our squeaks and burbles quite spontaneously; but sometimes the rules become conscious.

    For instance, I may have been persuaded to switch to "between you and I" on the strength of this discussion: I might make a conscious decision to override my innate "between you and me".

    Or I might adopt various phrases because my attractive green-eyed neighbour uses them, even though they seem painfully odd.

    I might even become terminally bewildered and "desensitized" to a rule – e.g. the one that tells me when to say "if it weren't for the fact" rather than "if it wasn't for the fact" – after far too much hanging around on Linguistics forums discussing "subjunctives".

    If that's the case, though, can we still talk about the "innate authority" of the speaker?

    In effect, the speaker has trumped his linguistic rules with metalinguistic considerations.

    MrP

  6. #66
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Quote Originally Posted by MrP
    Our two male sparrows respond spontaneously to a stimulus: the presence of a female. Certain physiological phenomena occur: one sparrow utters X, the other utters Y. The scientist makes a note; but his note doesn't affect the sparrow's chirping.
    Not unless sparrows read.

    Now, if there were a Z-chirper and that chirper got the best females, then X and Y-chirpers might just change their tunes.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrP
    ...I might adopt various phrases because my attractive green-eyed neighbour uses them, even though they seem painfully odd.
    Aah and there it is! Speakers own the language they speak.

    As you know, there are various reasons why speakers choose to use one variant or the other. Some are attributed to innate knowledge (e.g., that's the way I've always used it), others attributed to conscious decisions (e.g., that's the way the BBC uses it), and yet others to metalinguistic considerations (e.g., that's the way my family uses it and this is the way my colleagues use it). There are choices and the variants are rule-governed.

    I ... don't (think) I use the phrase "between you and I". It's a conscious choice on my part. Which isn't to say I think it's incorrect or ungrammatical or sub-standard or even non-standard. It's just that it doesn't seem to fit into the way I use language. I might use "between us" - it's more efficient, not to mention seems more equitable to me. (One day, the likes of "between you and I" and "between you and me" will fall by the wayside. There's just way too much confusion there. The less efficient the variant, the less likely it'll survive.)

  7. #67
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    I didn't offer recursion as a theory; Chomsky did, or some believe he did.

    MikeNewYork is talking about theories...........hmmmmmmmm.
    I think I must not disturb him.
    HELLO!!! :)

  8. #68
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    Default Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    ProudToBeMuslim, Mike made that comment eleven months ago. Do you have something to say on the subject of this thread?

  9. #69
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    Wink Re: Deficiencies in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    ProudToBeMuslim, Mike made that comment eleven months ago. Do you have something to say on the subject of this thread?

    No. :)
    I just wanted to say hello to Mike and I did.

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