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RE: xpath-datamodel comments - grammar/punctuation/clarity/typos

From: Michael Kay <mhk@mhk.me.uk>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 23:24:33 +0100
To: "'Daniel Barclay'" <daniel@fgm.com>
Cc: <public-qt-comments@w3.org>
Message-ID: <E1BxvLH-0004PX-23@frink.w3.org>

Over the years I have learnt to make the rules I was taught at primary
school my servant, not my master. The first test is whether the text is
clear and unambiguous, the second test is whether it is enjoyable to read.
Whether or not it conforms to rules taught by the old-fashioned kind of
grammar textbook worries me little. Apart from anything else, I have
discovered that the rules that Americans get uptight about are completely
different from the rules that the British get uptight about, even though the
rules are technically the same. Americans tend to worry about "which" and
"that", the British worry about split infinitives and
prepositions-at-the-end-of-a-sentence, but in each case we read what the
other side writes without difficulty.

I am not defending Norm's choice of punctuation, I am only defending his
editorial freedom. (Another splice comma!) (And a sentence with no verb!)

I am sure Norm will choose to apply some of the changes you suggest.

Michael Kay 


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Daniel Barclay [mailto:daniel@fgm.com] 
> Sent: 19 August 2004 22:39
> To: Michael Kay
> Cc: public-qt-comments@w3.org
> Subject: Re: xpath-datamodel comments - 
> grammar/punctuation/clarity/typos
> 
> Michael Kay wrote:
> 
> >>>Good writers of English know when to break that rule.
> >>
> >>Oh, great.  I try to help clarify the specification and you start
> >>off with an ad hominem attack.
> > 
> > 
> > No, not at all, it was an ad hominem defence of the editor.
> 
> Are you claiming that I was attacking the editors' abilities when all
> I ever addressed was the state of the text, or did you mean something
> else?
> 
> >>So, how do you argue that the comma isn't wrong and shouldn't be a
> >>semicolon (or other alternatives)?  
> > 
> > 
> > Lynne Truss: "Now, so many highly respected writers adopt 
> the splice comma
> > that a rather unfair rules emerges on this one: only do it if you're
> > famous.... E. M. Forster did it; Smoerset Maugham did it; 
> the list is
> > endless. Done knowingly by an established writer, the comma 
> splice is
> > effective, poetic, dashing... Done ignorantly by ignorant 
> people, it is
> > awful."
> > 
> > Norm Walsh is famous, give him the benefit of the doubt. [sic].
> 
> You still seem to be dodging the issue.  I gave my analysis of why
> the particular case should use the standard semicolon.  What's your
> counter-analysis?
> 
> Also, notice that your Truss quote uses semicolons as I argue and not
> commas as you argue.
> 
> Additionally, the specification doesn't need to be poetic or dashing,
> and, as my analysis showed, a comma splice is _less_ effective, not
> more.
> 
> Why do you object to clarifying the wording of the specification?
> 
> (On the philosophical side, given that the specification itself
> consists of rules to follow to make sure things work right, why
> would you object to following standard rules?
> 
> On the practical side, why would you object to following standard
> rules so the text is easier to understand?  Technical documentation
> is usually complex enough to start with that it should follow
> standard rules to try to be as clear as possible.  Additionally,
> not being literature, its audience is different, probably including
> a lot more people for whom English is not their native language.)
> 
> 
> Daniel
> 
> 
Received on Thursday, 19 August 2004 22:25:07 UTC

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