Re: Getting beyond the ping pong match (was RE: Cleaning House)

On May 7, 2007, at 6:22 AM, Mark Birbeck wrote:

> Henri,
>> The point is exploring *if* they can be interpreted using existing
>> practice as a guide. This is subtly different from just using a
>> dictionary: if research showed that a non-word string was
>> consistently used to denote something useful, a dictionary would not
>> have to be involved. Since it is improbable that the string
>> "copyright" would appear accidentally without someone thinking of the
>> concept of copyright while writing the string, it is reasonable to
>> assume that the string is motivated by the concept.
> But the logical error that is being made by the proposal is to
> conclude that you are able to _infer_ one author's intent from that of
> others. Since there is nothing in the HTML spec that says that
> @class="copyright" means _anything_ at a global level, then even if
> 100 authors use it in the way that is being suggested, you *cannot*
> infer from that anything about author 101.

That's like saying you can't infer anything about a speaker's use of  
the word "hella" (a Northern California slang term) because it's not  
in the dictionary. Speakers are still pretty consistent about what  
they mean, even though no formal authority has sanctioned it.

In other words, this is just Descriptivism vs. Prescriptivism again.


Received on Monday, 7 May 2007 18:45:43 UTC