|This is the talk page for discussing improvements to the Grammar article.|
Perceived vs. actual simplification[change source]
Not sure if "simple" should apply to the talk page or not, but there's really no other way to simplify the stuff I'm writing below due to its meta-linguistic nature:
Arguably, editors should seriously consider the perceived versus the actual simplification of common English structures in simplification due to errors in cross-translation. I'll provide a few examples, but I suggest that we open some sort of forum of discussion on this or maybe a guidelines page (unless I missed it).
- "In English, we might say..." should probably be written as, "In English, one might say;" for, if the main goal is to simplify or create ease of cross-translation, "one," and its forms in languages such as French ("on"), are actually more commonly used than their denotative counterparts are used in English (i.e., "one") as well as their colloquial counterparts ("we"). Thus, while it might be counterintuitive to make certain structures seemingly more complex (e.g. you'll rarely hear people say "In English, one might say" in common discourse), it might actually be more "simple" for the goal of communication to stick to rule-based English than conversational English, mainly because other close Latin/Greek derivative languages (Spanish, French, Italian, German) remain more heavily rule-based.
- Similar issues arise in structures containing incorrect "their" as a simple all-inclusive possessive (e.g., "Every person should wash behind their ears" as opposed to the grammatically-correct form, "Every person should wash behind his ears"). In conversational English one would less frequently hear the latter version, but in many other languages, gender ambiguity would probably be a bigger issue for a large demographic cross-section of SE Wiki and lead to greater confusion than its seemingly more-complex/rarer form ("... his ears").
- I dispute that "their ears" is incorrect in modern English. Denying it entry into the prestige dialects is the hobby-horse of a few dedicated malcontents, not the will of the people in general.
- Another hot-button issue might be the use of contractions. For conversational English speakers, "isn't" is much easier to read/say than "is not," and therefore the former is perceived as more simplified than the latter. This most definitely might not be the case for those speaking foreign languages, particularly when it comes to contractions that even English speakers cannot get right (e.g., "their/they're/there" and "it's/its").
- I also used "right" in the last sentence to denote "correct," which brings me back to the article again. In the article we also observe a potentially problematic structure: "it is right in Spanish" means "it is correct in Spanish;" however, in other languages, "right" connotatively suggests moralistic/justice-based or literal interpretations (leading to reading the sentence as "... it is justified in Spanish" or "... it is to the left in Spanish"). Despite "right" being seemingly simpler, "correct" is actually the better choice. Interestingly, you might even write a dissertation on the confusion of "right" and "wrong" with their parallels of "correct" and "incorrect" as a serious problem in American politics today, but I digress. :P
SO, long story short (sorry, guys), all of these are comparable to the "good/well" conundrum in the sense that one must weigh perceived simplification with actual simplification-- depending on your audience. If SE Wiki is targeting Alabama rednecks, then "good" should prevail, while if we're targeting the greatest possible demographic, "well" should prevail. It cannot really harm fluent English speakers for SE Wiki to use grammatically-correct structures, as fluent speakers already have a considerable base for inference on uncomfortable, seemingly complex sentence structures.
The problem then arises when fluent English speakers invariably come to make edits to pages in order to simplify them in their eyes. Anyway, I've written enough. Talk amongst yourselves. :P
--Koder 23:29, 19 May 2007 (UTC)
Some people use grammar that is different from others' when speaking. They might say, "I didn't do nothing" rather than "I didn't do anything." They usually do this because that is what is normal in their family or the area where they live.
I think that is being very relativistic. I do not think anybody would say that "I didn’t do nothing" is acceptable speech. It is a “double negative” and is universally considered incorrect in modern English. –Wulf (talk) 05:25, 17 February 2008 (UTC)
- Take it up with William Shakespeare. The double negative has long been a feature of various dialects that aren't the prestige dialects in their respective regions, but lacking prestige does not make you incorrect. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 188.8.131.52 (talk • contribs)
Always using Spanish?[change source]
- No, it would open the door to all sorts of languages being used for example. In fact, the page should probably should using Spanish as an example. I'm not sure it is needed. I think only examples from English grammar should be used. fr33kman talk 18:59, 14 July 2009 (UTC)