Zompist books feedback

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JeremyHussell
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Re: Zompist books feedback

Post by JeremyHussell »

JeremyHussell wrote:I'm not sure if I should be pointing out incorrect usage of "here's" anymore. Is it becoming standard, the way "try and" has replaced "try to" or 'they' and 'their' are starting to be used as singular pronouns? To me these usages seem colloquial, and in the cases of "here's" and "try and" signal a lack of education. Too strict and judgmental? Or should the author of a book that's mostly about linguistics be especially careful about these things?

zompist wrote:Well, corrections are helpful. With your previous post you seemed to be verging into insult instead , and that's less helpful. Copy editors like QA, can get a little annoying if they point out the same thing multiple times, especially if they insinuate that they're due to some sort of character flaw. In this case, it's an informal construction, and I purposely write informally. I might well change it as it's not that important, but pointing it out once suffices.

Alright. I'll take that as "Yes, you are being too strict and judgmental," and I'll take a break for a bit and think about how to improve my tone.

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Re: Zompist books feedback

Post by Chuma »

My apologies too if we seem judgmental. I know I don't enjoy it when people point out writing issues in things I write. (Just the other day, some engineer claimed I had misplaced a comma. Hah! Boy did he get his fish warm.)

I am fervently enjoying ALC, and will continue to read anything you write, unless, like Fredrik Lindström, you stop making awesome linguistics books and start making weird poetry instead. When I occasionally find something that looks like it might be a misprint, or I have some other comment, I'm happy to point it out, to maybe help make a great book even better. Of course, I'm neither a professional linguist nor a native speaker of English, so most of the time I've probably just misunderstood things.

Here's one, for example: On ALC page 119, it says
"Not all transitives are alike: the experiencer in John swerved is a lot more active than the one in The window broke. ACTIVE-STATIVE or SPLIT-S languages treat the more..."

I'm wondering, a) should that be "Not all intransitives..."? and b) does that mean that "active-stative" and "split-S" are synonyms? I had previously understood "active-stative" to be synonymous with "split intransitive".

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Re: Zompist books feedback

Post by Dewrad »

Zompist books feedback thread, post 24: "Editing work like this is an interesting past-time for me." past-time -> pastime.
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Re: Zompist books feedback

Post by Salmoneus »

Whilst I too find plural "here's", and "try and", extremely irritating, the real mark of an ill-educated writer is the belief that singular "they" is something that is "starting" to be used...
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Re: Zompist books feedback

Post by JeremyHussell »

Dewrad wrote:Zompist books feedback thread, post 24: "Editing work like this is an interesting past-time for me." past-time -> pastime.

Thanks, fixed.

Salmoneus wrote:Whilst I too find plural "here's", and "try and", extremely irritating, the real mark of an ill-educated writer is the belief that singular "they" is something that is "starting" to be used...

In this case it's the mark of over-education by a particularly regressive English-grammar teacher. Sometimes flexible thinking, inquisitiveness, and the ability to admit one's own errors are qualities obtained despite one's education.

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Re: Zompist books feedback

Post by zompist »

Jeremy, where are you from? I'm wondering if this is a regional thing.

I think "there's" and "here's" are on the way to becoming an existential construction unmarked for plurality. A few random examples from Googling:

"There is a new handshake and a new salute."
"If there is a Higgs field and a Higgs boson (or 4 minus 2 :) ) doesn't that mean there is a Higgs force?"
"[T]here is a problem and a solution to the problem"
"By the end of the century there is a Portuguese trading station and a mission run by Augustinian friars."
"In every crisis there's a winner and a loser."
"We'll also discover that there's some issues and limitations with patterns that can be addressed by proper knowledge of frameworks."
"Here's some tips and tricks to keep your laptop battery healthy."
"[H]ere's some pen and ink drawings he did back when we lived in West Germany"
"Here’s a map and a quick explanation of where your drone can go."
"Here's a few of those bronze statues."
"And again, there's many things I wish in retrospect I could do differently, but I was scared."

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Re: Zompist books feedback

Post by JeremyHussell »

zompist wrote:Jeremy, where are you from? I'm wondering if this is a regional thing.
Norfolk County, Ontario. It's a rural county where a lot of British loyalists settled during/after the American Revolution. (And yes, that's still important to some of the residents, to a surprising degree. Tip: do not suggest that Canada should drop Queen Elizabeth as head of state while talking to elderly residents of Norfolk County.) So, an area with a mixture of British and American usages. What was taught to me in elementary school depended on the background of the particular teacher.

I don't have enough background in phonetics to accurately describe what "Here're" sounds like in my dialect, but the syllable-final r is definitely not dropped, and the two rs are distinct from one another. In dialects which drop syllable final r, I imagine it's a practical necessity to use 's instead.

zompist wrote:I think "there's" and "here's" are on the way to becoming an existential construction unmarked for plurality. A few random examples from Googling:
Surely there's a more authoritative source than Googling? Examples of every grammatical error can be found that way, not to mention every other sort of error. That said, I'm certainly aware of how widespread the usage is, especially in speech.

I'm comfortable using "here's" and "there's" with singular nouns joined by a conjunction, e.g., "In every crisis there's a winner and a loser." In my head that reads as "... there's a winner and there's a loser" with the repeated subject and verb omitted. It's only when plurals appear that my brain insists 'are' should replace 'is'.

I suppose the real question is how an author should balance (a) making some readers more comfortable by writing informally, and (b) avoiding irritating some readers with "errors".

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Re: Zompist books feedback

Post by KathTheDragon »

What you're looking for when googling examples of usages is the number of hits. Again, it's not totally authoritative, but it does give an indication. To see that it does work, google something horribly incorrect.

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Re: Zompist books feedback

Post by Nesescosac »

COCA, yo. Or BNC if that's your thing.
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Re: Zompist books feedback

Post by JeremyHussell »

PCK, page 44: the diagram which (I presume) shows the difference between a sidereal and a solar day is cut off at the bottom of the page. Perhaps post the full image on the PCK resources page as an errata?

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Re: Zompist books feedback

Post by 2+3 clusivity »

Salmoneus wrote:the real mark of an ill-educated writer is the belief that singular "they" is something that is "starting" to be used...


If you and a companion look in the distance and see a single person of indeterminate gender doing some action, do you ask your companion:

A) What are they doing?

B) What is he/she doing?
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Re: Zompist books feedback

Post by KathTheDragon »

I think Sal intended the emphasis to be on 'starting'.

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Re: Zompist books feedback

Post by Neon Fox »

I found what I think are a couple of typos in ALC over the past few weeks. Page numbers are from the Kindle edition:
p26: "can't think of the moment" appears to be missing "at"
p78: "favor" should probably be "flavor"

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Re: Zompist books feedback

Post by zompist »

I'm getting a hardcover edition of the Language Construction Kit together, and the first step is to update the text. If there's any errors you've found, please mention them here or e-mail me ASAP.

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Re: Zompist books feedback

Post by Dē Graut Bʉr »

zompist wrote:I'm getting a hardcover edition of the Language Construction Kit together, and the first step is to update the text. If there's any errors you've found, please mention them here or e-mail me ASAP.


Couldn't resist it.

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Re: Zompist books feedback

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zompist wrote:I'm getting a hardcover edition of the Language Construction Kit together, and the first step is to update the text. If there's any errors you've found, please mention them here or e-mail me ASAP.


Since you're reissuing old material anyway, why not rerelease both LCK and the ALCK as a single volume? "Complete Language Construction, 600 pp, hardcover, with a new foreword" sounds pretty appealing, I think.
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Post by zompist »

That's a good idea! I will look into the pricing.

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Re: Zompist books feedback

Post by zompist »

I just read through this thread again, making corrections. It's amazing to me that I can read the same text multiple times and just not see some of these things. I don't know how proofreaders train their brains to find everything.

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Re: Zompist books feedback

Post by Kereb »

do you ever employ a second set of eyes
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Re: Zompist books feedback

Post by zompist »

(Edited): Yes, this has occurred to me. I've had people read all my books before publication. As you'll see in the preface to about every academic book ever, the author remains responsible for any errors.

(If by "employ" you meant paying proofreaders, I don't have any money for that.)

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Re: Zompist books feedback

Post by Kereb »

naw I was just curious, I didn't mean to imply anything about hiring anyone
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Re: Zompist books feedback

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JeremyHussell wrote:
zompist wrote:I suppose the real question is how an author should balance (a) making some readers more comfortable by writing informally, and (b) avoiding irritating some readers with "errors".

Therein lies the problem. English has far too many dialects for everyone to agree on the details of the language's grammar. I can think of three solutions: we can accept variation amongst dialects that exists today, establish a central institution to control the language, or we can abandon English entirely. Only the first seems practical to me.
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Re: Zompist books feedback

Post by Birdlang »

I got Advanced Language Construction. Is the font Linux Libertine? I have had it on a Windows computer before.
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Re: Zompist books feedback

Post by zompist »

Yep. I needed a font with all the IPA characters, and it was the nicest.

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Re: Zompist books feedback

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Re: The recent blog post

I hereby lobby for a Quechua grammar, and would be interested to know how near we are to seeing Hanying, if you have a forecast on that.

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