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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:09 am 
Avisaru
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This isn't strictly linguistic, but I don't know where else to put it. Bear in mind that I'm quoting from my memory of something I read nearly twenty years ago.

Different cultures have different ways of presenting information in handbooks and instruction manuals. Here are the three I remember:


The American tradition typically presents the information hierarchically, so that the reader can find specific items quickly and easily.

The German tradition typically begins with several chapters explaining the history of the subject, so that the reader will be reassured that the subject is not trivial.

The Japanese tradition approaches the subject obliquely, establishing a setting in which the reader will feel at ease and comfortable with assimilating new information.


What other traditions do y'all know about? This could be an interesting addendum to the Culture Tests.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:13 am 
Smeric
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alice wrote:
The German tradition typically begins with several chapters explaining the history of the subject, so that the reader will be reassured that the subject is not trivial.

That's dying, though. Most often it's one chapter or even only a few paragraphs of history now. And then many handbooks seem to be translations from English, or done in an American style.

That reminds me of that old anecdote - a German, an Englishman, and a Frenchman are tasked with writing about lions. The German locks himself in a library for twenty years and writes a ten-volume universal history of the lion, compiling and evaluating everything that has ever been written about lions. The Englishman goes to live in Africa for ten years, studying lions in the wild, and writes a one-volume account of his observations. The Frenchman spends an afternoon in the zoo and writes a twenty-page essay "Méditations sur le lion".


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:53 am 
Smeric
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What kind of handbooks do you have in mind? This just reminded me of a book I have in Malayalam with the script of a Kathakali play. Most of the book is just background information about Kathakali and this particular play, the various adaptations of this play that have historically been performed over the years, etc. All of this comes before the actual script, which is accompanied with lots of footnotes (there are so many footnotes that each page only has a few actual lines of the play). Then I think there are a few essays by several professors who specialize in Kathakali, traditional drumming, or other such pertinent subjects at the back of the book regarding this play. I don't know whether this is standard practice for these kinds of books or not.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:30 pm 
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That would be standard practice in France, especially chez Larousse. I have several editions of French plays which have a huge structure of critical apparatus.

I think the American/British preference is only enough apparatus so you can read the text. You could put everything in a critical edition, but only libraries would buy it.

(I love Hans-Werner's anecdote, though surely we should add that the Méditations would be exquisitely written. Claude Lévi-Strauss's memoirs, Tristes tropiques, includes a 10-page essay from his diary about a storm he saw. He describes the hell out of that storm.)


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:29 pm 
Avisaru
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Zompist, didn't you once write about how academics love to start their books by defining their subject at length, and how, in your opinion, readers might as well skip to chapter 2, where authors tend to forget their own definitions and actually start to talk about things?


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:33 pm 
Avisaru
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hwhatting wrote:
That reminds me of that old anecdote - a German, an Englishman, and a Frenchman are tasked with writing about lions. The German locks himself in a library for twenty years and writes a ten-volume universal history of the lion, compiling and evaluating everything that has ever been written about lions. The Englishman goes to live in Africa for ten years, studying lions in the wild, and writes a one-volume account of his observations. The Frenchman spends an afternoon in the zoo and writes a twenty-page essay "Méditations sur le lion".


In a version of that anecdote told by Ha-Joon Chang that he reportedly heard in Finland, the topic is elephants, and the last writer is a Finn who writes a book titled "What Does The Elephant Think About The Finns?".


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:09 pm 
Avisaru
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Raphael wrote:
hwhatting wrote:
That reminds me of that old anecdote - a German, an Englishman, and a Frenchman are tasked with writing about lions. The German locks himself in a library for twenty years and writes a ten-volume universal history of the lion, compiling and evaluating everything that has ever been written about lions. The Englishman goes to live in Africa for ten years, studying lions in the wild, and writes a one-volume account of his observations. The Frenchman spends an afternoon in the zoo and writes a twenty-page essay "Méditations sur le lion".


In a version of that anecdote told by Ha-Joon Chang that he reportedly heard in Finland, the topic is elephants, and the last writer is a Finn who writes a book titled "What Does The Elephant Think About The Finns?".


Do I detect a lightbulb joke emerging?

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:33 pm 
Avisaru
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Raphael wrote:
Zompist, didn't you once write about how academics love to start their books by defining their subject at length, and how, in your opinion, readers might as well skip to chapter 2, where authors tend to forget their own definitions and actually start to talk about things?


Some authors do get carried away with this sort of thing. Often the most use you get out of introduction chapters is a summary of the relevant background literature, or alternatively what the author has produced before. There's also a wealth of academic papers where the authors repeatedly summarise what they've just written in the past paragraphs of what they are going to discuss next. That though, as I see it, is more a measure of how confident the authors are in their own writing style and not as much where they come.

Raphael wrote:
In a version of that anecdote told by Ha-Joon Chang that he reportedly heard in Finland, the topic is elephants, and the last writer is a Finn who writes a book titled "What Does The Elephant Think About The Finns?".


Whatever variant of the joke you hear, I think the titles mostly boil down to "How to tame the elephant?" and "What does the elephant think of me?", which gives some insight into the histories of the countries in question.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:45 am 
Avisaru
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zompist wrote:
That would be standard practice in France, especially chez Larousse. I have several editions of French plays which have a huge structure of critical apparatus.

I think the American/British preference is only enough apparatus so you can read the text. You could put everything in a critical edition, but only libraries would buy it.

(I love Hans-Werner's anecdote, though surely we should add that the Méditations would be exquisitely written. Claude Lévi-Strauss's memoirs, Tristes tropiques, includes a 10-page essay from his diary about a storm he saw. He describes the hell out of that storm.)


Oh yes. And the footnotes, oh god, the footnotes. Also, as a rule, the critical apparatus should be entirely irrelevant.
The real mystery is that Larousse editions are typically aimed at middle-schoolers who have no use for a long scholarly discussion of Molière's work. What they could use, though, is a few notes on lexical change and word usage, but apparently your average French twelve year old can be trusted to figure out on his own what bouter means or that the meaning of coquin, baiser and bastonner have changed since the 17th century.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 3:08 pm 
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My favorite part is the overlong "introduction" that casually spoils all the plot twists, and is basically incomprehensible if you haven't already read and studied the play.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:12 pm 
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Ryusenshi wrote:
My favorite part is the overlong "introduction" that casually spoils all the plot twists, and is basically incomprehensible if you haven't already read and studied the play.

Anymore if I'm reading a book with any kind of critical apparatus, I put off reading it until the end for exactly this reason. Like I'll read the translator's note (if there is one), since in addition to satisfying my curiosity what it tells me about how names and titles are handled is generally valuable, and that's it.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:29 pm 
Smeric
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Raphael wrote:
hwhatting wrote:
That reminds me of that old anecdote - a German, an Englishman, and a Frenchman are tasked with writing about lions. The German locks himself in a library for twenty years and writes a ten-volume universal history of the lion, compiling and evaluating everything that has ever been written about lions. The Englishman goes to live in Africa for ten years, studying lions in the wild, and writes a one-volume account of his observations. The Frenchman spends an afternoon in the zoo and writes a twenty-page essay "Méditations sur le lion".


In a version of that anecdote told by Ha-Joon Chang that he reportedly heard in Finland, the topic is elephants, and the last writer is a Finn who writes a book titled "What Does The Elephant Think About The Finns?".

Actually, the anecdote ends with “The Elephant and Poland's National Sovereignty”. :P

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:34 pm 
Smeric
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linguoboy wrote:
Anymore if

I think this may be the first time I've ever encountered this construction.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 5:24 pm 
Sumerul
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Vijay wrote:
linguoboy wrote:
Anymore if

I think this may be the first time I've ever encountered this construction.

It is ungrammatical in the English I am used to.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:16 pm 
Avisaru
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It's just the "positive anymore" ≅ "nowadays", right? http://ygdp.yale.edu/phenomena/positive-anymore, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_anymore


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:55 pm 
Smeric
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Travis B. wrote:
Vijay wrote:
linguoboy wrote:
Anymore if

I think this may be the first time I've ever encountered this construction.

It is ungrammatical in the English I am used to.

Same.
Sumelic wrote:

Here, I interpreted it to mean "from now on."


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 9:22 pm 
Sumerul
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Positive anymore is firmly ungrammatical to me, and not simply in the prescriptive sense of "ungrammatical".

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Amuhawr jalla vowa vta hlakrhi hdm duthmi xaja.
Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 9:42 pm 
Smeric
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It is to me, too. That would seem to make sense since it's only limited to certain varieties of English. I'm of the opinion that if other people use positive anymore, well, they do, I don't, and that's all there is to it.


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