python vs c#
steve at holdenweb.com
Fri Oct 1 08:34:33 CEST 2004
Jan Dries wrote:
> Bengt Richter wrote:
> [... ]
>>I almost posted a similar comment ;-) OTOH ...
>>How many relevant points do you need to start a debate?
Well, terrific. Now I get to talk about one of my pet peeves. A friend
just gave me a bumper sticker which, as a true (but hopefully liberal)
pedant I had real trouble with. It reads "Some village in Texas is
missing their idiot", and the reason for my perplexity was, while I feel
the sentiment it expresses is admirable (though perhaps mistaken: I only
wish George W Bush *were* as stupid as he manages to appear), I have to
take issue with the grammar used to express it.
This particular pickle is a disagreement of number: since there is only
one village, the correct slogan should be "... is missing its idiot". If
you thought it was "... it's idiot" then take two demerits and refrain
from posting on c.l.py for 48 hours.
>>How would you answer that question?
>>A few is enough?
>>A few are enough?
Wrong. "Some few are enough" might be acceptable. If there's only one
few then the number of the verb has to agree with he number of the noun,
so they should both be singular.
>>A few relevant points suffices, or a few relevant points suffice?
The latter, again to ensure agreement of number.
>>A small number suffices, or a small number suffice?
The former, again for the same reason.
>>A dozen is sufficient?
Indeed it is.
>>A dozen are sufficient?
This is a difficult call, because their is an implied subject of
discourse. Technically I'd still insist that "A dozen eggs is
sufficient" is the more correct, but I might let you get away with "a
dozen eggs *are* sufficient" on the grounds that there the eggs (plural)
are the subject rather than the dozen (singular).
>>I suspect that there are some semantic subtleties at work.
There certainly are. And one of the frustrations of living in America id
watching those semantic subtleties dying if neglect at the hands of
people who simply don;t realize that teaching people to *speak*
correctly is teaching them to *think* correctly. I'm actually quite a
visual thinker, but ultimately I believe that most of our intellectual
product is the result of an internal, verbal, dialogue.
>>I.e., when you focus mentally on the few points as a single
>>collection, the singular forms feel right, but when you focus on
>>the few points as separate entities, plural forms feel right.
>>Thus you want the verb (e.g.,is/are) to agree numerically with
>>_some entities_, or with _a collection_, according to your focus.
>>I think some sentences can be read either way, depending on which
>>way your attention is directed (e.g. by word order and discourse
>>context etc.) "A few" can work as noun or adjective, it seems.
A lot depends on how pedantic I'm feeling. As I said in an earlier post
this week, I'm much more prepared to let people break the rules when I
think that they realize they *are* breaking the rules. I have less
patience with those who either don't know (sad) or don't care
(inexcusable) about the rules.
> IIRC from back when I was in school (long time ago), both forms are correct.
> At least in Dutch. Strictly spoken it should be "a few is enough" or "a
> number of people has died".
Well that's Dutch for you. In English (as opposed to American, where
pretty much anything goes) "A number of people *have* died" is correct,
because the people died, not the number.
> But the plural form is also accepted, and it is
> called (with an expensive Latin term) "constructio ad sensum", i.e. you
> conjugate the verb in accordance with what the word represents, rather than
> with what it grammatically is.
Ultimately, language is intended to serve the purpose of communication,
and we shouldn't be too upset to see it mangled as long as it serves
that purpose. But when I hear politicians speak in sentences that don;t
even make sense (and hear rooms full of people applauding them, making
it obvious that no critical thought intervenes), *then I start to get my
dander up. There'll be a special room in hell for people who don;t
understand that language is *the* critical component of thought.
good-heaven-is-it-really-that-time-ly y'rs - steve
PS: The real joke is the mess that my recalcitrant fingers make of the
pristine thoughts that they must so clumsily express. The security
community describes my typing style as "excessive use of backsapce".
Anyone reading what I type might be forgiven for thinking me illiterate,
so on the grounds that "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw
stones" I try to avoid taking issue with the common-or-garden mistakes,
since generally the world is kind enough to keep quiet about *my*
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