OT: excellent book on information theory

Tom Anderson twic at urchin.earth.li
Sat Jan 21 16:01:53 EST 2006

Slow and to the pointless, but ...

On Wed, 18 Jan 2006, Terry Hancock wrote:

> On Mon, 16 Jan 2006 12:15:25 -0500
> "Tim Peters" <tim.one at comcast.net> wrote:
>> More "Britishisms" are surviving in the Scholastic editions as the 
>> series goes on, but as the list for Half-Blood Prince shows the editors 
>> still make an amazing number of seemingly pointless changes: like:
>>    UK:    Harry smiled vaguely back
>>    US:    Harry smiled back vaguely
> I know you are pointing out the triviality of this, since both US and UK 
> English allow either placement -- but is it really preferred style in 
> the UK to put the adverb right before the verb?

For the meaning which i assume is meant here, no, i wouldn't have said so.

> In US English, the end of the clause (or the beginning) is probably more 
> common.

Same in British English (or at least, English English).

As Dave Hansen pointed out, "Harry smiled vaguely back", means that the 
direction Harry was smiling was vaguely back - might have been a bit to 
the side or something.

> This actually gets back on topic ( ;-) ), because it might affect the 
> localization of a Python interactive fiction module I'm working on -- 
> it's a GUI to generate "sentences" that are comprehensible to the IF 
> engine.

My guess would be that you're going to need something far more powerful 
than a localisation engine for this.

> en_US:
> "Sally, gently put flower in basket"
> vs
> en_UK:
> "Sally, put flower in basket gently"

That example isn't as bad as the Rowling one (although the lack of 
articles is a bit odd); i think i'd only use the latter form if i wanted 
to put particular emphasis on the 'gently', particularly if it was as a 
modified repetition of a previous sentence:

Instructor: Sally, put a flower in the basket.
[Sally roughly puts the flower in the basket, crushing it]
Instructor: Sally, put a flower in the basket *gently*.

Your second construction isn't the equivalent of the Rowling sentence, 
though, where the adverb goes right after the verb; that would make it 
"Sally, put gently the flower in the basket", which would be completely 
awful. Or maybe it would be "Sally, put the flower gently in the basket", 
which would be fine, although a bit dated - has an admittedly euphonious 
1950s BBC English feel to it.


It's the 21st century, man - we rue _minutes_. -- Benjamin Rosenbaum

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