The Modernization of Emacs: terminology buffer and keybinding

Wildemar Wildenburger lasses_weil at
Mon Oct 1 23:37:28 CEST 2007

Frank Goenninger wrote:
> On 2007-09-29 01:27:04 +0200, Damien Kick <dkixk at> said:
>> If you were referring to the "free" in "free Mumia Abu Jamal", I would 
>> agree with you.  I don't think anyone would imagine that this phrase 
>> meant that someone was going to get Mumia Abu Jamal gratis.  Like it 
>> or not, "free software" referring to "free as in beer" is probably the 
>> most common interpretation of the phrase for a native English speaker. 
>> Admittedly, I do not have a "scientific" survey handy.  However, I 
>> just asked my wife--who has absolutely no interest in anything related 
>> to programming, has never heard of the FSF, Eric Raymond, nor the 
>> disagreement between those two camps, nor probably will she ever have 
>> an interest--what she thinks I mean when I say "free software".  After 
>> getting over the "why are you asking such a stupid question" phase, 
>> the first thing that jumped to her mind was "free as in beer".  You 
>> can stamp, growl, swagger, spit, curse, and bluster all you want on 
>> this point, but millions of English speakers are going to ignore you 
>> anyway.   Lucky for most of them, they do not have to suffer the 
>> lectures of sociopolitically motivated language mavens trying to 
>> "correct" them from the error of mistaking the meaning of a phrase to 
>> be the normal meaning of that phrase.
> Fully true for non-native English speakers as well. Just did the "wife 
> test" also - she is a pure software user - and yes, free is "no money, 
> do what you want" and that's it.
> I *never* use the term "free" if I don't want to imply "free beer" 
> (which is a Good Thing and as such highly valuated - ask any Bavarian). 
> Using "free" as by FSF or any other lawyer-style 6 pixel font printed 
> phrasing is pure perfidiousness.
I appearantly missed a lot of that conversation, but what is your point? 
While I agree that the word "free" implies "free of monetary cost" to 
many people societies, that is by no means set in stone (talk to native 
americans, blacks, jews, palestinians, etc. about the word free, see 
what they have to say).

But that aside: The word free with respect to the FSF and GPL have a 
perfectly well defined meaning. People may misunderstand that from not 
knowing the definition but that doesnt make it any less well defined.

Again, why this discussion?

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