The Modernization of Emacs: terminology buffer and keybinding

Damien Kick dkixk at
Sat Sep 29 01:27:04 CEST 2007

Giorgos Keramidas wrote:
> On Fri, 22 Jun 2007 23:08:02 -0000, nebulous99 at wrote:
>> So much for the "free" in "free software". If you can't actually use
>> it without paying money, whether for the software or for some book, it
>> isn't really free, is it?
> Please do not confuse the term 'free' in 'free software' with 'gratis'.
> 'Gratis', i.e. 'lacking a monetary price tag' is something *very*
> different from the meaning of 'free' in 'free software'.

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.

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