Modifying Class Object

Steven D'Aprano steve at
Wed Feb 10 15:16:46 CET 2010

On Wed, 10 Feb 2010 09:13:22 +0100, Alf P. Steinbach wrote:

>> You've
>> dismissed at least one of my arguments with a simple hand-waving of,
>> "That's invalid, cuz."
> That is not a quote of me. It is a lie.

Alf, although your English in this forum has been excellent so far, I 
understand you are Norwegian, so it is possible that you aren't a native 
English speaker and possibly unaware that quotation marks are sometimes 
ambiguous in English.

While it is true that quoted text is officially meant to indicate a 
direct quote, it is also commonly used in informal text to indicate a 
paraphrase. (There are other uses as well, but they don't concern us now.)

Unfortunately, this means that in informal discussions like this it is 
sometimes difficult to distinguish a direct quote from a paraphrase, 
except by context. In context, as a native speaker, I can assure you that 
Stephen Hansen's use of quotation marks is a paraphrase and not meant to 
be read as a direct quote.

As a paraphrase, it's not a *lie* -- it should be read as Stephen's 
*opinion* of your actions, not a direct quote. Stephen might, or might 
not, be *mistaken*, but it's unlikely he's actively lying. Arguing 
pedantically that you didn't write those exact words won't win you any 
friends or supporters.

You can choose to defend yourself against a gross misrepresentation of 
what you actually said; or you can accept that it captures the spirit 
(but not the letter) of your words; or you can choose a middle position, 
and accept that even if it is not a 100% accurate representation of your 
statements, perhaps it is 90% accurate, or 10%, or 50%. The exact amount 
doesn't really matter, and will be subjective, and frankly I don't care. 
But whatever degree you choose to accept, it is obvious that a number of 
people are not just being annoyed by your behaviour, but they are annoyed 
enough to publicly chastise you for it. That includes Steve Holden, who 
is usually far more even-tempered than (e.g.) me.

Without necessarily suggesting that you are 100% to blame for the 
antagonism, its unlikely that so many disparate individuals are all 100% 
mistaken. As you say, the public record is there for anyone who wishes to 
read the history.

Believe me Alf, the fact that people are taking the time to try to argue 
with you instead of just kill-filing you is a compliment.


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