The devolution of English language and slothful c.l.p behaviors exposed!

Ian Kelly ian.g.kelly at
Wed Jan 25 21:02:16 EST 2012

On Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 6:00 PM, Rick Johnson
<rantingrickjohnson at> wrote:
> On Jan 25, 6:20 pm, Ian Kelly < at> wrote:
>> On Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 4:23 PM, Rick Johnson
>> > """I was frightened that the finals might be difficult this year,
>> > however to my surprise, they were not."""
>> > In this case the writer does not *precisely* quantify the difficulty
>> > of his final exams, however, we can infer that the difficulty level
>> > falls somewhere between easy-peasy and devilishly-difficult -- WITHOUT
>> > resorting to a language perversion!
>> That is not what I infer from that sentence.  I take from it that the
>> writer expected the finals to be difficult, and they turned out to be
>> the opposite (i.e. "easy").  If you thought that that sentence clearly
>> implied that the finals were "between easy and difficult", then your
>> writing skills stink.
> My writing skills are not in question here, however your reading and
> comprehension skills should be. How could you possibly know for sure,
> beyond any reasonable doubt, that the writer was suggesting the final
> exam was "easy"? In fact, the writer never even mentioned the word
> "easy" at all! The writer only stated that the test was NOT
> *difficult*. How does "not difficult" extrapolate to "easy".

That may be the literal meaning, but English composition does not
always follow the rules of predicate logic.  To me, the emphatic use
of "to my surprise" in the construction "I expected X, but to my
surprise I found it was not" implies not merely the literal "not X"
but actually the opposite of X; and the opposite of "difficult" is

Feel free to call my reading comprehension skills into question all
you like, but remember that it is the writer, not the reader, who
chooses the words he uses to convey his ideas, and so it is a poor
writer indeed who blames his audience for a failure to communicate.

>> > Listen, you try to make an argument that "pretty" somehow quantifies
>> > the "difficulty of an easy task". Okay, if "pretty" is a quantifier,
>> > then what EXACTLY is it's quantity, exactly? You see, you've gained
>> > nothing by using "pretty".
>> It is a qualifier, not a quantifier,
> Oh i see, NOW it's a qualifier!

I don't recall ever saying otherwise.

> So what is "easy" qualified for?
>  1. A zero interest loan?
>  2. A sweepstakes?
> or maybe you meant "qualified as"
>  1. a traffic cop?
>  2. a clumsy ship captain?
> or maybe you meant "has authority to qualify",

Or more likely I meant:

Grammar .
b. an adverb that modifies adjectives or other adverbs and typically
expresses degree or intensity, as very, somewhat,  or quite.


But I think that you knew that and are being deliberately obtuse as a
means of evasion.

> *[Thought Exercise]*
> Take a word like "applause". Let's say we want to quantify the level
> of applause to some variable degree of precision. We could say:
> "roaring applause", even though the base definition of "roaring" is a
> sound an animal creates. You see "roaring" can make the transformation
> whilst "pretty" cannot. Why? Because the base definition of roaring
> refers to "magnitude of sound". In that sense, an applause can roar.
> But the applause can never be "pretty loud" because pretty is 1) not a
> quantifier 2) cannot make the transformation to quantify sound.
> "Pretty" is not a quantifier, it's an observation, or an opinion if
> you like.

I will agree that "roaring applause", while a bit cliche, is more
expressive than "pretty loud applause".  That does not invalidate
"pretty loud applause" as a meaningful phrase, any more than it
invalidates "very loud applause" or "slightly loud applause".  I'm not
interested in continuing a pointless back-and-forth over whether
"pretty" is a real adverb, though, so I'll leave it at that.

More information about the Python-list mailing list