Python is readable

Wed Mar 21 00:57:17 CET 2012

On 3/18/2012 1:57, Steven D'Aprano wrote:
>> On 3/16/2012 21:04, Prasad, Ramit wrote:
>>>> People spell your name Stephen, sometimes too. Thinking of changing
>>>> it? Gore Vidal's quote has panache, a valid compensation for breaking
>>> the usual rule. How many other uses on that page are similar?
>>> He provided common examples and reference links. Seems like a pretty
>>> reasonable way of trying to prove a point. If you don't like reference
>>> links, what would convince you that the point was correct? I have not
>>> seen any counter examples or counter references on your behalf...
>> He's referring to this "rule":
>> "A colon should not precede a list unless it follows a complete
>> sentence; however, the colon is a style choice that some publications
>> allow."
> That is an invented prescriptivist rule and not based on English grammar
> as it actually is used by native English speakers. It is *bullshit*. Even
> the author of that page breaks it. Immediately following the above
> prohibition, she follows it with the sentence fragment:
> "Examples:"
> and then a list -- exactly what she says you may not do.

I never said that rule is acceptable. I agree with you on that.

> People *do* precede lists by a colon following a sentence fragment. This
> is unremarkable English grammar, with only a tiny number of arse-plugged
> prescriptivists finding anything to complain about it, and even they
> break their own bullshit made-up so-called rule.
> The vast majority of English speakers write things like:
>      TO DO:
>      - mow the lawn
>      - wash the car
>      - take kids to the zoo
>      - write book on grammar
> and there is nothing wrong with doing so.

That's perfectly acceptable.
Robert Kern put it very well in his post:
"don't use a colon to separate a transitive verb from its objects".

You can't say
   TO DO
   - mow the lawn
   - ...
because "TO DO mow the lawn" doesn't "flow".
But why should we break a sentence when there's no need to do so?
Why should you write
   The matrix:
   is equal to....
Why the colon? Why break the flow of a sentence without reason?

I would generalize Robert Kern's rule a little:
"don't put a colon into a sentence which is fine already".

   You should
   - mow the lawn
   - do the dishes
   - walk the dog

That's perfectly fine. Commas are conveniently omitted.

As a side note, titles of movies, newspapers etc... don't follow common 
rules. Articles may be omitted, verbs may be missing, etc... They're 
just titles.


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