Author Topic: In the New Yorker...  (Read 715053 times)

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1240 on: September 02, 2015, 04:53:09 pm »
I had no idea Oliver Sacks was that old.

I always thought he was old because he knew so much.  ;)

But I didn't know he was gay until a few days ago.
Too much to do. . .I don't have time to get old!

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1241 on: September 03, 2015, 09:54:07 am »
I knew he was old because I can remember my mom reading The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and telling me stories from it 30 years ago.

I new he was gay about a year ago, when his memoir came out. So to speak. (He was already officially out, of couse.)



Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1242 on: September 03, 2015, 11:54:21 am »
I new he was gay about a year ago, when his memoir came out. So to speak. (He was already officially out, of couse.)

That's when I first learned he was gay.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1243 on: September 04, 2015, 11:52:06 am »
I new he was gay

I hope that was just my K key sticking. More and more lately, I've caught myself misspelling words -- or actually, typing homonyms of words -- that of course I know how to spell correctly. It's like my brain doesn't fully connect with my fingers. So I've even done the occasional your/re and to/o. Kind of embarrassing for a professional writer -- we tend to roll our eyes when people do that stuff.

 ::)


Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1244 on: September 04, 2015, 12:09:50 pm »
I hope that was just my K key sticking. More and more lately, I've caught myself misspelling words -- or actually, typing homonyms of words -- that of course I know how to spell correctly. It's like my brain doesn't fully connect with my fingers. So I've even done the occasional your/re and to/o. Kind of embarrassing for a professional writer -- we tend to roll our eyes when people do that stuff.

 ::)



It's embarrassing for a proofreader, too (also embarrassing when you don't notice that someone has made a mistake like that!  :laugh: ). I tend to think that omission of small words, such as to, just indicates that our minds work faster than we can type, but I don't know whether that would explain the "homonym problem." Perhaps it would explain some of it.

When the mistake is made by someone younger who is not a professional writer, I sometimes wonder whether the person actually knows any better, because I have no idea how much or what sort of grammar and spelling kids were taught in 1980s and 1990s.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1245 on: September 05, 2015, 10:03:41 am »
It's embarrassing for a proofreader, too (also embarrassing when you don't notice that someone has made a mistake like that!  :laugh: ).

I've been doing some proofreading lately. If that happened in something I was proofing, I'd like to think I'd jump on it, but you never know. The material I've been proofing is almost error free, so sometimes I get all excited when I see a "benefitted" that I can delete a T from, or a "Set up" (as a noun) that I can delete the space from. Other times I get lulled into eye-glazed complacency and skip over, say, a date that looks perfectly fine but has already passed and therefore needs changing.

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I tend to think that omission of small words, such as to, just indicates that our minds work faster than we can type, but I don't know whether that would explain the "homonym problem." Perhaps it would explain some of it.

That sounds right to me. Sometimes I look back and see that I've omitted whole words!

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When the mistake is made by someone younger who is not a professional writer, I sometimes wonder whether the person actually knows any better, because I have no idea how much or what sort of grammar and spelling kids were taught in 1980s and 1990s.

Well, I think everyone was at least taught the difference between you're and your, to and too, there and their, even if they didn't pay attention or remember it. I have friends my own age who make those mistakes repeatedly. They're not unintelligent, they're just not word people.

Among non-wordies, actually, I am oddly more bothered by errors caused by trying TOO hard to be grammatical. For example, I can forgive an "Her and I have been friends for years" because I know that's just the way people talk. But I hate hearing "He came to visit Fred and I," because I think those people are hyperaware that "Fred and me went to the store" is wrong, and think that substituting I in all cases is correct.

And who vs. whom? Fageddaboudit. That one is so little understood that in some contexts I am loathe to use them correctly because I think it will sound stuffy.




Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1246 on: September 05, 2015, 10:22:35 am »
On Facebook the other night I came upon a post by a woman in Portland who was finding it difficult to refer to people who don't identify as either male or female as "they." (I have another friend whose stepdaughter is in that group, so I knew what she meant -- it sounds funny.)

So she had all these comments, some of which addressed the problem she was describing, while others misunderstood and thought she was talking about using "they" as an ungrammatical but convenient substitute in cases of non-specific individuals, where traditionally the pronouns would default male and are sometimes changed to "his or her," as in, "When a student arrives on campus, they should pick up their admission forms."

So I wrote a comment pointing out that the commenters were talking about two different things. I said I also found it grammatically difficult to refer to a specific individual as "they"-- but would be willing to do so if that's what someone preferred -- but wish that "the.y" would catch on grammatically as a substitute for the sexist default male or the awkward "his or her."

Another woman from Portland snapped back "They're both correct, though."

Huh? I was willing to believe that in some ancient version of English "they" could be used as an pronoun for a single unspecific person (the was the use of "literally" to mean "figuratively" has been defended by people pointing to usages in the 16th century or whatever). But I told her that since asexual people have traditionally not been recognized as even existing, I doubted that there was ever an English pronoun for them.

So then she gave me the old "Many other cultures have been accepting of people who don't conform to a gender binary blah blah blah." Then she said English -- our culture of course being the sole culture ever that has been intolerant of asexuals -- doesn't have such a word. I said I'm always a little suspicious of the "Many other cultures have been perfectly find narrative with something we get all upset about" narrative, but don't doubt that it does sometimes happen. In any case, I pointed out that she had contradicted herself by first saying it was correct and then saying we actually don't have such a word.

By then I had realized that a) When she insisted both were "correct," she didn't think it through but made the claim because she was just so eager to assert the rights of the non-binary (which she, judging from her photo, is not) b) she was one of those people who love an opportunity to school some liberal whom she deems not sufficiently PC and c) (not for the first time) I'm glad I don't live in Portland.  :laugh:



Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1247 on: September 05, 2015, 12:00:51 pm »
And who vs. whom? Fageddaboudit. That one is so little understood that in some contexts I am loathe to use them correctly because I think it will sound stuffy.

Oh, that one bedevils me. I still try to use whom correctly because as a sort of "word professional" ("professional wordsmith"?) I feel obliged to do so. But some times it can be awfully difficult, depending on how the sentence is written, to figure out if you need objective case.

So she had all these comments, some of which addressed the problem she was describing, while others misunderstood and thought she was talking about using "they" as an ungrammatical but convenient substitute in cases of non-specific individuals, where traditionally the pronouns would default male and are sometimes changed to "his or her," as in, "When a student arrives on campus, they should pick up their admission forms."

Sometimes that can be an easy fix; make the whole thing plural: "When students arrive on campus, they should pick up their admission forms." But not always.

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So I wrote a comment pointing out that the commenters were talking about two different things. I said I also found it grammatically difficult to refer to a specific individual as "they"-- but would be willing to do so if that's what someone preferred -- but wish that "they" would catch on grammatically as a substitute for the sexist default male or the awkward "his or her."

Personally, I want to hold the line against using they as singular. I don't mean to be unsympathetic or unaware of the issue, but I've got a personal issue with with what I perceive as "inclusive language" running amok--but that would go beyond the bounds of a New Yorker thread, I think.

"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1248 on: September 05, 2015, 10:42:48 pm »
Oh, that one bedevils me. I still try to use whom correctly because as a sort of "word professional" ("professional wordsmith"?) I feel obliged to do so. But some times it can be awfully difficult, depending on how the sentence is written, to figure out if you need objective case.

My main problem with it is that "whom" just sounds too stuffy in some contexts, even when it's correct.

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Sometimes that can be an easy fix; make the whole thing plural: "When students arrive on campus, they should pick up their admission forms." But not always.

Right. That's the ideal situation. if that's not possible, I alternate between "they," "him or her" and "one," depending on how much formality fits the context.

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Personally, I want to hold the line against using they as singular. I don't mean to be unsympathetic or unaware of the issue, but I've got a personal i[/ssue with with what I perceive as "inclusive language" running amok--but that would go beyond the bounds of a New Yorker thread, I think.

Well, as you know, English has changed a lot over the centuries, and inclusivity seems like one of the best reasons for doing it. That and spelling. I prefer donut to doughnut, for example, because the ugh is just confusing and unnecessary.

The "what pronouns to use for an individual who doesn't identify along a binary gender model, I'm afraid that one's a lot trickier. Luckily, it doesn't come up as often.



Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1249 on: September 06, 2015, 09:30:22 am »
My main problem with it is that "whom" just sounds too stuffy in some contexts, even when it's correct.

Yes, I think it can, but. ...

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Right. That's the ideal situation. if that's not possible, I alternate between "they," "him or her" and "one," depending on how much formality fits the context.


Oi! Talk about sounding "stuffy" or pompous! (Or British. ...  ;D ) "One"!

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Well, as you know, English has changed a lot over the centuries, and inclusivity seems like one of the best reasons for doing it. That and spelling. I prefer donut to doughnut, for example, because the ugh is just confusing and unnecessary.

Not me. I'm sure by now that usage has a long history, but to me it still looks too much like "do-nut," rather than "doe-nut." Unless I'm quoting, I'm stickin' with "doughnut."

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The "what pronouns to use for an individual who doesn't identify along a binary gender model, I'm afraid that one's a lot trickier. Luckily, it doesn't come up as often.

Actually, I don't think I've ever run into that situation, but then I'm not a professional writer. I suppose the thing to do is ask what the individual prefers? (And I guess if the preference is for "they," I'd have to note that "they" is the individual's preference, even if that does sound a bit condescending.)
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.