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So much grammar correction, so little correct!

So much grammar correction, so little correct!

Posted Jul 7, 2010 21:22 UTC (Wed) by baldridgeec (guest, #55283)
In reply to: s/driver/documentation/ by farnz
Parent article: A line in the sand for graphics drivers

Or better still one could utilize a form which is less oft seen in informal English, but easily remembered by a student of linguistics or esp. Romance languages - the third person indefinite personal pronoun. It exists for precisely this sort of case.


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So much grammar correction, so little correct!

Posted Jul 7, 2010 21:26 UTC (Wed) by farnz (subscriber, #17727) [Link]

Except that the modern English usage of "one" places it as a variation on the first person, not the third - one tends to use it not to mean "an unidentified individual", but to mean "an individual from the set that I would cover if I were to use we".

So much grammar correction, so little correct!

Posted Jul 7, 2010 21:51 UTC (Wed) by baldridgeec (guest, #55283) [Link]

Is that really accurate? My observation has been that one tends to use it on behalf of the group for which one is advocating in an argument, but I wouldn't want to rephrase the first half of this sentence using the phrase "I tend," because I'm not referring to myself, but to every instance I have ever heard or read in which the case was used.

(Rereading this before submission, I realize that you could just quote the above paragraph and respond with "QED." :) More meat follows below.)

I assume that that sort of observation (that it coincides with an individual from the first person plural set) stems from the fact that one does not often pose arguments which prescribe the behavior of groups which exclude oneself - that doesn't mean it can't happen though.

One may believe that one's computer is powered by hamsters on exercise wheels, but one would be incorrect. :)

So much grammar correction, so little correct!

Posted Jul 8, 2010 10:20 UTC (Thu) by farnz (subscriber, #17727) [Link]

It's a difficult one (the joys of a language defined by usage, not prescribed by an academy); in my experience the use of "one" is either a "posh way of saying I", or "this is what should happen in an ideal world, not necessarily what anyone in particular does". Singular they feels slightly weird, but doesn't come with that baggage.

Of course, this is all based on past experience - and continued use of "one" as a gender-neutral singular would change the implications. If only programming languages had a similar habit of changing to adapt to what is meant, not what it used to mean :)


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