in a vast echoing space


I have an enthusiasm for regular languages which borders on fetishism. PineConeBoy has had reason to half-chastise, half-mock me on several different occasions due to my well-meaning but frustratingly clumsy attempts to enforce regularity on the English language by intentionally breaking grammatical rules or restricting myself from using more-inconsistent word forms. For example, I used to capitalize every word of titles, without exception; even though I realized capitalizing “of” and “the” was grossly incorrect, it was a form of standardization. More recently, I tried to eliminate the “-er”/”-ier” adjective suffix on the basis that it doesn’t apply evenly; for instance, “happier” is a word, but “funner” isn’t. However, “more happy” and “more fun” are both valid, so for a while, that’s what I tried to stick to. (That stopped working the second someone pointed out how stupid “more easy” sounds. Or something like that. And the someone was probably PineConeBoy.)

The point being, even though I did horribly in my formal languages/translators class, I do find the topic near and dear to me. I’ve spent hours completing regex crosswords (and I’d recommend anyone else do as well — they’re a great way to get your head around some of the more complex regex operations like backreferences). I once cleared a competitive programming problem in the first ten minutes of the competition because I was able to quickly construct a pattern to match the solution. Maybe it’s because of this, or maybe it’s the other way around, but  it frustrates greatly when others overlook the importance of syntax in effective communication. (I know I go on about that topic a lot, but I do feel it’s significant!)

Some friends and I were hanging out earlier, and the topic came up of how Pickett22 crowdsourced a portion of the proofreading and editing of her master’s thesis to her Facebook friends. It was noted how she had to spend a significant amount of effort (although not as much as if she’d had to do it all herself) proofreading and correcting the returned proofreading and corrections.

Nicho and Rinnly and I have had numerous conversations about the importance of clarity in written informal communication, especially with regards to comments on websites. Nicho sides strongly with the viewpoint that your ability or otherwise to effectively verbalize your message should not decrease its importance as perceived by its recipients. This on the basis that the voices those who haven’t been as privileged in their ability to learn their target language shouldn’t be silenced. To me, that also assumes a great number of ESL communicators. My perspective is maybe a little more cynical: assuming instead that these are native speakers, I feel that if you can’t be bothered to put effort into coherently stating your opinion, it’s probably not worth it to me to spend more time deciphering it than you spent writing it.

I don’t really have a pithy conclusion or even much of a point. Guess I’m just contributing further to the noise. At least it’s mostly syntactically correct.

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