[ExI] Captchas

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Sat Aug 13 03:49:21 UTC 2011

On 8/12/2011 9:13 PM, john clark wrote:

> Linguist Steven Pinker wrote a amusing editorial about pointless
> grammatical rules

John, you're a highly intelligent person, so your indignation about 
established grammar can't be due to your *not getting* the differences 
you cite--unless you suffer from (or rejoice in) dyslexia, like my 
frequent co-writer Rory. I've always assumed you were trolling on this 
topic for the entertainment value, although it got old pretty fast. Or 
maybe you're a devout spelling simplifier, like George Bernard Shaw, who 
despite his fame and authority got nowhere in his campaign. (Do you 
spell that "campain" or "campayn"? If not, why not?)

You really can't see how it micro-delays the understanding of an 
educated reader when "their" is used instead of "there" or "they're," or 
"its" instead of "it's," and that these delays add up to frustration and 
eventually to a downgrading of the estimated worth of the ungrammatical 
writer? There's a guy on the GRG Longevity list who insists of leaving 
out the customary space between the end of one sentence and the start of 
the next, which makes reading his posts about as much fun as grinding 
sandpaper on your eyeball.

But speaking of Pinker, a most amusing guy--I've read four rather long 
books by him, and quite a few essays, and I can't remember his ever 
using ungrammatical English. If he means "their" he never uses one of 
the alternative homophones. Why do you suppose that is? A conspiracy of 
grammar Gestapo among his publishers? Probably, yes--but if Pinker 
really meant to argue that it makes no difference, he should insist on 
spattering his pages with confused "affects" and "effects" instead of 
acting on his knowledge that the words have quite different meanings 
even if sometimes they sound quite similar.

Damien Broderick

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