gsantostasi at gmail.com
Mon Aug 15 16:23:24 UTC 2011
The words affect and effect, even if similar, have indeed different usage
and meaning. I agree on this.
The best way to understand these differences is to look up their etymology.
As a non-mother language speaker I have to say, though, that the difference
is so subtle and the two words so similar in pronunciation that when these
words are used in common language it makes English very ineffective. It is
not by chance that even mother language speakers are confused. Even with my
background in Latin (I had to study it for 5 years in high-school) and
experience in my Italian mother language I have to stop and think about what
these words really mean. In Latin the difference between these words is
obvious because the grammar and usage is pretty different than in English.
As in many instances in English, it is simply best to memorize common usage
and then apply it in mindlessness manner.
This approach is true for the pronunciation of many words (that seems
extremely arbitrary for an Italian speaker given that in our language
pronunciation has very precise rules, so much so that we don't even have a
word for spelling, everybody knows how to spell perfectly since the first
year of elementary school).
English is not a subtle language. Its best value is in its efficiency to
communicate ideas in a direct and simple way. It is not a good language for
philosophy as German (or even Italian) for example.
But English is a perfect language for science.
This is why I think that English fails in this particular instance. It would
be better if some other combination of words would eventually be used
instead of the affect-effect duo.
On Sun, Aug 14, 2011 at 9:24 PM, David Lubkin <lubkin at unreasonable.com>wrote:
> I'm not going to respond to Clark's apparent trolling, but there
> are important points in our exchange that bear expansion
> and discussion with the rest of you.
> No two words are exactly synonymous. Each has a sound and a
> shape and a meaning and a history. Each word was coined
> because there wasn't an existing word that meant quite what the
> neologist meant, and then it moved on from there.
> For that matter, the same word doesn't mean exactly the same
> thing in my brain as it does in yours, or in my brain at two different
> times in my life.
> Particularly for writers like Damien and me, or anyone who
> paints or teaches or sells with her words, we need all the words
> to choose from.
> Since, as Bill Buckley noted, "[y]ou see, that word, and a
> hundred or so others, are a part of my *working* vocabulary,
> even as a C augmented eleventh chord with a raised ninth can
> be said to be an operative resource of the performing jazz
> "Because just as the discriminating ear greets gladly the C
> augmented eleventh, when just the right harmonic moment
> has come for it, so the fastidious eye encounters happily the
> word that says exactly what the writer wished not only said but
> conveyed, here defined as a performing writer sensitive to
> cadence, variety, marksmanship, accent, nuance, and drama."
> But there's another side to it. Where I said I probably wouldn't
> hire someone "whose non-standard usage seems based on
> Our young Perry Metzger made the point about 20 years ago
> on the Libertarian Party mailing list that the farther out your
> ideas are, the more conventional you need to be when you
> sell them. He therefore advocated that all libertarians wear
> a suit while preaching the gospel.
> No one will think less of you because you (say) use 'affect'
> and 'effect' correctly. But some will notice and will think
> less of you if you don't.
> I won't hire someone who doesn't because the conflation
> of words is nails on a chalkboard to me, and suggests to
> me that I couldn't trust him to get the words right when he
> has to write something or speak on my behalf, and that
> I couldn't trust that he'd get the details right in his regular
> Whether it's finding work in this lousy economy, keeping
> the work you have, or persuading others on one of the
> crazy ideas we here advocate, it's essential to exude
> competence. And getting the details wrong is a good way
> to convince people you don't have it.
> -- David.
> extropy-chat mailing list
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
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