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That Does Not Compute

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posted on May, 7 2012 @ 07:56 PM
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I am a writer. I have learned to embrace grammar and sentence and paragraph structure as a part of my craft, but even before I ever bought my first computer with a word program, I have found myself in battles with editors - human - over the phrasing and use of certain structures. I have noticed that grammarians tend to be too prosaic about writing, and it takes a strong writer, or stubborn writer, to convince certain grammarians to tone it down a bit and consider the artfulness of a well written fragment sentence, or some other "breaking of the rules". Then I finally bought a computer and began using Microsoft word.

Of course, I cannot argue with Word in the same way I would with a human editor, but I argue still. I will consider Word's suggestions and if I can artfully re-write certain sentences using their suggestions then it is a win-win. If I cannot, and determine that the grammar police in my Word program are just being idiots, then I am stuck with those stupid green squiggly lines forever highlighting our disagreements. Indeed, if Shakespeare were to have used Word in his day, that program would insist that his Hamlet soliloquy "To be or not to be..." had two fragment sentences in it, and of course, it does. So what? Should we trust these E-grammarians so much that their assessment of Shakespeare is more erudite than Shakespeare?

Of course, I have met human grammarians that probably would have been a real pain in Shakespeare's derriere too. However, at least a human grammarian or editor can be reasoned with, but these robo-reader's the possibility of reasoning with them is out of the question. There are many problems that come with e-raters, for example they cannot assess a writers critical thinking skills and as a New York Times op/ed pieces pointed pointed out with their amusing title Facing a Robo-Grader? Just Keep Obfuscating Melliflously, nonsense will get past the e-raters with no problem at all.


The e-Rater’s biggest problem, he says, is that it can’t identify truth. He tells students not to waste time worrying about whether their facts are accurate, since pretty much any fact will do as long as it is incorporated into a well-structured sentence. “E-Rater doesn’t care if you say the War of 1812 started in 1945,” he said.


Does this help explain why there seem to be a number of younger members in this site who proudly post nonsense as if it is erudite? I cannot tell you how many times I have posted a reply that made no attempt at all to interpret the other members post and just simply answered their question, or responded to an assertion, and they respond with "nice straw-man" which is, of course, nonsensical and shows no understanding of straw-man arguments and in general shows no understanding of logical fallacies. Are these younger members a product of robo-readers and is their firm belief their nonsense is erudite a consequence of receiving high marks for writing that was nothing more than jibber jabber?

How bad can this problem become? That New York Time op/ed suggests:


The automated reader developed by the Educational Testing Service, e-Rater, can grade 16,000 essays in 20 seconds, according to David Williamson, a research director for E.T.S., which develops and administers 50 million tests a year, including the SAT.


Will our schools keep opting for quantity over quality, at the expense of critical thought, and is this just a matter of economics or is something more sinister the underlying form?




posted on May, 7 2012 @ 08:15 PM
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I can read shakespeare, I can even write it, and speak it...
spellin, punkchewation
maybe not so much

I discovered that by following essay format in high school automatically guaranteed a 60 percent
even if the whole piece was gibberish.

ever read The Dumming Down of America by Charlotte Iserby?
we are living it I guess


eta
Critical thought?
That is the last thing the farmer wants to see in a cow
edit on 7-5-2012 by Danbones because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 7 2012 @ 08:33 PM
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reply to post by Danbones
 


Grammarians, human and machine aren't all that impressed with Shakespeare's spelling either. Words such as "wish'd", "undiscover'd", "traveller", "sicklied", and "remember'd" will not pass Word's muster and I suspect would not get past any e-rater either.

Shakespeare also coined, or invented several words, including academe, accused, adiction, advertising, and amazement just to list a few words beginning with the letter A coined by Shakespeare. Here is a list of more. What would, I wonder, modern grammarians, editors and teachers have to say about inventing words?

Not to equate the word "bogus" with Shakespearean, but I like this word and am very glad someone somewhere invented it. Here is the etyomology of the word bogus.

The artistic should never allow the prosaic to suppress what is artistic. This includes your indelible form of art in this site, my friend. Who cares if your spelling is up to a grammarians par if what you've misspelled makes sense and speaks to the human heart?



posted on May, 7 2012 @ 09:50 PM
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I'm a writer too Jean and, to be perfectly honest with you, I haven't even heard of e-rater until just now. Sounds like the kind of program where if I put in my text, like this one, it might come back and throw a brick at me. That, and if it can rate 16,000 pages in 20 seconds, it's the type of program that I don't really care to learn about anyway. ( Kinda like a woman huh
)

What I concern myself with are clients who like my writing style well enough to pay me for it and then ask for more. Sure, you're going to run across a few that aren't a good fit, but for every 1 that turned me down, I had 5 that retained me. Word programs don't pay me, clients do. I did the Microsoft word thing for a number of years then discovered Open Office. It's a newer version, but what I like is that it's easier to understand and operate. Even the spreadsheet, and I've always been kind of retarded when it came to that.

What I don't like are the offshoots that companies set up on their own website that tell you have to press CTRL+C to copy, and then when you do that for a 400 word text, it DELETES it. Thanks a**hole, you just erased $10 off my computer, you've got some explaining to do. But instead of pounding my fist on the desk going WTF!!!, I come here to vent. It helps. I guess I should've seen it coming when it told me to do it manually.

I understand what you're saying though about the upcoming generation putting so much stock in things like e-rater to critique what they do. They start to get the impression that if what they do good enough for a program like that, it's good enough. They're settling. I personally don't do that and I get the impression you don't either. The best we can do I suppose is lead by example. Keep your writing style the way it is, keep it as widely available as you can and don't be pompous about it.

Me, I'm getting a blog up and going and when I figure a few more things out I'll start marketing what I have. I'm not worried about the amount of content or how much I can produce, never had any complaints there, just some technical issues I need to get ironed out. I have one specific target audience that I'll get first, we work well together, build that base up then catch the attention of others. I figure if I get that specific base first and stay with it for the long haul, I can make a positive impression on all the others. Focusing on one topic can make you more appealing to others and, as a result, they'll want to follow your lead.

E-rater aint got not nothing on human innovation Jean, and you can take that to the bank.




posted on May, 7 2012 @ 10:13 PM
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reply to post by Jean Paul Zodeaux
 


I had an ET in highschool ( english teacher ) who said that making up words could be a proper use of english if they do a better job then the previous inventory..indeed language does mutate or evolve ..
"internet" being a good example of a new word
I only had to show up for that class to write tests...other then that I was banished to the library.

There is a school of thought that maintains that Sheakspeare was actually a group of people who's intent was to solidify the english language into a more coherant structure suited to the secret societies they belonged to.

Funny, I was one of the only students in an acedemic grade 12 that could or even would read shakespeare. There was as stigma attached to acedemic achievment..it didn't apply to parroting the TV though.

I think that stigma is an important phenomina to note: it was cool to be a dumb stoopid criminal...
Smart was beating the system in the laziest way possible...
Which gets us to where we are now..the NY school system, E Rater, Challenger, Fucushima, Bush, Obama....
edit on 7-5-2012 by Danbones because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 8 2012 @ 04:27 AM
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reply to post by Jean Paul Zodeaux
 


Turn the spelling control off. Problem solved. I haven't used Word (Office) since it was called Office 97. I hate spelling control and always turn it off in all programs. It will not help people know the difference between THEN and THAN or BREATH and BREATHE or OF and HAVE. Most people spell like morons that are still in third grade. I think it is because they don't read enough. They might read stuff on the internet that other morons wrote and then think that is the correct way to write. They should read real books with some substance in them.



posted on May, 8 2012 @ 04:29 AM
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reply to post by Danbones
 


And yet, you still don't know the difference between THEN and THAN... sigh..



posted on May, 8 2012 @ 04:46 AM
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reply to post by Jean Paul Zodeaux
 


Id say the foundation of a spellchecks logic is a lot shallower than a persons. So to me the whole comparison seems a little desparate. Im sure someday the spellchecker will be sentient and then you could negotiate all you wanted. I doubt you would allow yourself to find any joy in that....



posted on May, 8 2012 @ 09:48 AM
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Originally posted by scarystuff
reply to post by Danbones
 


And yet, you still don't know the difference between THEN and THAN... sigh..


I'm dyslexic dumbass
I taught myself to read before I even started school
I can't even see letters when I read.

people forgive all the edits and star my posts just the same



posted on May, 8 2012 @ 09:55 AM
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Originally posted by Danbones

Originally posted by scarystuff
reply to post by Danbones
 


And yet, you still don't know the difference between THEN and THAN... sigh..


I'm dyslexic dumbass
I taught myself to read before I even started school
I can't even see letters when I read.

people forgive all the edits and star my posts just the same

something to do with content they tell me
edit on 8-5-2012 by Danbones because: (no reason given)


Do you know how many times i have spelled the word view wrong?

every damn time. i just did it again and had to correct it. i have no idea why. i before e except after c but i keep thinking I can swing it but every damn time that e somehow gets in front of the i. it just seems like it should go first and i have been spelling it over 30 years. i started reading before school too. i just picked up a newspaper and started reading it. i quickly learned how tedious and time consuming it can be.
edit on 8-5-2012 by NotAnAspie because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 8 2012 @ 09:58 AM
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reply to post by Jean Paul Zodeaux
 


Etymology is a very revealing study...
to bad it isn't on the curriculum in the average school.

recently I came accross the history of the word "cross" as in to "cross an ocean"
www.viewzone.com...
it totally changes history as it is commonly portrayed



posted on May, 8 2012 @ 10:11 AM
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Language is one of those things that shouldn't be ruled by elitists. It is something we all do because we all do it. I'm not saying it doesn't stick in my craw when people misspell or misuse a word, but it seems to me that language must live and breathe. It can't do that if we have to prune and shave every time we show it in the light of day. A pedigreed pet doesn't behave better or live longer than a mongrel. Sometimes the most beautiful creations come from Nature taking her course. Language is much the same, is it not?



posted on May, 8 2012 @ 10:58 AM
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And then we have GW Bush's "Then you wake up at the high school level and find out that the illiteracy level of our children are [sic] appalling." —Washington, D.C.; January 23, 2004

I hope he was not reading that from a script.



posted on May, 8 2012 @ 11:12 AM
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Word's biggest problem with grammar and sentence structure is that it's written for the average grade 8 education level.

Anything beyond that, it has trouble with.

For most Americans, Grade 8 is unfortunately better than the level of education that they have in writing, so this works just fine.



posted on May, 8 2012 @ 11:31 AM
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Reply to post by Danbones
 


You. Is. Naughty.


 
Posted Via ATS Mobile: m.abovetopsecret.com
 



posted on May, 8 2012 @ 02:36 PM
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Originally posted by Wertdagf
reply to post by Jean Paul Zodeaux
 


Id say the foundation of a spellchecks logic is a lot shallower than a persons. So to me the whole comparison seems a little desparate. Im sure someday the spellchecker will be sentient and then you could negotiate all you wanted. I doubt you would allow yourself to find any joy in that....


Both you and the member above you (scarystuff) tend to accentuate my point. Both of you have only been able to extrapolate from the O.P. that I am somehow complaining about spellcheck. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth and in order for the both of you make the extrapolations you did you would have to have some serious problems with reading comprehension. It matters not if a "spellcheck" program ever becomes sentient when the sentient beings we have to deal with today have little interest in reading or critical thought.



posted on May, 8 2012 @ 02:43 PM
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Originally posted by CosmicEgg
Language is one of those things that shouldn't be ruled by elitists. It is something we all do because we all do it. I'm not saying it doesn't stick in my craw when people misspell or misuse a word, but it seems to me that language must live and breathe. It can't do that if we have to prune and shave every time we show it in the light of day. A pedigreed pet doesn't behave better or live longer than a mongrel. Sometimes the most beautiful creations come from Nature taking her course. Language is much the same, is it not?


I totally agree, and it is nice to find something you and I can agree on. I have had several pure bred Golden Retrievers throughout my life and a few mutts. Hands down the mutts were remarkably smarter than my Golden Retrievers. The Spanish I speak is a formal Spanish so often times I will use a word or phrase in Spanish where those whose primary language is Spanish do not understand what I'm saying. Sometimes the person I am speaking to will take a derisive attitude with me and mock my use of Spanish as if I do not know the language. When this happens I will point out that the word does indeed exist in Spanish but this is the problem with speaking formal Spanish amongst the peasants.

Most of the time, when I wind up using a formal word that people do not know in Spanish, I just struggle to find the word that they can understand, and not worry about castigating them for not knowing a word. After all, isn't the point of language to communicate?



posted on May, 8 2012 @ 02:59 PM
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reply to post by Jean Paul Zodeaux
 


Indeed that is so. I live in Finland now and have done for more than half my life. I was already an adult when I moved here and when I was younger I was much better at speaking Finnish than I am now. Odd, right? Not so much, when you think about it.

Finnish is a very dry, stiff, regimented language. It flows nicely for (some of) the Finns and perhaps the odd outlanders who happen to be into that sort of thing for some reason or another. Overall though most will say that it's a stodgy language with little flexibility. The longer I'm here, the less I like it. Oddly again, it is fading from my mind. Not because of age (how dare you!? lol) but more because it just isn't relevant.

Two of my three children are grammar nazis. One speaks five languages and the other has seven so far. All three will agree that Finnish is cold and hollow. Given a choice, they will use any other despite having been through the normal Finnish schools and having Finnish friends.

Finns work very hard to keep their language alive. It's a losing battle though. Five million people cannot do it. It will pass, and rightly so. Language cannot be shackled.



posted on May, 8 2012 @ 03:12 PM
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reply to post by CosmicEgg
 


It is a fine line we walk in this thing called language. Martin Heidegger once said that we do not speak language, language speaks us. For many this is undeniably true, but for a few this is demonstrably not so and these people are clearly speaking language. Indeed, what an absurdity it is to create language (be cause over it) only in the end to become the effect of it.

The rules and regulations of grammar are not a bad thing, they exist, I believe, to help us better communicate. However, in the great big universe of language, grammar is like the jet that flies across the great big sheltering sky of language. The artists are the test pilots who should constantly be pushing the edges of the envelope, testing the limits of grammar. I suppose grammarians are like any technical minded person, they think mostly in terms of what can't be done, and the last thing any technocrat should say to an artist is "it can't be done", if they truly expect that phrase to prevent an attempt to test that assertion out.



posted on May, 9 2012 @ 01:14 AM
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reply to post by Jean Paul Zodeaux
 


A friend here is a PhD and researcher of sociolinguistics, specifically interested in language change and pragmatics. She's American as well, and interested in the influence English has on other languages. Obviously in this case, Finnish. Finnish, as well as being stiff and dry, is also very harsh. For example, in Finnish there is no word for "please". It has been adopted from English as "pliis" but its meaning is not so much for politeness as much as for actual pleading - something a bit detached from its use in current English.

You mentioned Mr Shakespeare above and how he toyed with the language. He was truly a wordsmith, not some student interested in pleasing his mentor. Few have or will ever approach his abilities with English. Those who criticize him are only waving the banners of their own ineptitude and insecurity. Isn't that true with all purists though?



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