Re: [OT] Indian C programmers and "u"
From: Thomas Stegen (tstegen_at_cis.strath.ac.uk)
Date: Thu, 27 Nov 2003 14:38:13 +0000
Jeremy Yallop wrote:
> Thomas Stegen wrote:
>>That someone well versed in programming
>>absolutely refuses to admit that general can mean "unless otherwise
>>specified" implies only quarrelsome behaviour to me.
> But that is what *you* refused to admit:
> It does not mean for all cases, or even most cases. If something is
> true for 10000 cases and false for 1 case it is not true in general.
I agree that is badly phrased.
> and elsethread:
> The general case is not most cases.
> "does not mean" and "is not" do not admit of any exceptions.
I was speaking in the context set up the original poster of the phrase
"in general". Who is a native speaker of english. Apologies if that
was not clear.
> If you
> intended to indicate otherwise then you failed, because a number of
> native speakers understood that you were excluding other possibilities.
And some native speakers understood my intended semantics... Both
on and offline (I asked more than one).
> He was able to conclude this because you misunderstood "in general"
> *as an English expression*. You correctly understand the meaning of
> "in general" in a mathematical context,
Which apparently some of the native speakers don't?
> and you are apparently aware of some of its other meanings,
More than aware I tell you.
> but the fact that you did not
> understand the phrase as native speakers of English would (and did)
> shows that the language you are using does not entirely correspond to
If you want to translate English to my language you can always
substitute "general" for "generelt"
(in general, since syntax varies slightly,
"generelt sett, siden syntaksen varierer noe") and
preserve meaning exactly if context is preserved.
> It is simply absurd to claim that you have a better grasp of English
> than native speakers beacuse whatever native speakers speak *is*
> English, by definition.
Of course. And it is absurd to claim that no native speaker agrees
with me. I have seen it happen. More than once,and examples includes
both speakers and writers from more than one country where english is
the first language. Besides, are the way non natives speak to be
completely ignored even if they happen to live in an englsih speaking
country and have done so for years? I think not. The way these people
speak *will* affect how the natives speak if there are enough of them.
This is an interesting issue nonetheless.
As you say yourself:
"Non-native speakers are able to acquire knowledge of English as it is
actually used only to the extent to which they participate in the
English-speaking community [...]."
You won't find a native speaker which participates to a greater extent
in the english speaking community than me (depending on the
granularity you use of course). And I know many other non-english
speakers for which the same is true.
I am not saying that (ok, I phrased it too strongly to start with,
regard this as my position now) non-native speakers in general have a
better grasp of certain parts of english than natives. But it does
not take much effort since most natives puts in no effort at all
to improve their understanding and usage of their own language. It is
not as simple as saying that native speakers by definition speak
correctly, because you will end up with ridiculous situations if
1. This is the only reasonable interpretation of your statement I can
see without ending up with a circular tautology.
> But the whole point is that these are *not* dictionary examples! The
> difference between a dictionary and a corpus is central to this whole
Yes, because corpora are never outdated the way dictionaries are...
Oh, you mean various corpora are updated. Oh, I see. Sort of what they
do with vairious dictionaries you mean? Corpora are based upon usage
text (mainly) and they include usage which is just as old and outdated
as dictionaries. As you can easily find out with the British National
Corpus, many (most maybe) of the entries are between 10 and 20 years
old. So either your argument that english changes carries less weight
than orignally thought or the corpus is not a reliable resource. And
as a side note, I would imagine many foreigners learned english from
books and resources as new or newer than 10 to 20 years old.
And did you know that corpus linguistics are not generally accepted
by all linguists? Most maybe, but not all. I am just saying that if you
say one language reference can be outdated unless updated, then that
applies to all language references.
But what I'll do is this. I'll try to get hold of a norwegian-english
aligned parallel corpus and look up the word general and see what it
says. It might have to wait untill christmas though since I spend most
of my time in Scotland where occurences of such might be rare. I'll
have a look in the university library today though.
(incidentally I did find a norwegian-english aligned parallel corpus
but it was local access only... If anything should be under the gnu
documentation license a corpus would surely be it :)