David Thompson
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July 19, 2019

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Steve E

...express your ideas in short active declarative sentences, you probably did not know what you were actually trying to say.

I blame Hemingway. If he were alive today he would have been taken down by the "metoo" movement.

Daniel Ream

but this doesn’t look as awful as I was expecting.

An anonymous source within CBS has claimed that Discovery was supposed to drive subscriptions to the CBS streaming service, and that's not happening. CBS has apparently belatedly come to the conclusion that injecting political agendas into escapist entertainment is not as lucrative as they might have hoped[1] and are pivoting back to Things Old White Men Like in an attempt to shore up flagging sales.

[1] If only there were a short, pithy saying that summed up the folly of such a strategy

WTP

As a sprog i was taught that if you could not express your ideas in short active declarative sentences, you probably did not know what you were actually trying to say.

Well I will confess to the run-on sentence in my comments on many a blog post because it's extemporaneous, sort of, and also more than I'd like to admit alcohol influenced, but embarrassing when I reread something that I posted years or months or hours ago. But then again, I'm not a professional writer. Nor often sober...well anymore anyway. When people who actually know WTLF "past perfect subjunctive" means write f'n BS in a logical context...well, I admit to losing my shit about it. Character flaw. Drives me even more nuts in business communication, though. But to be somewhat fair, in my 30+ years of software development, only two people have been so miserable at ...ok, three people...have been so miserable at communicating in declaratively sentences as to impact my work. Two of those were EAASL people, who for whatever their faults I can excuse in the grand scheme of things. The third however, a woman on a project we were working with the FBI, I really cannot understand how she got a college degree. And yet at the same time I know exactly how she got a college degree AND a job leading an aspect of a project for the FBI.

Steve E

I went over the wall and didn't even know it.

Spent all day traveling to Southampton, no, not that Southampton, and no, not that Southampton either. This Southampton. Anyway, it was a long commute and then I had to cook in a kitchen with appliances and pots and pans I was unfamiliar with; so, I'm a little punchy. Just humour me. My family has. It was 40 celsius with the humidex.

Farnsworth M Muldoon

A black dude can blackwash yte Alexander Hamilton, but for some reason it is a crime against humanity to have a black actress play a white singing cat ? OK, then. Honk.

Pogonip

I can’t easily spot the subjunctive in English either, and English is my native language! 😳. In Spanish it’s easy. In Spanish the subjunctive is might-be’s, maybe’s, could-have-been’s. E.g. in Spanish a sentence like “Tell the pickled ‘eggs’ to go away” must be rendered in the subjunctive—“Dice que se vayan los ‘huevos’ en vinagre”—because just telling the “eggs” to go away is no guarantee that they will (more likely a guarantee that they won’t). They may want to continue parading around on the bar with itty-bitty signs demanding that David give them a raise. They may want to hang around till closing time and then dismember another hapless victim in the parking lot. As long as we know that telling them to go away may or may not result in their actually going away, we have to use the subjunctive.

Farnsworth M Muldoon

Zero emissions construction equipment.

Chester Draws

There's absolutely nothing wrong with the passive voice. People will rail against it while simultaneously using it extensively -- I'm looking at you Strunk and White.

What is weasel-like is agentless constructions. "Mistakes were made" for example. But what is wrong with "Mistakes were made by him"? Which is just as passive yet has an agent.

And you can be effectively agentless in active voice. "It was a time of mistakes."

So don't worry about using the passive. There's nothing wrong with it and all the great writers use it extensively. And almost no-one is able to reliably recognise it anyway.

Chester Draws

And just so we are clear: "Some people drove somewhere" isn't in the passive. The sentence could not be more active -- it's literally subject then verb.

The passive construction would be, I believe, "some people were driven".

WTP

There's absolutely nothing wrong with the passive voice. People will rail against it while simultaneously using it extensively -- I'm looking at you Strunk and White.

What is weasel-like is agentless constructions. "Mistakes were made" for example. But what is wrong with "Mistakes were made by him"?

Well I suppose I'm showing my weakness in writing again, but by "passive voice" I meant without the trailing subjective preposition. If that's a thing. Stated properly. Gimme a break, I'm kinda winging it here. My point was that when using such without the prepositional phrase, my papers would be returned with a big, red "By whom?" next to each one. But apparently my teachers were more picky than most. Maybe. Which is why I'm curious.

Sam Duncan

“Zero emissions construction equipment.”

Beat me to it. It's just perfect, isn't it?

It reminds me of our local council collecting the bins. 30 years ago, they came along, emptied the six giant bins used by the entire block using a mechanism attached to the back of the vehicle, then buggered off again within five minutes. Now they spend fully half an hour manually emptying the dozens of multicoloured recycling bins (dragging them along the ground because the wheels are for suckers), and the six big ones, with the lorry belching diesel fumes the whole time. Green!

TimT

https://laughingsquid.com/geese-chase-alligator-across-golf-course/“>Scenes.

TimT

Slipped HTML tag???? I’ll try again: https://laughingsquid.com/geese-chase-alligator-across-golf-course/”>scenes.

TimT

Insert pic of me throwing up my hands in bafflement.

Here’s the link absent HTML mojo:

https://laughingsquid.com/geese-chase-alligator-across-golf-course/

David

This is what happens when I leave you heathens unsupervised.

WTP

Tim, You've fallen victim to the 66/99 fancy-schmancy double quotes font fallacy. The proper quote marks to put around a link are the ones that look like 11. IYKWIM. Depending on your platform you can set that to default. Frustrated me for a few weeks/months before I figured it out. I think an iOS upgrade or switching browsers or some other seemingly innocuous, oblivious change brought this on in my case.

Uma Thurmond's Feet

Does anyone else notice this absurdity or am I missing something here?

I've noticed this in a history book, "The Victorian Farm" based on the TV series by Alex Langlands, Peter Ginn and Ruth Goodman. They open the book by talking about how Victorian farmers, who serviced the local economy and were supported by local craftsmen, were driven out of business by the tide of cheap corn and imported goods that were cheaper to make in bulk.

Well and good, but apart from a brief mention of the Corn Law's repeal (which allowed imports of cheaper grain), they make it sound like everything that happened to the farmers -- the devastation of the local economy and the destruction of local crafts -- was just something that happened to them without agency on the part of the rulers who specifically caused this to happen through their economic policies.

So it goes.

jabrwok

Dave Cullen on Star Trek: Picard.

I'm not the only one who saw the parallels with Logan, et al.

WTP

the devastation of the local economy and the destruction of local crafts -- was just something that happened to them without agency on the part of the rulers who specifically caused this to happen through their economic policies.

Heh. I was having just this very conversation with a techy former co-worker kinda-local-guru guy who travels frequently to run user groups in some "developing" countries. Currently in Greece and Crete but often times in some west African countries (forget which, but the more stable ones). He had posted something something Trump's racist tweets, send her back, OMG 11!!. He said he's currently in a country "recovering from an economic crisis". These things just happen. They can't possibly be a function of the actions of people living there. Actions that travel with people when they show up someplace else. Like here. Then something about "helping a fellow human being in need". This is not a stupid person. He's helped some very significant people in the industry write books on Java and other software tools.

Chester Draws

Well I suppose I'm showing my weakness in writing again, but by "passive voice" I meant without the trailing subjective preposition.

You and lots of other people, but that simply is not what the passive is. Adding the subject at the end doesn't change a passive to an active.

My point was that when using such without the prepositional phrase, my papers would be returned with a big, red "By whom?" next to each one. But apparently my teachers were more picky than most. Maybe. Which is why I'm curious.

History teachers expecting an agent in the essays they mark is not a problem. It's when they give advice about avoiding completely correct and useful English grammar that is.

Megaera

Pogonip: Can't claim to be the Grammar Queen, but AFAIK there really isn't much of a subjunctive in English while it is common, as you mentioned, in the Romance languages. In English, because of the way we construct verbs it is visible -- if at all -- in the verb 'to be'. Offhand, the only use that occurs to me is something like Spanish 'wish-contrary-to-fact' as in "if I were the King of the Forest..." or similar. Or something like "t'were well t'were done quickly. I vaguely recall imagining I found a subjunctive form or two somewhere in Donne, though whether sermons or poetry now escapes me. It was in another country, and besides, the wench is dead.

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