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TSE  April 2006

TSE April 2006

Subject:

Re: (OT) Towards a speech of the machine ...

From:

Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Wed, 12 Apr 2006 11:57:47 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (325 lines)

Dear Brian,

Here is the list.  The odd stuff at the top illustrates the move from
words to phrases to clauses to independent clauses and the other three
basic structures of sentences.   Caps and periods are omitted to make
clear that the syntax is the key.

 They can see that too.  

A.
cats of why running black
the running black cats
because the black cats are running
the black cats are running

B. 
the black cats are running, and the white cats are sunning
because the black cats are running, the white mice are hiding
when the black cats are running, the white mide ae hiding and the brown
dogs are barking.

C.

Writing is difficult.  Writing is an art.  Writing takes practice.
Writing is a difficult art, and it takes practice.
Writing is a difficult art; it takes practice.
Writing is a difficult art:  it takes practice.
Because writing is a difficult art, it takes practice.
Because it is difficult, writing takes practice to be an art.
When writing is difficult, it takes practice.
Being a difficult art, writing takes practice.
Writing, a difficult art, takes practice.
Writing is a difficult art; therefore, it takes practice.
A difficult art, writing takes practice.
Writing is difficult; it is an art; it takes practice.
Writing is difficult, and it is an art, and it takes practice.
An art, a practice, a difficulty--writing is all these.
****************************

We discuss each of these, and every student I have ever had could see
that they are all slightly different, and they can discuss the nuances. 
No one will learn to write with these nuances by using grammar checks. 
All are correct; none is quite the same.

I want to add that the sound is an effect of the punctuation, which acts
as a cue--like a director's notes--rather than sound determining
punctuation.  One can choose the sound BY the choice of punctuation, and
thus one can also determine slight but powerful differences in meaning. 
An example is the following by Kathleen Parker (who drives me nuts): 
"Muslims ever alert to any perceived slight to their culture or religion
have taken yet another hostage in what appears to be a concerted assault
on freedom of speech."  I ask my students which Muslims, and they all
know, and then I ask them what it would mean with commas around "ever
alert to. . .religion," and they recognize what a political change that
is.  And they get over the notion that commas are just arbitrary and
tiresome rules pretty quickly.  Interestingly, many other sentences in
Parker's article give the impression that it is really the latter
meaning without ever saying so.
Cheers,
Nancy
Nancy












>>> [log in to unmask] 04/12/06 11:24 AM >>>
>Nonetheless, I give students a list of sentences--all with the same
>words (or in a few cases the addition of a "because" or "and") but
>different syntax and/or punctuation.  I have never had a student who
did
>not immediately say they did not mean the same.  And they can all
>explain the difference even if they do not have the grammatical terms
>for it.

That sounds like a great exercise; do you have an electronic copy of the
list, and would you be willing to share it?
 
Martha Kolln's Rhetorical Grammar: Grammatical Choices, Rhetorical
Effects has a chapter that makes a similar point about punctuation
 
Brian
Brian O'Sullivan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English
Montgomery Hall 50
18952 E. Fisher Rd.
St. Mary's College of Maryland
St. Mary's City, Maryland
20686
240-895-4225

________________________________

From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. on behalf of Nancy Gish
Sent: Wed 4/12/2006 11:10 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: (OT) Towards a speech of the machine ...



Yes and no.

The commas do, in this case, cue the reader to stress and pause.  But
that is not necessarily the case with a semi-colon rather than a period:
 there is an immense difference that can often only be recognized in
print.  Writing makes meaning in many ways that are sound cues, but it
also does so in ways not just revealed in sound.  Another is the choice
of a colon or semi-colon between two independent clauses.  Not everyone
would give a sound cue, but they indicate quite different relations
between the clauses.

Nonetheless, I give students a list of sentences--all with the same
words (or in a few cases the addition of a "because" or "and") but
different syntax and/or punctuation.  I have never had a student who did
not immediately say they did not mean the same.  And they can all
explain the difference even if they do not have the grammatical terms
for it.
Nancy

>>> [log in to unmask] 04/12/06 1:16 AM >>>
The commas reflect pronunciation. It is the
sound, or lack thereof which carries the meaning.

P.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Nancy Gish" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, April 10, 2006 11:39 PM
Subject: Re: (OT) Towards a speech of the machine ...


> In fact, I can (and do) give examples of each to writing classes from
> first year to faculty every year, and they all--without
> exception--recognize and can explain the difference in
meaning--despite
> the fact that few know the terms. The following sentences have quite
> different meanings, and every native English speaker will recognize
> that:
>
> The girl who was intelligent went home.
> The girl, who was intelligent, went home.
>
> The first sentence gives us information not available in the second.
>
> To carry this further, imagine the horrors of a grammar-checked
version
> of Faulkner--all those winding, convoluted sentences "fixed" by
> simplistic rules.  Or, worse, Joyce:  the grammar-checked and fully
> revised for comprehension by computer of _Ulysses_.
>
> This, by the way, validates rules, not the opposited.  It is because
> commas have meaning that the two sentences above have different
> meanings.  And no rule requires either one in any specific
> instance--only an author can decide which to say.  It is a case of
> crystal clear writing because it makes a precise and significant
> distinction.
> Nancy
>
>
> >>> [log in to unmask] 04/11/06 12:04 AM >>>
> A lot of people wouldn't know what type of clause you intended either.
> Could be case of unclear writing.
>
> Peter
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Nancy Gish" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Monday, April 10, 2006 12:17 PM
> Subject: Re: (OT) Towards a speech of the machine ...
>
>
> > Here is something computers and math cannot do (by definition I am
> > sure):  know whether I intend a restrictive or nonrestrictive clause
> > where it is optional.  Hence the pointlessness of grammar checks,
> which
> > do not seem to know any grammar.
> > Nancy
> >
> > >>> [log in to unmask] 4/10/2006 3:03 pm >>>
> > Three is an entire field called 'Knowledge Representation' which
> exists
> > to
> > do things exactly like this.
> >
> > In regard to the recent comments on Diderot, there is a project
called
> > 'Cyc'
> > which is intended to encode all of the common sense and other
> knowledge
> > that
> > people use (Cyc as in encyclopedia). For example, Cyc is supposed to
> be
> > able
> > to surmise and thus know that if Alice is the mother of Bob then by
> > implication Alice is older than Bob. It would be able to build up a
> set
> > of
> > rules and facts that would allow it to understand how the world
> > operates.
> >
> > Cyc is a massive database project that has been going on for many
> > years. Cyc
> > was supposed to be able to take human-level queries about real world
> > issues
> > and create useful answers. Now if Cyc were able to do this, it would
> be
> >
> > known far outside the AI community. Since it is not, this is the
> answer
> > to
> > your question on the ability of mathematics to represent real world
> > knowledge. Determining that the mother of Bob is older than Bob is a

> > significant achievement for this program. Now consider this program
> > understanding or writing poetry.
> >
> > Knowledge beyond the trivial is beyond the scope of mathematics.
> >
> >
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Vishvesh Obla" <[log in to unmask]>
> > To: <[log in to unmask]>
> > Sent: Monday, April 10, 2006 2:36 PM
> > Subject: (OT) Towards a speech of the machine ...
> >
> >
> > Written elsewhere but relevant to a discussion a few
> > days before:
> >
> > --------------------
> >
> > A few days before when a few friends of mine were
> > sending me birthday wishes which led to further
> > correspondence when I remarked that after you cross a
> > certain age, birth days also bring in an acute feeling
> > of your age, a friend of mine  made a humorous remark
> > (from a Tamil song) : 'Andondru pOnal vayadhondru
> > kUdum.'.  I was struck by the beauty of the line for
> > the tint of sarcasm (which was humorous) it had.
> >
> > Another friend who was not a Tamilian wanted to know
> > what it meant.  While I was stumbling at various
> > expressions to translate it so that it would also
> > convey that subtle sarcasm, my wife, who is a computer
> > programmer as well, had translated it without batting
> > her eyelid with a quick :
> >
> > if year++ then age ++
> >
> > I was stunned by that expression which I don't know
> > what to term as.  It wasn't translation, to say the
> > obvious. You could translate the lyric blandly as
> > 'With the passing of a year, your age increases as
> > well' or, if someone had the ability to versify in
> > English, write something equally memorable (with that
> > subtle sarcasm).  But this was neither. It was an
> > entire transformation of an *idea* in mathematical
> > terms. For, the expression had the precise
> > mathematical equivalent of what the lyric conveyed.
> >
> > I was struck by it by the questions it arose in my
> > mind.  Language is of course about conveying sense
> > through verbal and written communication, but what
> > becomes of communication when it becomes mathematical
> > ? It sure does gain in great clarity and precision,
> > but I was wondering how oblivious it is of the
> > imaginative faculty that enriches language by its
> > creative breath.  The development of language goes
> > through various phases of alterations.  Various
> > changes are constantly brought in to it by various
> > factors as the development of its various dialects,
> > influences of other languages etc.  When the written
> > form of it gets standardized it brings in a great
> > change as well for many languages.  Change is
> > permanent, no doubt.  But I was a little concerned
> > about a development as this : that is, to express a
> > sentiment through mathematical terms.  For, I believe,
> > this change is going to stay in and influence stronger
> > than any other changes the human mind earlier could
> > adopt itself to or assimilate while still retaining
> > its innate sense of the breath of life a language has
> > in it inherently.  We have already heard of computers
> > composing music and poetry.  Is creativity a
> > mathematical logic and precision in expression as that
> > of that code which expresses the idea brilliantly ?  I
> > was wondering if in an age when Technology has
> > advanced at an unbelievable speed, mankind would
> > invariably be more and more pushed towards such
> > precise expressions possibly altering language to an
> > entirely different level that has been unseen
> > hitherto.
> >
> > Are we seeing the *dawn* of it already ?   Or is it a
> > doom ?
> >
> > __________________________________________________
> > Do You Yahoo!?
> > Tired of spam?  Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
> > http://mail.yahoo.com
> >
> >
> > --
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> 4/7/2006
> >
> >
>
>
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