Notes on English

most common langs in the world:
1st – Mandarin Chinese
2nd – Spanish
3rd – English

English is the leading language of international discourse.

required lang. of:
1) communications
2) science
3) information technology
4) business
5) seafaring
6) aviation
7) entertainment
8) radio
9) diplomacy
The purpose of language is to communicate.
Languages change over time.

I think it would be in everyone’s interest to gravitate toward standards of grammar, lest the language becomes fragmented into small dialects to the point where cummunication is lost between groups and chaos ensues.

To communicate clearly between two entities each must have the same or similar standards of meaning.

If someone asks for a pen and is given a pencil, she might say, “Close enough.”

One area of difficulty with English at the moment is the generic pronoun problem. For centuries the generic pronoun was male. The word “he” was used when we didn’t know what sex the person would be as in: “When someone speaks we may not know what gender he is.” Lately, what I’ve noticed is affirmative action in the use of the female pronoun to stand in for the generic. The writers are trying to make up for all those years of the patriarch culture.

Pronouns used as objects of prepositions are commonly (even by intelligent people) wrong. “Me and him went down to the store.” That one is pretty obvious. One mistake I hear a lot is something like: “It’s me!” or “He did it for you and I.” That one is more common. I think the reason why some people do it is that they are trying to be correct. Out of guilt of poor grammar they use bad grammar. There are some who suggest using the word “they” or “their” as a generic singular pronoun even though they are plural. Of course, we do have a generic singular pronoun: “it”. But we need to retain the person. “When someone speaks we may not know what gender it is.” or “…they are”. There has to be a better solution. The word “they” used to be accepted as a singular pronoun, but today it has plurality, as referring to a group.

Here’s a sentence from the CMS myth blog: “There’s good reason to be skeptical if you hear a salesperson say it will be easy to deliver personalized content with their solution.” Notice the “their”, I assume referring to the singular “salesperson”, although it could refer to the whole team that the salesperson is representing.

words of the day:
acrimonious – a word I’ve heard a lot lately, meaning angry, bitter, acerbic, sarcastic, acidic, resentful

heuristic – a word in computer science, a heuristic is a technique designed for solving a problem more quickly when classic methods are too slow, or for finding an approximate solution when classic methods fail to find any exact solution. By trading optimality, completeness, accuracy, and/or precision for speed, a heuristic can quickly produce a solution that is good enough for solving the problem at hand, as opposed to finding all exact solutions in a prohibitively long time.

fuzzy logic — searching for near-matches and associations (e.g., a search for ‘Jonathan Smith’ also returns results for ‘John Smith’).