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What is the plural of Algorithm ?

Nicholas Jordan
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I tried google and D.E.K.


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Henry Wong
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  40

I generally use "algorithms" to refer to more than one algorithm.

Henry


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Paul Clapham
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    8

The plural is "algorithms". It follows the standard rule for forming plurals of English words because it has been a word in the English language since the 13th century.
Nicholas Jordan
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Thank both you - I always want to construct such things with a fanciful excursus in the form of an etymology of the word, and will sleep better at night already.

Isn't javaranch amazing ?

Nowhere could one get this caliber of help if one were paying for it.
rohit leeta
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I remember courses/books like "Introduction to Algorithms". So it should be valid and accepted.


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Rohit Nath
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Let me guess..
"algorithms"

Google results: "define: algorithms"


R.N
Christophe Verré
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  16

because it has been a word in the English language since the 13th century

Actually, it seems that "algorism" was there, but "algorithm" came later


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Jim Yingst
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"I invented the internet", for example.


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fred rosenberger
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  16

Al Gore never said "I invented the internet".


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Jim Yingst
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True - and yet it's widely "known" that he said it. It was intended as a quick joke, nothing more.
[ May 16, 2007: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
Michael Matola
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http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2007/02/19/070219crbo_books_menand
Frank Silbermann
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I suppose that one could ask what the plural is in Arabic. But if you're going to be that historically correct and if you are going to use an English definite or indefinite article -- you should probably leave off the "al-" prefix.

I.e., "the gorithm" or "a gorithm" or "yet another gorithm" -- but not "the al-gorithm" as that would be redundant.
Christophe Verré
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  16

Wow, it took me some time to understand that one
Michael Matola
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FS:
I suppose that one could ask what the plural is in Arabic. But if you're going to be that historically correct and if you are going to use an English definite or indefinite article -- you should probably leave off the "al-" prefix.

I.e., "the gorithm" or "a gorithm" or "yet another gorithm" -- but not "the al-gorithm" as that would be redundant.


In modern language study, it's generally considered a fallacy to claim that

(1) the "true" meaning of a word is the word's meaning at some arbitrary point in the past.
(2) the "true" meaning of a word can be divined from a strict reading of the word's etymons. (<- Tee hee. Yes, "etymons" is deliberate.)

Related to point (2), when a language (target) borrows a word or phrase or expression or whatever from another (source), the target has no obligation to honor anything about the borrowing in the source. The pronunciation can change to suit the target language's sound system. (This includes placement of stress.) The meaning can narrow or widen. The target can use the borrowing in ways not possible in the source. The borrowing, like anything else in the target, can change over time. The target language *tends* to borrow the thing as a whole and really needn't be concerned how the borrowing was made up of some constituent parts in the source.

Sure, we all know that "al-" was an article in all those words from Arabic. That doesn't mean that there's anything logically, grammatically, or stylistically objectionable about any of the following.

How'd you do on the algebra test?
Was the El Nino--Southern Oscillation responsible for the warm winter?
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Devesh H Rao
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Originally posted by Nicholas Jordan:
What is the plural of Algorithm ?


Confusion
Frank Silbermann
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Originally posted by Michael Matola:

when a language (target) borrows a word or phrase or expression or whatever from another (source), the target has no obligation to honor anything about the borrowing in the source. The pronunciation can change to suit the target language's sound system. (This includes placement of stress.) The meaning can narrow or widen. The target can use the borrowing in ways not possible in the source. The borrowing, like anything else in the target, can change over time. The target language *tends* to borrow the thing as a whole and really needn't be concerned how the borrowing was made up of some constituent parts in the source.
Yes, the borrowing language _can_ do all of that -- just like you _can_ kill and eat your children. Just because a language _can_ do those things doesn't mean it's right to do them.

Actually, when the borrowing language is English I believe it is appropriate for the source language to change the word's meaning to be consistent with the English usage. It would be nice if, for example, someone finally informed the world's Spanish speakers that most hats nowadays are not sombreros (except in certain very entertaining bad Clint Eastwood movies from the 1960s), and told the Germans that only certain breeds of dogs are hounds.
Greg Charles
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  11

I'm confused. What would it be besides algorithms? I know English plurals can be confusing. I've even seen otherwise intelligent people writing the word "viruses" as "virii". However, I don't see why "algorithm" might even fool you into thinking it would violate the ordinary "add an S" rule.

Also, Frank, what what is Spanish for hats that aren't sombreros? (or is it sombrerii?) BTW, I'm glad you worked out the what's possible vs. what's right issue. I'm sure your children are sleeping easier these days!
marc weber
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What's all this got to do with Algo's rhythm? :roll:


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Paul Clapham
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Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:
But if you're going to be that historically correct and if you are going to use an English definite or indefinite article -- you should probably leave off the "al-" prefix.

I.e., "the gorithm" or "a gorithm" or "yet another gorithm" -- but not "the al-gorithm" as that would be redundant.
This redundantness happens all the time when people are talking about words in other languages. I recently read a magazine article that kept mentioning "the Hardangerjokulen glacier". But that long Norwegian name means "the Hardanger glacier" all by itself, so to be picky, the article was talking about "the the Hardanger glacier glacier".
Mapraputa Is
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Frank: Just because a language _can_ do those things doesn't mean it's right to do them.

Can I ask "why"? What exactly is not right?
[ May 17, 2007: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]

Uncontrolled vocabularies
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Jim Yingst
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I wonder if Frank had titled his post "A Modest Proposal", would it have had a better chance of being interpreted as intended?
Burkhard Hassel
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Hi ranchers,

marc weber wrote

What's all this got to do with Algo's rhythm?

Did you mean Algal Rhythms?
See this article:
http://www.awi-bremerhaven.de/Benthic/CoastalEco/chronobiology/CMchrono3.html



Perhaps, we could keep it with algorithms. It sounds totally silly if you say: "I am working on a new gorithm". And for example if you fly with El Al, and you leave the spanish and arabic out, nothing remains
On the other hand, perhaps if you are writing in a newspaper about the great mosque in Jerusalem, you might say "The Aqsa mosque". But also here I would prefer it with Al (not The Gore) as "The Al-Aqsa mosque". Simply because you got used to it.


By the way: Doesn't arabic has not only singular and plural but also a dual?

And what if the borrowing language has no flection nor article nor plural at all? Like japanese?

One sushi
Two sushi
Three sushis
Four sushii
A sushi school


But what really makes my footnails roll up is when someone writes: "I found an errata in the K&B book" ...

Yours,
Bu.


all events occur in real time
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Jim: I wonder if Frank had titled his post "A Modest Proposal", would it have had a better chance of being interpreted as intended?

Another prescriptivist among us!

Here is what my linguistic cultural icon said, listen and memorize. There will be a test.

Yes, descriptivists (better known as "linguists") describe language as it is, not as they might like it to be, just the way astronomers describe the universe as it is and physicists describe subatomic particles as they are. What would be the point of an astronomer condemning a planet for not being the kind of planet he prefers?
http://www.languagehat.com/archives/002750.php


Jim, you might want to read "The Unfolding of a language" by Guy Deutscher for proper re-education on the issue. Seriously, a very good book.
Jim Yingst
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[Me]: I wonder if Frank had titled his post "A Modest Proposal", would it have had a better chance of being interpreted as intended?

Apparently not. Oh well.
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Well, he didn't?

Seriously, maybe I am stupid, I didn't get what your "A Modest Proposal" amendment would change?
Nicholas Jordan
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Originally posted by marc weber:
What's all this got to do with Algo's rhythm? :roll:


Al Bundy goes dancing.
Jim Yingst
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Map, I was referencing the classic satirical essay by Jonathan Swift. My intent was to suggest that perhaps people were interpreting Frank's comments too literally. I don't mean to suggest a deep parallel with Swift's essay (though Frank's reference to eating children does suggest that he might have been thinking of the Swift essay).

While Swift had larger argumentative goals in what he wrote, I see Frank's post as more like a joking argument one might make with friends while drinking. Note the use of and along the way. And his points seem to become increasingly preposterous - which is, I think, intentional.

The first post is pretty reasonable, with "if you're going to be that historically correct" thrown in to indicate that this idea is optional, and may not reflect the author's own preferred usage.

The subsequent post suggesting that it's wrong for a borrowing language to change things might be plausible... but comparing it to eating children is a bit over the top, no?

And the next paragraph pretty much contradicts this, suggesting that instead, any changes made by the borrowing language should be inflicted on the original language. "Hund" in German means dog. Not a specific breed of dog, but all dogs. Should the Germans really change their language because English has co-opted this word to apply to a specific subset of canine breeds? Of course not. This is a tip-off (coupled with smilies) that maybe the argument was not intended to be taken seriously. Same for "sombrero", which (as far as I know) does in fact mean "hat" in MexicanSpanish. In English it's a very specific kind of wide-brimmed hat.

Do you really think any vaguely-intelligent person would seriously suggest that the German and Spanish languages should be revised to retroactively accommodate English usage? I don't. I took Frank's post as a joke. I didn't get it until the last paragraph, but when I did, I laughed. It was funny. And when others here continued to take it seriously... I laughed some more. No offense intended to the fine minds who posted here. But I really think you guys missed the intent of the post.
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He, this is funny how differently a post can be interpreted...

Jim: Do you really think any vaguely-intelligent person would seriously suggest that the German and Spanish languages should be revised to retroactively accommodate English usage?

Well, no, I read it as a joke. But I thought Frank added it in an act of self-mocking, while his "Just because a language _can_ do those things doesn't mean it's right to do them." I thought was serious, or at least half-serious. I can be wrong, of course...

I sometimes did that too, and I also used to confuse people. Once I even managed to develop an idea totally seriously in the first half of the sentence, and then to mock it in the second. Maybe Frank just wanted to revenge.

Thanks for the link to "A Modest Proposal" -- hey, it's funy.
Jim Yingst
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To be fair, I don't know if Frank intended all of his two posts as a joke, or just the end. The fact that one paragraph seems to contradict the previous one suggests he may have changed his approach to the topic. I could be misinterpreting. Maybe he was serious for 2/3 of his text, then changed his mind. Or maybe 1/3, or maybe he was joking from the beginning. I see his posts as a way of ironically pointing out the inherent limitations on attempts to impose a single linguistic interpretation upon cross-cultural borrowings.
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Hm, found an old quote from Frank when we discussed the mediopassive

Frank: The use is cute and novel purely for the sake of novelty. (Language change may be unavoidable, but when it can be avoided it's not a good thing.)
URL



Of course now I am not sure ho to interpret it, but I like Jim's: "the inherent limitations on attempts to impose a single linguistic interpretation upon cross-cultural borrowings."
[ May 20, 2007: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Jim Yingst
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This all reminds me of an amusing excerpt from a novel I enjoyed, The Phoenix Guards by Steven Brust. It's a fantasy novel, and also a pastiche of Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers. Unfortunately the text has numerous references to various imagined peoples and places, that don't really concern us here. In one case, "Easterners" can be loosely mapped to "Hungarians". Otherwise, just assume that any new term you encounter maps to some imaginary country, people, and/or empire. Feel free to replace "Serioli" or "Dragonlords" with "USA" or "Russia" or whatever suits your socio-political outlook. Brust is describing the history of a location the main characters are encountering: Bengloarafurd Bridge.
The first to discover the place were, according to legend, advance scouts of the House of the Dragon in the Fourth Cycle, who were in the vanguard of the Imperial Army which which was anxious to drive the Easterners beyond the mountains in hopes of reducing the raids to which the eastern boundaries were then being subjected. They followed the Climbing River down from the North, and found a shallow spot where there lived an independent tribe of Serioli.

What followed was ten years of almost constant war between the Dragonlords of the Empire and the Easterners, during which the Easterners occupied the area and fought from the surrounding mountains. The Serioli, who departed the area to avoid any of the unfortunate incidents that war can produce, left only the name of the place, which was "Ben", meaning "ford" in their language. The Easterners called the place "Ben Ford", or, in the Eastern tongue, "Ben gazlo".

After ten years of fierce battle, the Imperial Army won a great victory on the spot, driving the Easterners well back into the mountains. The Dragonlords who had found the place, then, began calling it "Bengazlo Ford". The Dragons, wishing to waste as little time on speech as possible, shortened this to Benglo Ford, or, in the tongue of the Dragon, which was still in use at the time, "Benglo ara". Eventually over the course of the milennia, the tongue of the Dragon fell out of use, and the North-western language gained preeminence, which rendered the location Bengloara Ford, which was eventually shortened to Bengloarafurd. The river crossing became the Bengloarafurd Ford, which name it held until the Interregnum when the river was dredged and the Bengloarafurd Bridge was built. Should anyone be interested in finding this delightful city, it still stands, and the bridge still appears with the name we have cited, but the city was renamed Troe after the engineer who built the bridge, either either because the citizens were proud of their new landmark, or because the engineer's name was short.

[ May 20, 2007: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
Mapraputa Is
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The Dragonlords who had found the place, then, began calling it "Bengazlo Ford". The Dragons, wishing to waste as little time on speech as possible, shortened this to Benglo Ford...


That sounds very similar to what Guy Deutscher describes in "The Unfolding of a language" about natural languages! He said there are always two conflicting tendencies at work when new words are invented: to make them longer (often by gluing words together) and to make them shorter, by dropping some sounds.
Jim Yingst
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Well, damn. Now I may have to actually read the link Map provided. Naturally, I'd hoped to avoid that.
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He, here is more about Bengloarafurd .
[ May 20, 2007: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Mapraputa Is
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Guy Deutscher wrote in Chapter 3 "The Forces of Destruction" (and accidentally mentioned Swift):

"There many other types of linguistic labour-saving devices, but ultimately they are all variations on the same theme, and follow the principle of least effort: 'pronounce as little as you can get away with'. When it comes to language, we are all bone-idle, and especially in rapid speech, we tend to expend only the minimal amount of energy on pronunciation, just enough to make sure that the listener gets the intended meaning. ...

In Modern English, for example, words like disturbed or loved are writted with -ed at the end, although they are pronounced {disturbd}, {lovd}. The reason for the extra -e is that such words were originally ronounced {disturb�d}, {lov�d}, with an audible vowel at the end. At the beginning of the eighteenth century the shortened pronunciation was still rather new-fangled, and as such attracted the wrath of Jonathan Swift. In his splentic rant of 1712, Swift had this to say about pronunciations such as lov'd and rebuk't, rather than the correct lov�d and rebuk�d: 'By leaving out a Vowel to save a Syllable, we form so jarring a Sound, and so difficult to utter, so I often wondered how it could ever obtain ... This perpetual Disposition to shorten our Words, by retrenching the Vowels, is noting else but a tendency to lapse into the Barbarity of those Northen Nations from whom we are descended.'


Another example, closer to our Bengloarafurd:

Swift may have been scandalized by the loss of a vowel from the end of words, but in fact, the disappearance of just one vowel is fairly light casualty. Consider, for instance, what happened to the portly Latin phrase persica malus 'Persian apple', with its dive juicy vowels and seven luscious consonants. It ended up in French as a word of just one vowel and two consonants: first, the whole second word was dropped altogether, leaving persica. Then the vowel i disappeared to give persca, which was further shortened to pesca, then to pesche, and finally p�che, ending up on English palates as rather thrivelled 'peach'.


I would only add that in Russian persica malus (or whatever was borrowed, most likely from French) lost only the last word and the last vowel, ending up as persic.
[ May 20, 2007: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Mapraputa Is
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More of Guy Deutscher, this time from Chapter 5 "The Forces of Creation". An imagined dialog between a journalist and Dr. De Troy.

JOURNALIST: Sorry for being a bit slow on the uptake, but there' something that's still bothering me. If erosion is behind it all, and if even the birth of new endings is really just a part of the same process of reduction, the how come words don't just get shorter and shorter all the time, until they dissolve completely?

DE TROY. That's a very good question ... It's true that erosion makes words shorter and shorter, but speakers also start stringing two words together again, for instance by putting a new postposition after the noun. And then the whole cycle can start afresh when the new postpositions fuse with the noun.

JOURNALIST: But what's the point of stringing words together? Why bother?

DE TROY: Often the point is just to make a point, to be more emphatic. ...

What do you think 'one the day of on the day of this day' means?

RSPEL MEMBER: It sounds alarmingly like one of your dialectical reconstructions.

DE TROY: Oh, I am afraid it's really something much more prosaic. Let's see what you make of the history of the French word for 'today'. Once upon a time, in the days before records of Latin began, there must have been a phrase hoc die, which means '(on) this day'. By the time of attested Latin, this phrase had eroded and fused into one word, hodie 'today'. Later on, in Old French, hodie was ground down into a meager hui, but the French soon found that they couldn't utter this paltry syllable with enough emphasis, so they piled up more words, and started saying au jour d'hui, literally 'on the day of this-day'. But with repeated use, this became a set phrase, and so it fused into one word again: ajourd'hui. And nowadays in colloquial French, the same cycle is beginning all over again. A mere ajourd'hui is not deemed to have sufficient presence, and so to emphasize it, the French have started saying au jour ajourd'hui - literally 'one-the-day-of-on-the-day-of-this-day'. As you can imagine, this usage is frowned upon by some purists, but things have now sunk so low that you can find the phrase in practically any French dictionary, even if still labeled 'colloquial'.


I guess, what I am trying to say is that the same forces of lanuage change that we often blame today, created the very same language.
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Now see, this is the kind of careful research I had been hoping for when I first mentioned "A Modest Proposal".
Nicholas Jordan
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Noting first that those with the Doctorates have provided me with the opportunity to prove that I have no fear of shame: They have totally lost me in a ballet of nuance I cannot hope to keep up with, I wish to take up your assertion:
Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:
Actually, when the borrowing language is English I believe it is appropriate for the source language to change the word's meaning to be consistent with the English usage.

So as to pursue a secondary purpose of the "What is the plural of Algorithm ?" ( Original Post)Given that saloon.javaranch's elite secretly plot world domination, and that changing (a) word's meaning to be consistent with the English usage is one way to do that, we have a question of:
Yes, the borrowing language _can_ do all of that -- just like you _can_ kill and eat your children. Just because a language _can_ do those things doesn't mean it's right to do them.

We there in have possible
Conflict of Laws and Substantive Rules
Noting, for the casual observer who may not conduct 10kb posts on coffee, that your K&E (possible proposed replacement for K&R ?) is absurd for clarity; I would like to ask what happens when a Nation's linguistic is carrying concepts that cannot be expressed in the borrowing language ? E.G. is there any other word used in ISO latin-1 dialects that has the three letter sequence 'thm' ? And from where/what would this letter combonation have derived ? Observe that with some room for comment, it is characteristic of human behaviour that when there is a lack of something to do, inflection and nuance of enunciation take precedence over action in the corporeal. This question stands out to me - I am an action oriented person and find this behaviour is observed by me in persons who are supposed to be helping me in my daily work and is a non-trivial question.
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Jim: Now see, this is the kind of careful research I had been hoping for when I first mentioned "A Modest Proposal".

Do you mean your "A Modest Proposal" hint? It was too subtle for me to decipher. Not knowing what you referred to, or, rather that you did refer to something, I interpreted it as simply a plausible title for Frank's post. Otherwise I would certainly try to google it out... But I had no more reasons to google for it than for any other random string of words. That's the general problem with hidden quotes, collocations etc. -- I would only think about searching for them if they clearly "stand out" of the rest of the sentence. For example, once in Michael Ernest's post I read something like "... but if you want a kinder, gentler sheriff..." -- it didn't attract my attention until I met this "kinder, gentler" string of words for the second, third, fourth time in other assorted contexts.

Then there are a lot of cases that lie between these two extremes. Often I feel that something is not quite right, something fishy is going on, but it is almost subconscious thought. I often dismiss it with some quick plausible explanation, again, almost without realizing this, and proceed to the next sentence. In our case, the comparison Frank used, chaotic forces of language change and behavior of human beings eating their children did look bizarre to me, but I rationalized it as being perhaps his style. A while ago he said something along the lines that it is no wonder that ethicists steal more book than philosophers of other branches because the ethic of the XX century isn't based on any solid ground (not sure it's an exact quote). Was similar enough for me.

With your post, I was confused what you meant. I thought you probably decided to "soften" his message with this "A Modest Proposal" title. I didn't understand what it would change, and in hindsight I should have noticed that some is fishy, because usually you do not express yourself in such a vague way, but I did not. It probably a matter of habit -- when reading, I meet lot of unknown information (names of celebrities which say nothing to me for one example) I usually just skip, for the lack of time or interest to investigate further. And often enough I feel that something is not "quite right", that I don't fully understand what the sentence means because I don�t know a word, or some phrase, and again it would be extremely time consuming to check each and every such occasion. So I settle for "good enough" understanding. It works most of the time, but sometimes leads to misunderstanding.

To reverse the situation, if it was me who wrote your post, I could use "What to do?" title, referring to the novel by XIX century Russian writer N. Chernyshevsky. Would you think about googling for this title? Well, perhaps you heard about Lenin's article with the same name so you would think about googling for it, dunno.
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My attitude is that the purpose of language is communication and understanding, and that it best achieves this purpose when it most enhances my understanding and best facilitates other people's communication with me, Frank Silbermann.

Using the above as a guiding principle, the _general_ rule is that borrowing languages ought to respect the meaning and pronuniciation of the source language so as to minimize the amount of new information that I, Frank Silbermann, need to learn.

However, there are some exceptions that prove the rule. For example, English has borrowed words from other languages and modified their meanings after which I, Frank Silbermann, became acquainted with them via English. Changing the meanings of those words in the source languages which I may not yet have learned to be consistent with the English usage would enhance other people's ability to communicate with me, Frank Silbermann.

That would be why, for example, Spanish speakers should stop using the word "sombrero" to refer to hats in general, and rather should use that word only to refer to stereotypical Mexican hats of the kind worn by the Frito Bandito (the cartoon macot for Fritos corn chips between 1967 and 1971). Because that is the concept that I, Frank Silbermann, first learned to associate with the word "sombrero."


[ May 22, 2007: Message edited by: Frank Silbermann ]
 
 
subject: What is the plural of Algorithm ?