tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Mar 29 09:41:56 1994

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Me, Nick, et al

Ok, let me just comment briefly on the latest brouhaha that seems to
have been stirred up by Nick's comments on my saga.

1) Because of local mail failure, I never received or saw Nick's
original post, nor the flames which followed, so I don't really know
what this is all about, and that is why I have never jumped into the

2) From what I can gather from what I *have* seen, people found his
comments rather on the picayune side.  It is possible that I might
agree with that assessment, but, not having seen them, I reserve

3) What I *did* see was Nick's recent statement on the matter, in
which he says he was not trying to dump on me but just to discuss
legitimate points of style and all.  Since I haven't seen the
original, I can't comment on how valid a claim this might be, so
I'll certainly give him the benefit of the doubt.  Certainly, my
stuff is open to stylistic discussion, as I have explicitly said in
the past.  Indeed, I welcome it and hope to learn and profit by it.

4) Nick himself refers to his comments as "corrections", and it is
here that I think we begin to go awry.  To the extent that the
comments are indeed corrections-- that is, the fixing of definite
grammatical mistakes-- it is simply not his job to be doing so.
There is another grammarian around to pick up on QaghHommeyna'wIj,
and unless mark fumbled the ball and didn't respond over some
reasonable period of time, they should have been left for him.
Since my original post was rather lengthy, I would hope that this
lay-off time period would be rather generous.

Stylistic matters, on the other hand, while completely open for
comment, cannot be properly called "corrections", because, by
definition, we are talking about things *which are matters of
opinion*.  To correct someone is to say that you are right and they
are wrong, and this is just not what goes on in the domain of style.
We tend to get a reasonably high level of concurrance on stylistic
matters around here, once they are pointed out and discussed, and
this is good-- but concurrance is seldom universal.  We do a lot of
inferring and interpreting when we choose style and as such it is
open to dispute.  Even the Grammarians do not "correct" anybody here
on matters of style, because there simply is no absolute right or
wrong.  Even if *everybody* who is subscribed to this list right now
at this moment agreed on a given stylistic point, that would still
not make it a rule by which we could judge "right"/"wrong"; a new
person could come on tomorrow and do it differently and there would
be no basis upon which to correct them-- no canonical text to point
to and say "See? You violated this."  Just all our opinions.  In the
realm of style, we have only opinions, not facts.

Indeed, this is the *reason* why style is open to discussion in the
first place.  The very fact that *everybody's* opinion is
potentially valuable and may provide useful insight means that such
discussion is profitable and not redundant.  If style were a
black/white issue, there would be no reason to discuss it.

These comments also apply, of course, to the more ambiguous and
ill-defined regions of the grammar.  By definition they are not
black/white and as such are open to discussion.  In general, they
are not open to correction either, unless a standard his been
formally declared for this list.  At this time, the only such decree
that I can think of off the top of my head is that we do not presume
noun-forms for simple verbs, even though a case can be made that
Okrand left the door open for precisely that in the section on -ghach.

My comments here, by the way, are not directed at Nick specifically,
but just to everyone, so that, hopefully, we're all on the same
page.  I have no evidence at this time that he in any way violated
any of this, other than his description of the comments as
"corrections", which may well not have been meant to be read too

So, again, to summarize:  You cannot correct style.  You can
suggest, you can explain, you can attempt to persuade.  I, for one,
am certainly open to such suggestions, and it is no slight to me to
have them be offered.  I don't promise to agree with every one, but
I shall certainly consider them, and I would hope that we all feel
this way.  If Nick's comments were indeed offered in that spirit, as
he claims, then it was inappropriate for people to jump on him for it.

5) As a side matter:  I suspect that there are stylistic issues that
came up with which I would normally agree with but explicitly
violated in this particular story.  The reason is this:  The story
was about something that happened to me years ago-- well before I
became a Klingon {{;-)-- and as such is told without my usual
presumption of Klingon persona.  Instead I was trying to capture the
same flavour in the Klingon that I use when I tell the story in
English (as I have done many, many times).  So there may well be
things that were done to convey not just the meaning, but the sense
of how I would've said it in English, which might give rise to
complaints of over-Anglicisation.  I don't know, I'd have to look at
the complaints.

6) So okay, having said all that, I guess I should actually read the
original comments.  {{:-)  Nick, wanna send it to me again?
[email protected]

7) While it is no secret that Nick and I have not always seen eye to
eye in the past, there is certainly no feud or anything between us,
(at least not from my end!), and there is no reason for people to
feel like they have to "take sides" or anything like that.  I was
very happy to see the posts by some folk (Guido and charghwI', if
memory serves) refusing to take sides and expressing respect for
both of our contributions.  I would hope that people will judge
issues based on the relative merits of the arguments put forth--
not based on *who* is putting them forth-- rather than divide into
hostile camps of "Krankorians" vs "anti-Krankorians", or whatever.

Let us also pause once in a while to remember that, regardless of
what disputes or frictions any of us may have with any other of us
here, we're all fundamentally *on the same side*.  No matter how
violently you may disagree with someone over, say, the proper way to
formulate a law'/puS construction, remember that that person *at
least knows what a law/puS construction IS*, and as such is still
your friend and ally, compared to all the mundanes you know who
think you're nuts for speaking Klingon.  (I am reminded here of the
scene in the Klingon civil war episode where Worf and his brother
are in the bar drinking with the opposition  {{:-)

Alright, enough of my pontificating.  Let's get back to the fun!


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