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Cranky
Posted: 25 August 2010 06:00 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Seems to be a lot of intimately installed sand on the forum lately.

Near as I can tell, this is a recent and sudden development. What’s up with that?

Without want to make the situation worse by sounding preachy…

It’s just the internet.

People make mistakes.

Cut your pals here some slack.

Hardly anyone out there is a genuine arsehole.

If someone says something that could be taken as a jovial poke or a mortal insult, there’s a good chance they meant the former. In any case, it’s usually best to assume so.

Language is important, but there are usually no sheep stations on the discussions we have here. We have the luxury of knowing that empires will not rise or fall on the basis of the outcome of our chat.

This is a great place for people who love language, one of the best I’ve found. Doesn’t matter if, like me, you know next to nothing about the topic or are a deadset expert like wg, there are opportunities to teach and learn and (heavens) even have fun.

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Posted: 26 August 2010 05:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Amen.

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Posted: 26 August 2010 06:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Actually, a few weeks ago I seriously considered to delete the Wordorigins link from my favourites, because I was fed up with it. The great topics being dicussed and the good relationship with some of the posters made me decide to come back again.

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Posted: 26 August 2010 07:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Has it really been that bad? I know we have the occasional locking of horns but I’ve always felt that it’s against a background of genuine respect between posters. It’s true that bluntness and plain-speaking have always been in evidence here, but that’s a plus in my book. If offence is ever taken apologies are always quickly offered, I’ve certainly not felt any really bad blood between members, at least not for a long while, and those responsible are long since departed.

Please, let’s not mistake the cut and thrust of debate for real malice. I can’t think of a single post by a regular that I would style malicious or deliberately hurtful, there are few boards that can make such a claim.

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Posted: 26 August 2010 07:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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"Please, let’s not mistake the cut and thrust of debate for real malice. “

Well that’s what I said.

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Posted: 26 August 2010 07:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Kum ba yah, my Lord,
Kum ba yah,

Everybody!

Kum ba yah, my Lord,
Kum ba yah...

I will try to be more careful about posting when I’m feeling very tightly wound.

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Posted: 26 August 2010 08:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Don’t you dare turn mellow on us, Doc! :)

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Posted: 26 August 2010 09:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Please, let’s not mistake the cut and thrust of debate for real malice.

We’re not talking about malice, rather the cutting tone of posts that inhibit opinions and/or discussion.  So the guy posting after you hasn’t been to university, doesn’t know a noun from a verb? - maybe s/he still has something to say that stimulates further discussion which in turn leads to elucidation.  Doesn’t mean he’s less bright, or that he shouldn’t be listened to.  And it certainly doesn’t mean he should be cut to shreds, particularly if he’s new to the forum, and isn’t being unnecessarily provocative or trolling.  This used once to be a fun place to visit.  It then became far too serious, with posters ready to pull others - presumably those they considered an easy target or less knowledgeable - to shreds.  I also deleted it from my favourites list and I also returned, only to find that the same snarkiness is creeping in again.

Maybe Dave should have the last word - is this meant to be a serious forum for linguistic experts only?  (In which case, I’m off. For good.) Or is it for the interested majority who enjoy words and might - just might - have something to offer, if only they’re not inhibited from speaking freely?

Or is point-scoring the main objective?

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Posted: 26 August 2010 09:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I would endorse ElizaD’s comments unedited in their entirety but won’t for fear of getting my old arthritic knuckles rapped. ed-[Actually, now that I think about it, this group has been rather tolerant of my fumbling lately.]

[ Edited: 26 August 2010 09:52 AM by droogie ]
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Posted: 26 August 2010 11:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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ElizaD - 26 August 2010 09:32 AM

Please, let’s not mistake the cut and thrust of debate for real malice.

We’re not talking about malice, rather the cutting tone of posts that inhibit opinions and/or discussion.  So the guy posting after you hasn’t been to university, doesn’t know a noun from a verb? - maybe s/he still has something to say that stimulates further discussion which in turn leads to elucidation.  Doesn’t mean he’s less bright, or that he shouldn’t be listened to.  And it certainly doesn’t mean he should be cut to shreds, particularly if he’s new to the forum, and isn’t being unnecessarily provocative or trolling.  This used once to be a fun place to visit.  It then became far too serious, with posters ready to pull others - presumably those they considered an easy target or less knowledgeable - to shreds.  I also deleted it from my favourites list and I also returned, only to find that the same snarkiness is creeping in again.

Maybe Dave should have the last word - is this meant to be a serious forum for linguistic experts only?  (In which case, I’m off. For good.) Or is it for the interested majority who enjoy words and might - just might - have something to offer, if only they’re not inhibited from speaking freely?

Or is point-scoring the main objective?

I’m sorry, I just don’t recognize the place from your characterization. We’ve always gone out of our way here to welcome new posters. And I have never known a divide here between the professional linguists and the rest of us. We all have our own knowledge and experience to bring to the table and I really thought there was a real respect and, yes, affection between regular members here. I’ve long looked upon this place as my home on the net, if we have to start tiptoeing around in case someone’s feelings get hurt then I really don’t think I’d want to stay.

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Posted: 26 August 2010 12:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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The forum is not meant to be for experts only.

I wouldn’t characterize the recent tone as “snarkiness,” however. It’s more hypersensitivity and overreaction to errors and missteps. I don’t recall anyone being chastized (corrected, perhaps, but not chastized) for typos or errors of knowledge. But there have been overblown reactions when regulars overstep the bounds, either by intention or omission.

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Posted: 26 August 2010 01:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I think Eliza and I may be talking about different phenomena. I’m talking about cases where people have been too quick to assume malice or insult and then things escalate from there.
Bluntness and a cutting tone for me are not a problem.

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Posted: 26 August 2010 02:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I agree with aldi.

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Posted: 26 August 2010 06:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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languagehat - 26 August 2010 02:22 PM

I agree with aldi.

I know for a fact that RebWlm is no longer on here because of the tone of some of the responses he received to his queries and reponses.  I wonder about David Adams (DMA of days of old). He has not said so explicitly, but my invitations to him to return have been ignored.  There are serveral old-timers who are no longer with us.  Probably for a variety of reasons.

There is a sharpness here that makes us--of lesser learning--hesitate greatly before posting anything of any real substance here. Can we ask silly questions?  Of course.  Can we respond with duly labelled WAGs? Of course. Can we repeat a question we asked 3 years ago?  Of course.  But make a substantial contribution and it’s wrong--watch out. 

Those of us without special training are inhibited (perhaps self-inhibited, I’m willing to admit) from posting anything more than “yeah, in our area, we say it this way.” Or “Our spelling/pronunciation is more like this or that.” Or “in Leftpondia we say lend-lease” or “in Rightpondia we say lease-lend.” Such contributions receive no opprobrium of any kind. But offer “evidence” from the OED or other commonly available source and you have it wrong, don the Hazmat suit.

I’ve had many good teachers over the course of my educated life and the best of them would use a technique that affirms the contribution while gently moving the contributor to understand the weakness of that response, or the strength of its alternative.

Part of the problem, certainly, may surely be the one-dimensional character of this medium.  This has always been the problem with the internet and maybe the telegraph before it. So we all have to compensate for these limitations.

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Posted: 26 August 2010 10:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I agree with everything oecolampadius has just said.

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Posted: 27 August 2010 01:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I second what oecolampadius said. Okay, I third it.

I remember an English teacher from my first year in high school (a non-native speaker, but still very good) who managed to stimulate his pupils even when they were giving wrong answers. I remember one occasion when we were asked what ‘vinegar’ could mean (mind you, this was when I was about twelve). I suggested it meant ‘assorted wines’. He didn’t put me straight for coming up with such a stupid answer nor did he lecture me on how we shouldn’t let similarity between words fool us and make fools of us. In stead he complimented me on my insight and gave us an explanation on the relation between wine, vin and vinegar. I found that highly inspiring. I am aware I’m not twelve anymore, but my point is that I don’t think that man would feel at home here right now.

For the record I must add that my resentment doesn’t just come from things I might have taken personally. It is the tone of the reactions to certain posts that annoyed me. But I understand the limitations of the medium we are using and I intend to “water down the wine” as we say and take things more lightly. I hope that some of the ‘experts’ here will do the same.

[ Edited: 27 August 2010 02:41 AM by Dutchtoo ]
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