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The Need for Cursive Writing
Posted: 30 December 2012 04:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Does anyone doubt this:  The regulars of this site, with very little prodding, would admit that they consider their relationship to language as comparable to Baron Philippe de Rothschild’s to some randomly selected pinot noir of hidden vintage from his private cellar brought to him by his personal sommelier; and just as the Baron sniffed, sipped, aerated, and swirled the specimen on his palate and tried to decide if it was from that splendid 1927 vintage or one from the slightly disappointing 1932 harvest, they, supposedly similarly, “taste” their words, making the most discriminating of assessments--while they regard the typical bloke’s relationship to language as more like the town drunk’s to the Thunderbird he guzzles from the bottle (and dribbles on his shirt in the process).  That’s their comforting delusion.

But here’s the reality:  Every regular who’s expressed himself or herself above, feels Richard and I are one.  You language connoisseurs, who fancy that you are capable of discerning every barely articulable nuance of a word, every connotation so subtle that it almost slips into a synapse and disappears before your supple neurons can process it---you lords of the language, in actual fact, can’t detect the striking stylistic and even more glaring philosophical differences between Richard and me that should have been apparent from about the third syllable of Richard’s first post.

Are all you regulars so monumentally lacking in analytical skills that you don’t recognize that Richard’s point of view is directly antithetical to mine?  MY only concern is preservation of a common meaning between speaker and listener---haven’t you grasped that I regard any serious time devoted by schools and scolds to the mechanics of spelling, punctuation, grammar, and, the current focus of attention, cursive writing, as a prosecutable misallocation of resources?

Of course, in the debate that I sought of that very narrowly limited prescriptivism of mine, Enlightened Prescriptivism as I called it, I would have laid out and defended those propositions, and something genuinely stimulating and provocative might have happened on this site for the first time in years (my examination of previous threads strongly indicates), but that debate didn’t take place because all parties on the other side lacked the intellectual curiosity, the skill, or the confidence in their forensic abilities to engage.  (By the way, Dave, in order to avoid justified accusations of misrepresentation, you ought to delete from your description of the General Discussion section the phrase “discussions about the English language writ large”.  The pomposity of that claimed interest versus the pitifully petty nature of this site’s actual interests only invites derision.)

In concluding that Richard and I were the same person, all that you regulars could see was that Richard and I both expressed views in opposition to the establishment (i.e. this site’s regulars). That effort at analysis evidently left you too mentally exhausted to penetrate any more deeply.  I imagine you all must consider Thomas Paine and Karl Marx as indistinguishable too.

Richard, though you and I disagree fundamentally on the language issue, I respect and applaud your willingness to confront the smug, posing mandarins of this site.  May I suggest that the only way you might extract anything worthwhile from the encounter is by viewing the site’s regulars as I did-- as laboratory specimens, just so many frogs to be dissected amid the acrid reek of formaldehyde, as you investigate how the oligarchs of a group seek to maintain power by instantly mocking and excluding any “intruder” who threatens to make himself conspicuous and, God forbid, even briefly overshadow them.  That, I think, more than any of the reasons I cited two paragraphs ago, explains their behavior.

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Posted: 30 December 2012 05:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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You simply cannot hold more than two to four seconds worth of spoken speech in your brain.

I don’t think I understand this. Can you expand on what it means in practice?

The human brain is capable of holding and manipulating 2-4 seconds of speech in your brain before speaking or setting them down in writing. Speech and first draft writing is typically parataxis, a series of short, independent clauses. Complex sentences with subordination are created during revision.

We can memorize longer sequences, but we can’t manipulate them and grammatically restructure them except in short chunks. And in fact, when we memorize lengthy passages we memorize them in discreet chunks. We can’t suddenly start reciting from the middle of the passage, but have to start from the beginning of a chunk. (Most people learn the alphabet in such chunks, for example. Try to start reciting the alphabet starting with O and you’ll probably have to start with L and silently recite until you hit O.)

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Posted: 31 December 2012 12:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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To Mr.Wilton:

I appreciate your response, but I appreciate even more your lack of condescension and sarcasm that your readers expressed in their postings.  By the way, in my initial posting I erred in the last paragraph by naming Ms.Avery rather than you, for you were the one who referred to an ideal world; my apologies.
Keep in mind that anything that I cite to support my argument, regardless of its accreditation, is nevertheless an opinion, as is anything that you cite.  Unfortunately in today’s world all opinions are treated as equal regardless of their lack of sensibility or logic.

First, regarding vocabulary: the empirical evidence is based on my personal experience with university students, many with high academic achievements, but with vocabularies consisting mainly of monosyllabic unchallenging words. My conversations with young adults and students established my position that there is a language deficiency in general.  SAT scores are another indication, but you seem to think that they remain unchanged, but I disagree. Those drops in vocabulary have been documented and discussed over the past decades. Why would those reports be false? What would be the motivation?
I also have read numerous opinion pieces concerning the decline in verbal skills, but I definitely lend credence to them whereas you don’t, that’s you’re prerogative. When there is an indication that something is wrong or bad, usually the indication is correct.

David Orr wrote an article, Verbicide, specifically addressing the inferior language skills of young adults. I submit a paragraph from his opinion piece. You can read the entire piece on Oberlin Online.

He is no aberration, but an example of a larger problem, not of illiteracy but of diminished literacy in a culture that often sees little reason to use words carefully, however abundantly. Increasingly, student papers from otherwise very good students have whole paragraphs that sound like advertising copy. Whether students are talking or writing, a growing number have a tenuous grasp on a declining vocabulary. Excise “uh . . .like . . .uh” from most teenage conversations, and the effect is like sticking a pin into a balloon

“...the amount of total reading (not just books) has skyrocketed with the advent of computers…” I don’t know how accurate your statement is but it does not refer to deep reading. Young people read in a desultory fashion grasping for information but not wisdom. They’re not reading Dostoevsky or Joyce on their computers. Your example is misleading, because it does not refer to the more relevant reading that young people should engage in.  I submit another paragraph from Mark Bauerlein who supports my position:

They have grooved texting habits, writing in short bursts in a teen idiom.  When it comes time to adjust and compose a paragraph for a college paper, the bad habits linger. That’s why I spend so much time in freshman composition working with students on style, diction, and syntax.  We have to get down to the very basics and make them break their social writing habits.

Read more: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/life-stories/2012/sep/12/mark-baurelein-author-dumbest-generation-why-youth/#ixzz2GbbZmvqz
Follow us: @wtcommunities on Twitter

I never claimed that cursive writing improves verbal capabilities. I do believe, however, that it stimulates the brain in a different manner than typing on a keyboard; therefore, I think it’s essential to cultivate, just for the sake of preservation should one day all the computers in the world go on the blink.
Respectfully, everything I’ve submitted refutes your argument, but more significantly substantiates my position a position that has no ulterior motives.

David Crystal takes a rather descriptive approach to language and grammar, as do the majority of linguists, and as much as I respect his status I don’t agree with his opinion on texting. Mark Bauerlein the author of the The dumbest Generation seems to counter his position as does David Mulroy and many more with similar credentials.

Unfortunately we’re dealing with opinions not facts, but I do believe that certain opinions with solid foundations can be defined, although in a nebulous reference, as facts. Therefore, I firmly believe that the written and spoken language is in decline. I think that there is far more corroborating evidence to substantiate my claim than there is to support yours. Keep in mind though that this argument can deviate to what constitutes word deterioration.  I think that in a debate the party with more ammunition and logical sense to support their position should prevail, but this will never happen, because too many people are in denial or have undeterred agendas.

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Posted: 31 December 2012 01:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Good grief! Is it the time of year or something?

[ Edited: 31 December 2012 03:15 AM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 31 December 2012 01:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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I was wrong.

There’s two of ‘em.

.

[ Edited: 31 December 2012 01:58 AM by sobiest ]
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Posted: 31 December 2012 01:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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The breeding season is early.  I blame climate change.

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Posted: 31 December 2012 02:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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What site are you using to get those lovely graphs, sobiest? Could come in useful.

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Posted: 31 December 2012 03:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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It’s stand-alone software, called Signature, a program “...designed to facilitate “stylometric” analysis and comparison of texts, with a particular emphasis on author identification.”

It’s freeware for educational use, available here.

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Posted: 31 December 2012 03:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Richard - 31 December 2012 12:05 AM

I also have read numerous opinion pieces concerning the decline in verbal skills, but I definitely lend credence to them whereas you don’t, that’s you’re prerogative. When there is an indication that something is wrong
or bad, usually the indication is correct.

The first sentence contains a splice comma and a grammatical howler, which is the sort of thing I normally wouldn’t point out – unless the writer, as here, is pontificating about correct and incorrect writing.
One might compare graviton’s use of ‘drunk’s’ for ‘drunks’. Muphry’s Law and all that.

The second sentence seems unsupported by logic.

[ Edited: 31 December 2012 03:09 AM by kurwamac ]
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Posted: 31 December 2012 04:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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sobiest - 31 December 2012 03:01 AM

It’s stand-alone software, called Signature, a program “...designed to facilitate “stylometric” analysis and comparison of texts, with a particular emphasis on author identification.”

It’s freeware for educational use, available here.

This looks like a Windows program.  Is it available for other OSs?

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Posted: 31 December 2012 04:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Considering the small sample size are these differences significant?  Try comparing richard and graviton’s odd posts with their even posts and see if you come up with similar curves.

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Posted: 31 December 2012 05:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Faldage - 31 December 2012 04:33 AM

sobiest - 31 December 2012 03:01 AM
It’s stand-alone software, called Signature, a program “...designed to facilitate “stylometric” analysis and comparison of texts, with a particular emphasis on author identification.”

It’s freeware for educational use, available here.

This looks like a Windows program.  Is it available for other OSs?

I ran it in linux under wine--it’s a little cantankerous, but it works.

Considering the small sample size are these differences significant?

I ran chi-squared tests (Signature has several options).

I also ran comparisons with other, similarly-sized datasets, including one using a corpus from another wordorigins contributer.

Admittedly, this is all far from definitive, but it satisfied my curiosity enough to revise my earlier opinion.

YMMV

.

[ Edited: 31 December 2012 05:42 AM by sobiest ]
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Posted: 31 December 2012 06:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Keep in mind that anything that I cite to support my argument, regardless of its accreditation, is nevertheless an opinion, as is anything that you cite.  Unfortunately in today’s world all opinions are treated as equal regardless of their lack of sensibility or logic.

No, what am I asking for is data, not opinion. What evidence do you have to support your claim. (Note, I am not making any claims. simply trying to verify claims made by others.)

First, regarding vocabulary: the empirical evidence is based on my personal experience with university students, many with high academic achievements, but with vocabularies consisting mainly of monosyllabic unchallenging words.

Personal anecdotes are not “empirical evidence.” As the saying goes, “the plural of anecdote is not data.” The problem with personal anecdotes is that they can easily be skewed by things like confirmation bias. For example, my experience with first and second year students at one of the better universities in Canada is very different. Their verbal skills are excellent. Aside from a few English-as-a-second-language students, severe problems with grammar and writing are rare. Yes, they need to be taught how to write in the appropriate register for academic discourse, but that’s what I’m there for.

The same thing goes with all the newspaper articles about the “decline” in verbal ability. They rarely, if ever, present data to support the claims being made. The aspect of the Avery piece, and the one accompanying it, was that they were entirely devoid of evidence. I expect better of educators.

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Posted: 01 January 2013 12:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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To Kurwamac:

It’s interesting how all of you trepid subscribers of Wordorigins agree with Mr.Wilton’s opinion, but ridicule mine. Like sheep in a pasture, follow the leader but heed the dog, quite pathetic.

Regarding grammar, it’s referred to as a comma splice not splice comma. Had you written spliced comma that would have been better.

One can use commas to set off nonessential clauses.  Some verb tense shifts are also appropriate.

My second sentence, which you did not comprehend, is just a different version from the idiomatic expression, where there’s smoke there’s a fire. I think it’s somewhat logical.

Regardless, I’m not writing a thesis, nor have I pontificated on grammar, language or writing.  I merely submitted an opinion on cursive writing; an opinion that you obviously don’t agree with.  You take the rather timorous and puerile approach by trolling my posts and pointing out my comma splices. I’m impressed.

Why don’t you crawl out of your little shell of insecurity and submit an opinion rather than nip at the heels like a cowardly puppy.

This neither is a defensive posting, as you might think, nor is it directed solely at you.  It is directed at all of you plebeian conformists who find that prescriptivism is anathema to your conventional mindset.

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Posted: 01 January 2013 03:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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I like spliced comma.

But.

That’s just me. 

Nor have I pontificated on grammar, language or writing!!!!!!!!!!

Wait.

[ Edited: 01 January 2013 03:38 AM by sobiest ]
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