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The Movie and Book Writing Thread

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Renegade:

That's just one of my pet peeves.

-Renegade (August 25, 2014, 01:24 PM)
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@R - Out of curiosity....just how many of this pets do you have? It must be hundreds.  :P ;D ;)
-40hz (August 26, 2014, 06:17 AM)
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I see what you did their.
-Stephen66515 (August 26, 2014, 06:24 PM)
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All right now, you guys is just being mean.
-Stoic Joker (August 27, 2014, 06:17 AM)
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Hahaha! Those are all pretty good.

Now... time to drop the gears into grammar Nazi mode! ;)

@R - Out of curiosity....just how many of this pets do you have? It must be hundreds.  :P ;D ;)
-40hz (August 26, 2014, 06:17 AM)
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"It" in that case refers to "pets", so there is no number agreement there.

However, there is a case to be made for "It must be hundreds."

"Take the expression '10<5' for example. This is false because 10 is greater than 5."

The grammar there is fine. '10' is taken to be 'a number', which is singular. This happens quite often in English, and in other contexts as well.

All right now, you guys is just being mean.
-Stoic Joker (August 27, 2014, 06:17 AM)
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This case is excluded from that class though as there is no ambiguity about number with 'guys'. (I'll get back to this below.)

However, there is a class of subjects where number can be assigned more or less freely as the speaker wishes. For example:

"Intel is/are introducing a new class of processor next week."

DC'ers from North America are more likely to choose "is", while those in the UK are more likely to choose "are".

The question is about whether "Intel" is an organisation that requires singular verb agreement for number, or is a collective that requires a plural form.

If you look into the issue, you will find little agreement on it from those that adhere to prescriptive grammatical rules (as opposed to normative). For prescriptive grammar, the debate is about whether or not collectives are to be treated as plurals or not, and whether or not number penetrates through qualified singular nouns. For example,

The class of students is waiting. vs. The class of students are waiting.

Compare that to:

The class is waiting.

You would never say:

The class are waiting.

Because you reserve the use of "are" there for:

The classes are waiting.

The ambiguity arises when "class" is qualified as a collective by "of students".

You can ask that question like so:

Which is the correct underlining for the subject in the following sentence (<to be> is left in the infinitive):

1. The class of students <to be> waiting.
2. The class of students <to be> waiting.

In #2, <to be> is clearly "is". In #1, there is a degree of ambiguity that leaves the speaker to decide on whether or not the subject should be treated as singular or a collective, and whether or not to treat collectives as plural, as is done in British English very often.

Getting back to the "guys" example, there is no ambiguity for number there. This is similar to the case:

"There are <plural>."

The dummy pronoun "there" (and others) takes its number from the object, which is understood to be the actual subject of the sentence. 

"Guys" is definite, while "there" is a dummy pronoun that can be either singular or plural. In both cases they have the same position as the subject of the sentence. However, "guys" is the subject proper, while for dummy pronouns, they are not the subject proper, but rather refer to it in the object position.

Another ambiguity arises for dummy pronouns when a plural object is a list of singular objects, e.g. "a cat, a dog, and a mouse". For example:

There is/are a cat, a dog, and a mouse in the house.

In this version:

There are a cat, a dog, and a mouse in the house.

The actual subject is clearly "a cat, a dog, and a mouse." (NOTE: The previous sentence sets up another case for number. I'm skipping it.)

However, in this version:

There is a cat, a dog, and a mouse in the house.

It makes sense to understand that as a shortened version of:

There is a cat (in the house), and there is a dog (in the house), and there is a mouse in the house.

That may seem counterintuitive for some, but consider the following case for number agreement:

There are 2 beers.

"Beers" is simply nonsensical. There is no such things as "beers"... until you understand that what is meant is:

There are 2 bottles of beer.

We truncate "bottles of beer" to "beers". (The same goes for 'glasses', etc., but not for 'cases' or 'kegs' or 'pitchers'.)

"Beer" itself is a liquid, which is non-countable. Bottles, on the other hand, are countable.

(I'm going to skip the case for "waters" as that issue diverges into other cases not related to number agreement.)



Blah... Time to get on to some work. :P





Stephen66515:
I can't believe I just read that at almost 6am...... :huh:

Vurbal:
If you look into the issue, you will find little agreement on it from those that adhere to prescriptive grammatical rules (as opposed to normative). For prescriptive grammar, the debate is about whether or not collectives are to be treated as plurals or not, and whether or not number penetrates through qualified singular nouns.
-Renegade (August 27, 2014, 09:23 PM)
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Here's the problem I see with your entire line of reasoning. The rules aren't for writers. They're for people who aren't writers, but need to write nonetheless. Writing is like music. It's something you need to feel to do it well. In fact what I usually tell people is the rules are for people who can't hear the music.

Don't get me wrong. Some people have fantastic stories to tell, but simply aren't writers. Tolkien is perhaps the most famous example. He was a horrible writer but had some wonderful (and other less than wonderful) stories. But everything he ever wrote pales by comparison to Shakespeare's work and Shakespeare broke every rule in the book and then made up more rules just so he could break those too.

Renegade:
If you look into the issue, you will find little agreement on it from those that adhere to prescriptive grammatical rules (as opposed to normative). For prescriptive grammar, the debate is about whether or not collectives are to be treated as plurals or not, and whether or not number penetrates through qualified singular nouns.
-Renegade (August 27, 2014, 09:23 PM)
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Here's the problem I see with your entire line of reasoning. The rules aren't for writers. They're for people who aren't writers, but need to write nonetheless. Writing is like music. It's something you need to feel to do it well. In fact what I usually tell people is the rules are for people who can't hear the music.
-Vurbal (August 28, 2014, 03:53 AM)
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I think that you've mistook what I was saying there. I wasn't trying to dictate rules for writers. You're right there - writers know the rules well enough that they can become creative with them for effect. Or perhaps in other words, mastering the rules frees you of them.

But you simply don't find good writers using bad or sloppy grammar like you would find in the comments sections of major news sites, Youtube, or Facebook.

Carrying on with the music metaphor, take the intro to Purple Haze and the dissonance in it. Dissonance is generally to be avoided, but Jimi simply makes it work. Masters get to break the rules, and we know that it was someone who has actually mastered the rules by how the end results are.

Incidentally, this would be an interesting question for AI.

Stephen66515:
Let's put this through the "Ren Test"  ;D

Here is a short section from a book I am writing, which I would love to get some opinions on :)


Really, there is no way he could have seen this coming.  Spending every day locked away in his own little world; friends all around, but loneliness so vivid.  Darkness was his companion, the light; his enemy.  Yet, somehow, through the mist, he saw something that made no sense, something he couldn't explain.  Words cannot describe the feeling that had come over him, and all he knew, was that something was changing...something strange, something wonderful, but also absolutely terrifying.  It took only a few moments for things to become clear, and he could see through the mist, he could feel the breeze.  Something whispered out to him, and he knew then, what he must do, to survive.

(New Chapter)

Things just didn't seem quite right, what with everything that was happening.  Days seemed short, the nights long, no matter what he said, there was nothing getting through, nothing had the power to break through the wall, and that left him with a heart so powerless, his soul fading like sheets blowing into the distance.  Hidden away, lost, and with an overwhelming loneliness thrust through his soul, he had no clue how to overcome the feelings of darkness that passed through him on a minute-by-minute basis.  Nothing seemed to help.  Life was slipping past him at an incredible rate, yet the world seemed to stay without motion, words resonating without echo, quickly evaporating into a hazy mist.

People move so quickly these days, but for reasons that are unknown, his feet are stuck in the quicksand he has created, lost in his own spirit, drowning in solitude, and with painful angst, he muttered slowly with every breath he could muster, hoping for some release, something to help him climb up from the bottom of this endless cliff, but that was a path he could not see.  It is amazing to think, that for a long time, these feelings where locked, like an ocean liner trapped in a bottle or a firefly lost in the sunset.

His mind twisted like branches around an old oak tree, trying to find resolve, desperate for an end, a way through, some meaning, some light, but nothing would go right, every turn was littered with voids.  He spent his days locked behind a glaring screen, sound coming through was muffled and empty, but it gave him a reason, a way forward, and a path on which to travel where he couldn't feel.  Every word he tried to say, came out backwards, and it was breaking him.

The sun was falling from the sky, causing shadows to leap and bounce along the building tops.  This was something he could enjoy, something that still felt right, which is why he got in the car so often at the end of the day, to find a spot to sit, somewhere to find solitude, even for a moment.  Sitting there, he could think clearly, so clearly.  He felt warm, and safe, while on his own, but nobody could understand.  The pain in his heart, was breaking him.  Simply staying here, in the place he was, and the situation he was in, was going to kill him, no other way I could put that, so much easier to be blunt about it, and there lies the problem...on several occasions, it almost did.

Skeletons littering his mind,  ghosts of the past screaming into his soul, he needed an opportunity to relinquish some of the pain he was feeling, yet, there was no way out.  No matter how much they spoke, their words fell before reaching the intended destination.  He screamed out, but to no avail, his heart twisting with every word, beating faster than the wings of a Hummingbird in a calm summers breeze.  Every ounce of his being was on fire, and yet, he was, actually, happy...once.

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