1. flipflop
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    flipflop Senior Member

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    Suggestions for THE ORACLE

    Discussion in 'Support & Feedback' started by flipflop, Jul 4, 2011.

    this thread is basicly here to find out what people would like to see in the oracle

    the oracle is basically a one stop place for all the good advice that in the general concensus is considered a need to know for all aspiring and published writers

    so the two main questions are :

    what do you think should be in the oracle (suggestions for single article or whole subjects allowed please state which)

    how would you like this displayed

    have fun:)
     
  2. Alex W
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    Alex W Contributing Member

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    Less capitals in the title.

    There. I feel as though I have been invaluable to this process.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    actually, to be grammatically correct, alex, it should be 'fewer capitals' not 'less'... ;-)
     
  4. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Less" has been a synonym for "fewer" for pretty much as long as English has been English. Some people have tried to create and impose a distinction that was never there. Fortunately they don't seem to be succeeding. :D
     
  5. Alex W
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    Alex W Contributing Member

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    Well........I believe we call this victory.

    Drinks all around! Except for mammamaia....... ;)
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Maia is correct. Less is for noncountable quantities, fewer for countable (integer) ones. It's a distinction often lost in casual speech and writing, but it is real nevertheless.
     
  7. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    But it's a recent invention which hasn't fully taken root. That's why it's "often lost in casual speech and writing" -- not that people are lax about the rule but because the rule has never penetrated there; people don't care about it: it has no jurisdiction. There are those who wish it were a secure rule, though, and if such a person is your customer it would be well to adhere to it.
     
  8. Alex W
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    Alex W Contributing Member

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    In speech the words are spoken as such, and I write here as though I am speaking, and so 'less capitals' works well enough.

    I could indeed say fewer, but less is no less correct than the other.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    poor grammar is still poor grammar...
     
  10. Alex W
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    Alex W Contributing Member

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    I do believe that in speech it is not 'poor grammar', it is how almost everyone who I know speaks. I myself always say 'less' instead of 'fewer', and considering I am writing as if I am speaking, I would say that it is fine :cool:
     
  11. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the clarification between words like "less" and "fewer" and their appropriate uses should be included in The Oracle.
     
  12. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I agree. I'd also include speculation on the ancestry/parentage of those who use "less" inappropriately.
     
  13. Alex W
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    Alex W Contributing Member

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    I must confess, I didn't realise how far my word choice would spiral out of control in this thread.

    is this representative of the forum? Or should I resort to smileys for now on less I be lambasted for my regular use of the term 'lol'?

    ;) :D
     
  14. flipflop
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    flipflop Senior Member

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    I shall write a blog on this soon and include it in the oracle :D
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    hey, guys/gals... let's have less contention and fewer personal attacks, ok?
     
  16. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    True, but "less" as a synonym for "fewer" never has been poor grammar. At most it's only ever been a stylistic preference. Even that arch-prescriptivist, Fowler, admitted that it wasn't a rule, but he wished it were. When Shakespeare wrote "thou wilt quarrel with a man that hath a hair more or a hair less in his beard than thou hast." (instead of "a hair more or a hair fewer in his beard") he wasn't being careless. It has been taught as a rule by those who either didn't know better or who sought to impose their preferences, but as I said it has never properly taken root as a rule.
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'm sorry, digitg, but it is a usage rule. Is Oxford Dictionaries authoritative enough? If not, it is not hard to find other respected reference sources.
     
  18. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't dispute that some authorities consider it a rule. But other authorities consider it not to be a rule. I've already quoted Fowler who says that it's not a rule (but he wished it were). The complete Oxford English Dictionary says that some (but by implication not all) consider it not to be a rule. So it seems that it's only a rule if you think it's a rule.
     
  19. Alex W
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    Alex W Contributing Member

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    Did I ever mention that I like you? :rolleyes: :D

    I write as I speak when i'm on forums, and in speech the term is correct. God knows how we got onto a discussion about it, but shall we leave it? There's only so many hours in the day and to discuss something so pedantic seems a waste of precious minutes :cool:

    So that's that. I do however pronounce my team the winner. And by team I mean digtig. Huzzah for us.

    And I did not notice any personal insults, the only slight insult apparent was you calling my speech 'poor grammar' but lets be honest, if I were to be even the slightest bit insulted by such a comment I would need a good slap in the face for being so pathetic.

    So all's well over here :)
     
  20. garmar69
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    garmar69 Contributing Member Contributor

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    My WordWeb program said this about "fewer".

    Sometimes confused with: less.

    And less.

    Sometimes confused with: fewer.

    :D
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It is also covered in Paul Brian's Common Errors in English. Do I also have to find references in Strunk and White and the Chicago Manual of Style, too? I hav e no doubt it is covered in both of those established writing handbooks as well.

    The distinction between them is not a Johnny-come-lately issue, either, as digitg has asserted. It would be more accurate to say that knowledge of usage has slipped so far in recent years that most people don't recognize an example of incorrect grammar when they hear it.
     
  22. Alex W
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    Alex W Contributing Member

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    Or perhaps it is a regional difference?

    I don't think I really ever hear the word 'fewer' in general conversation, much more often it is 'less'. I would not call it correct, merely that perhaps language is changing in atleast speech patterns and 'less' is taking on the role of the word 'fewer' with many people.

    Don't get me wrong, in news reports etc then the word fewer is always used, but in general conversation? It's the word 'less'. And this includes an English professer I know.

    'More speed less haste' is a pretty famous use of the word in such an instance, seems to fit well enough.
     
  23. Jayyy1014
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    Jayyy1014 Jerrica Contributor

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    Hey guys, why are we fighting over Less and Fewer, in a thread about what to put in a oracle. It's not really helping the person who wanted to know this and it's off topic. I'm sorry If I offend anyone in anyway. But, Since everyone is speaking their opinion about less and fewer. I decided I would too.
     
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  24. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, it is off topic, and I apologize for my part in the thread hijack. Certainly the point was made that matters such as this - whether usage rules mean anything - have a place in the proposed Oracle has been made, and is a good one.

    The problem is that, as we have seen here, just about any topic worth covering in such a thread will become a protracted discussion. Instead of a concise reference, THE ORACLE would become a single-thread equivalent of the entire Writing Issues forum group.
     
  25. flipflop
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    flipflop Senior Member

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    Im not so sure. Articles like the ones in your signiture are prime examples of good solid advice with a balanced view on whether to apply these rules.They would certainly make the oracle. Other articles of this calibre would be good.

    A few of your standard cut and paste answers also would make the oracle. I think the main point is that it is not easy to find these things out if we are not looking for them the oracle would be a one stop resource of links to all this good advice. It could cover all aspects of writing, forum rules, how tos and other tips and tricks.
     

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