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Comment: Self-fulfilling prophecies (Score 4, Interesting) 186

by Andy_R (#49486577) Attached to: How Many Hoaxes Are On Wikipedia? No One Knows

The Coati (a small member of the raccoon family native to Brazil) is also known as the Brazillian aardvark. The reason that it's known as the Brazillian aadvark is that someone made the phrase up and added it to Wikipedia - but the coinage gained traction, because journalists copied it, and this led to a citation for that name being added to the article. Now wikipedia is in a quandary... there are, thanks to lazy journalists, people who know the coati as the Brazillian aardvark, because they read that in a newspaper... so is the hoax now true?

Does it become true if the dord of references to that name reaches a certain level?
Does it become false even though people do use the term, just because the etymology of the word was a hoax?

Comment: Neither side wants to win (Score 1) 155

by Andy_R (#49378865) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Who's Going To Win the Malware Arms Race?

Virus and antivirus suppliers have a symbiotic business relationship, each requires the other to continually make slow progress, rendering their old product useless, so they can sell their new product. If either side 'won', then they would cease being able to sell upgrades, their business model requires then not to win.

Comment: Re:There might not be Proper English (Score 1) 667

by Andy_R (#49267005) Attached to: Why There Is No Such Thing as 'Proper English'

While English in the British Isles used to have mutually incomprehensible dialects, the influence of received pronunciation has drastically lessened this, so I'd argue that it is coalescing.

Most people I know who have strong regional accents have the ability to switch to a neutral accent and cut out dialect words when they are in formal situations - an ability my father's generation learned from radio, my generation learned from radio and television, and my children's generation will learn from radio, television and internet. If you ask a Hebridean Scot to give a transcript of two Cockneys talking in a pub, or vice versa, they will struggle, but if you arrange a conversation between a Hebridean Scot and a Cockney they will simply both 'talk like the people on the telly' and understand each other perfectly well.

English was able to fragment because in the past, you rarely had to communicate with people from far away (which is how we ended up with prominent Americans who can't even say their own names properly... yes, Jay-ZED, I'm looking at you!) The internet changes all this, we now have regular interactions with people worldwide, so speaking or writing in a mutually incomprehensible way has penalties.

Perhaps we should consider the benefits of formalising 'correct' English, lest we be doomed to forever be re-translating Wikipedia into 'current' English?

If I have not seen as far as others, it is because giants were standing on my shoulders. -- Hal Abelson

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