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Comment Re:Ugh (Score 1) 131

And each derived from context where it is ambiguous.

No, there's nothing ambiguous about it. The word you're searching in vain for is polysemy. Means that a word has multiple meanings. (Related to semantics, the study of meaning.) It's a common feature of words in many languages, particularly English. And there frequently is no "most common meaning". There's nothing ambiguous about, e.g., using "can" as a verb vs. a noun, because it's impossible to confuse them in context.

If you really think that "kills one in ten" is the most common meaning of "decimate", though, then it should be easy for you to find some examples of people using it in that sense. Real examples of real people using it that sense, not something you made up. I contend that it hasn't been used to mean that for at least a century. If you just google the word itself, you'll mostly get definitions and people discussing the word. I'm looking for examples of them using the word in what you seem to be claiming is the most common sense. I've checked Google books and Google news, and I can't find a single example. Just find me one, and I'll be impressed (though one example will hardly prove your point).

In this case, there's no ambiguity. It's just wrong. People type "alot" frequently and have no idea what "fewer" means.

Define "wrong". If it's wrong, why does it appear in every dictionary? Including the OED? (Even if they don't list it first, for whatever reason.) Dictionaries don't list things that are "just wrong". They don't list "alot", for example. So, why should I trust you, some random person on the Internet, over actual lexicographers and linguists, who all disagree with you?

(And "alot" is a spelling mistake, which is a whole different kettle of fish. Standardized spelling is much more recent than words having meaning. Words have had meanings for probably tens of thousands of years, if not more. Standardized spelling is only a couple of centuries old. There's a lot of reasons that spelling doesn't shift the way meanings do, but that's getting off topic, and it's really not my field. Bottom line: bad analogy.)

As for "fewer", pretty much everyone knows exactly what it means. The word that cause confusion is "less". Some idiots believe that because "fewer" is only used with countable nouns, that that means that "less" can only be used with non-countable nouns. That would make sense if the words were designed to complement each other, but they're weren't designed, and they're completely unrelated. Less is much older and has been used with both countable and uncountable nouns for over a thousand years. Claiming that it's "wrong" to say "10 items or less" is simple linguistic ignorance. Saying "10 items or fewer" is also acceptable, of course, but more stilted.

Any more dumb linguist superstitions you want to throw at me? No splitting infinitives? No ending sentences with prepositions?

Comment Re:Ugh (Score 1) 131

The Oxford Online Dictionary is made by the same people who make the OED. The main differences are that the online version is slightly more up-to-date, and has a slightly lower bar for including neologisms. (Those may migrate to the OED if they prove to have some staying power.)

They too go in order from the top down where there is no ambiguity.

What do you mean "in order?" In order of what? The meanings have to go in some order. The OED generally lists meanings in order by age. Other dictionaries frequently list more common meanings above more rare ones, but they're not particularly consistent about it. (Especially since that's a hard thing to measure, even with the modern technology that is revolutionizing the study of language.) And in no dictionary does listing a meaning second (or fifteenth) mean it's wrong.

If the newer meaning were "wrong", it wouldn't be listed at all. If it were colloquial, it would be listed as colloquial. If it were slang, it would be listed as slang. Ditto for nonstandard, dialect, archaic, etc. It's listed as none of those things, in any dictionary. That's because it's not only not wrong, it's perfectly standard.

Heck, if you look up "bit", you'll see a bunch of meanings. A small amount. A piece of metal that goes in a horse's mouth. The business end of a drill. A binary digit. Are all-but-the-first wrong there? Sheesh!

Comment Re:Ugh (Score 1) 131

So if I can change just one person's mind, it's one more point for our team.

Yuck. Certainly not my team. I will fight you on the beaches, I will fight you on the landing grounds. I will fight you on the fields and in the streets. I will fight you on the hills. I shall never surrender.

You think my hypothetical scenario is implausible? Try imagining if Kim Kardashian looked at a pink dress and said, on TV, that it was chartreuse. If you don't find that thought as sadly believable as it is chilling, well, I'm nothing but envious.

I think if that happened, social media would instantly be full of people mocking her, just as they mocked Jessica Simpson for the Chicken-of-the-Sea incident. And if social media didn't instantly fill up with mockery, I would say that that demonstrates that the current meaning of the word is not important enough to bother preserving (much like "terrific" or "decimate"—we survived the change in meaning of those terms just fine).

Frankly, I don't see much difference between someone who insists that decimate must mean one-in-ten, and someone who insists that chartreuse is pink. They're both idiots, they're both wrong, and they both have a minor potential to influence the language in possibly-unfortunate ways. Different types of idiots, admittedly, but both still idiots whose influence is mostly bad.

So yes, if you're honestly suggesting that decimate should still only mean kill-one-in-ten, then my respect for you is equal to my respect for Kim Kardashian.

Comment Re:Ugh (Score 1) 131

The OED lists its definitions in historical order. The Oxford Online Dictionary, by comparison, lists "kill, destroy, or remove a large percentage"as the first definition, and only has "kill one in ten" as the second definition. Which is marked as "historical". It also includes a usage note that says, "This sense has been superseded by the later, more general sense."


Collins Dictionary also has the one-in-ten meaning listed second: http://www.collinsdictionary.c...

As does dictionary.com: http://dictionary.reference.co...

Wiktionary lists the historical meaning first, but also presents evidence suggesting that this sense is basically never used any more, except when complaining about the change in meaning (at least in the British National Corpus): https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki...

Comment Re:Ugh (Score 1) 131

You're about 400 years too late on the "literally" thing, and much later than that on "decimate". If you're really concerned with nipping things in the bud, you might go for some more recent potential changes. Like singular "you" instead of "thou/thee", and maybe "terrific" for things that don't cause terror.

Simple fact: people don't like being misunderstood, so the circumstances under which your highly contrived chartreuse-means-pink example might arise are basically nonexistent!

Comment Re:Tell your friends OpenOffice is dead. Seriously (Score 1) 147

"'E's not dead! 'E's resting! You stunned him, just as he was wakin' up! Norwegian Blues stun easily, major." :)

As I said, "dead" is a mild exaggeration, but close enough that trying to explain the difference isn't worth it. "Lost their funding, lost most of their developers, haven't been able to release even a bug-fix for a major security hole, let alone an actual new release with new features, and only clinging to a vague semblance of life because a handful of folks got way too emotionally invested, and spent way too much time telling everyone that AOO was guaranteed to beat the pants off LO, and simply can't swallow enough pride to admit they were wrong, and it's over...but not actually dead," is just not as succinct.

I'll stick with my version, especially when talking to non-technical folks. :)

Comment Re:Still major bugs (Score 1) 147

I think I saw that problem addressed in the release notes for V5. In any case, you do realize you're complaining about something that MSO can't do at all, right? (Powerpoint is not part of MSO.) :)

Impress is definitely not LO's strong point, though. Most of the focus is still on Writer and Calc, and Calc has some big quirks that are going to require some restructuring. Nevertheless, the speed at which LO is improving is really astounding, compared to its predecessor. It's almost as if welcoming developers, and encouraging contributions, and spending time on code cleanup to avoid letting the technical debt get out of hand is more effective than trying to keep outside developers at arms length, and generally ignoring contributions unless (or even if) the developers are willing to jump through insane numbers of hoops, and generally just letting the code slowly rot.

It's not perfect yet, by any means, but it's a lot better than it was, and improving at an unprecedented rate.

Comment Tell your friends OpenOffice is dead. Seriously! (Score 4, Insightful) 147

Ok, we can argue all day about the relative merits of LO vs. MSO. That's nice and all, and I don't really care which one you prefer. That's up to you. But there's still something important we should be doing; even those of us who prefer MSO. Tell your friends that OpenOffice is dead, and they should look for LibreOffice instead!

OpenOffice is the name that people know. It's been around for years. And a lot of people have tried it and found it satisfactory. You'd be surprised. And a lot of these people don't know about LibreOffice. Some of them may even still be using OOo. (I had one friend-of-a-friend who had been puzzled by the lack of updates for the last several years, but had never bothered to investigate further.)

Now, claiming that OpenOffice is actually dead may be a mild exaggeration, but I think it's close enough to true to make it worth saying. The project seems to have lost most of its IBM support, which is really the only thing that gave it any hope, post-Oracle. It operated without a release manager for nearly a year, and recently lost its project lead. It's been being distributed with a known security vulnerability since April, and they haven't even been able to put together a point-fix release, let alone a full new release! That's an effectively-dead project.

Open Office is dead! Tell your friends to get LibreOffice instead, if they're interested in something like that!

Forget about whether you think LO is adequate or not. Forget about whether it fits your needs. Tell your friends that they should get LO instead of OO! If you're on social media, post something there. Let people know about LO. I think you'll be stunned to find how many of your not-so-geeky friends are quietly running AOO or even OOo, and really need to know that they should switch to LO!

Comment Re:Linux - forced updates?? (Score 1) 288

For me, it's been an optional update that fixes minor problems, and hasn't introduced any challenges. But I'm foolish enough to run boring-old Debian instead of whatever hot, new flavor of the month is out there. Debian made the glibc transition painless while the rest of the Linux world was screaming, and they seem to be doing the same with systemd.

Comment Re:Install Linux (Score 1) 288

Actually, I've been having that conversation more often recently, not because I think I should (I don't keep track of what goes on in the Windows world), but because people who know I run Linux have been approaching me. My advice remains the same:try switching to open source apps first (LibreOffice, etc.), and make sure you're comfortable with them before you even think about switching the main OS. A few people are so mad about Win10, though, that they've been insisting on more. So then I say, "get a live CD or thumbdrive system, and seriously, try it before you commit."

They're honestly stunned that I'm not trying to proselytize the system I use and persuade them all that they should convert immediately. But honestly, the ones who try it my way, and still end up deciding to switch tend to be a lot happier. As do the ones who end up not switching. It's a win all around!:)

Comment Re:Wait what? (Score 1) 262

Huh. It's not the templates that bother me; it's the bazillions of obscure macros you're expected to use to make sure that your code works on dozens of broken compilers I don't care about, and which come with 37 different definitions that all depend on the exact release of compiler you're using and it's almost impossible to figure out which one is actually in use, and half the time, if you're using a decent, up-to-date compiler, you can't even tell if you've got all the macros you need in the right places, because your compiler is too smart to even need those macros, so your code doesn't actually work right with other compilers that are supposedly supported by the libraries you're using.

The template stuff is relatively easy if you have a decent modern compiler.

What this country needs is a good five cent ANYTHING!