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Re: Traditional-Modern Japanese Views

Postby keatonatron » Wed 03.18.2009 2:34 am

Stone_Cold wrote:Sentence structure has nothing to do with an individual’s general intelligence.


I'd have to disagree with this statement. I think it's a pretty common understanding that intelligence is DIRECTLY related to proper speaking and writing abilities.

Heck, when people think they are just talking in their heads without transforming it into sound... if you can't speak correctly, how can you think correctly? :D
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Re: Traditional-Modern Japanese Views

Postby furrykef » Wed 03.18.2009 6:32 am

keatonatron wrote:I think it's a pretty common understanding that intelligence is DIRECTLY related to proper speaking and writing abilities.


Not necessarily. There are plenty of very intelligent people who have spelling problems, for instance. The late, great scientist Richard Feynman, by his own admission, simply did not care about spelling, and even typically spelled the name of his first wife (whom he loved deeply) as "Arlene" instead of the correct spelling "Arline".

People tend to be more fussy about grammar, though. Punctuation doesn't seem to bother them so much (I see commas abused so horribly on sites such as Wikipedia that it makes me cry inside), and there are a few issues like "less" vs. "fewer" that really only bug pedants, but mangled syntax is difficult to understand and is often the target of derision. I can still easily imagine an otherwise very intelligent person having trouble expressing his thoughts clearly, though, in the vein of Feynman's spelling problems.

Incidentally, as a person has generally been regarded as "intelligent" throughout his life (whether I have any common sense is another matter), I can say that intelligence is overrated. People assume that high intelligence is good and low intelligence is bad. To me, that's like saying being tall is good and being short is bad. Yes, being intelligent is often advantageous, just like being tall is, but it has its disadvantages and it's certainly not everything. Now, stupidity is a different matter entirely. I can't stand stupidity. Intelligence has little to do with it: you can easily be highly intelligent and still be stupid. Picture the late Bobby Fischer: the world's most brilliant chess player, but also a hopelessly paranoid anti-Semite. See? Intelligent, but stupid.

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Re: Traditional-Modern Japanese Views

Postby keatonatron » Wed 03.18.2009 10:48 am

furrykef wrote:Not necessarily. There are plenty of very intelligent people who have spelling problems, for instance.


Please note that the original statement in question was about "sentence structure", not spelling. (Although I assume the author of that statement was actually referring to the write/right mix-up, I will take their statement as-is) :D I know many dyslexic people are very smart, but I don't think I've ever met an intelligent person who can't structure sentences :?

I've often noticed that smart people are able to recognize those who are not as smart as themselves, but stupid (er, "not smart") people generally don't know that they are stupid (or at least don't have the ability to tell when others are smarter than them).

Maybe it's the same in regard to the importance of intelligence; smart people think it's important to be smart, while stupid people think there's nothing great about being smart :wink:
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Re: Traditional-Modern Japanese Views

Postby astaroth » Wed 03.18.2009 12:18 pm

furrykef wrote:The late, great scientist Richard Feynman, by his own admission

I'd say physicist as Feynman was hardly a scientist (I'm a physicist myself).
On Feynman there are more stories than stars in the skies or jets at LHC (if they'll ever turn it on). He also loved to make stories up.
furrykef wrote:Feynman, by his own admission, simply did not care about spelling

I read a couple of articles by Feynman, and -- trust me on this -- he was very careful in spelling and sentence structure where it matters, that is articles and papers. Maybe he was sloppy in personal letters, or maybe he simply liked Arlene more than Arline (or was it the other way around?).
keatonatron wrote:I've often noticed that smart people are able to recognize those who are not as smart as themselves,

I tend to call those who recognize who's not smart as not smart stupid. If one were smart enough for that, they should use their intelligence at better works. I tend to believe that those who are really smart usually don't care about other people's mistakes, but would make a storm in a glass of water for their own mistakes. "Try one's best" is usually more appropriate to smart people than to not-so-smart ones, as the latter will prefer not to aim high.

furrykef wrote:"less" vs. "fewer"

I never remember the difference, so I'd be happy if anyone wanted to clarify it for me ...
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Re: Traditional-Modern Japanese Views

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Wed 03.18.2009 1:04 pm

astaroth wrote:
furrykef wrote:"less" vs. "fewer"

I never remember the difference, so I'd be happy if anyone wanted to clarify it for me ...


The traditional rule is that "less" is used with mass nouns and "fewer" with count nouns. That's a pretty good rule to go by, if you want a rule (particularly if you are a non-native speaker). However, this rule has never reflected actual English usage at any time, so many "violations" can be found not only in common speech, but in formal writing, historical and modern. It is true that "fewer" is only used with count nouns, but "less" is used both with mass and count nouns.

The problem is that the distinction between a mass noun and count noun, in this circumstance, is not as clear-cut as people would like to believe. This is especially true in measurements or totals when a number is specified -- i.e. distances, weights, etc. For instance, here's a quote from Jane Austen: "The estate at Winthrop is not less than two hundred and fifty acres..." It's true that "acres" is something that can be counted, but in this case the land is being considered as one mass noun. Same with this quote from Thomas Hardy: "In less than five months his term here would have ended..." Here, the period of time is being considered as one mass noun even though Hardy could have written "fewer than five months".

I think with times and measurements there's some uncertainty because you have to use "less" in some cases -- e.g. "Less than one hour" (you can't say "fewer than one hour") or "less than one mile". So since people say that, they naturally say "less than two hours" or "less than two miles" as well. People like to complain about the signs at express lanes in grocery stores saying "10 items or less", but once again, this can be seen as considering the items as a group and thus a single mass noun.

Now, when numbers are not involved the usage is more controversial and sounds wrong to a lot more people. For instance, "I have less books now than I used to." Some native speakers, even highly educated ones, will say this in casual speech. Once again, the books are being thought of as a single unit rather than as individually countable items. You can say "The amount of books I have now is less than it used to be", so there's no *conceptual* problem with taking the books as a unit. But this sort of example is more widely considered incorrect than the examples with numbers. Probably this usage should be avoided.

In short:
1) Do not use "fewer" with mass nouns, only with count nouns.
2) You're generally safe in using "less" with count nouns quantified by numbers, although some pedants will still complain.
3) You should probably stick with "fewer" when you're modifying a count noun alone.
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Re: Traditional-Modern Japanese Views

Postby astaroth » Wed 03.18.2009 3:54 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:In short:
1) Do not use "fewer" with mass nouns, only with count nouns.
2) You're generally safe in using "less" with count nouns quantified by numbers, although some pedants will still complain.
3) You should probably stick with "fewer" when you're modifying a count noun alone.

Thank, Chris.
I think I never said something like "I'll run fewer than 5 miles" ... but that being a run is more like a mass noun than a count noun, I think.
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Re: Traditional-Modern Japanese Views

Postby furrykef » Wed 03.18.2009 4:16 pm

furrykef wrote:Incidentally, as a person has generally been regarded as "intelligent" throughout his life


Oh, the irony. (Well, at least it'd be ironic if I weren't arguing that there isn't necessarily a correlation between intelligence and phrasing things properly.) Of course, I meant to say, "As a person who has..."

keatonatron wrote:Please note that the original statement in question was about "sentence structure", not spelling.


Well, yeah, but I was making an analogy. But consider, say, an intelligent person who seems incapable of using simple words and phrases to express simple concepts -- this is often a stereotype, but it has some basis in fact sometimes.

keatonatron wrote:I know many dyslexic people are very smart, but I don't think I've ever met an intelligent person who can't structure sentences :?


Well, I generally don't meet many people at all who can't structure sentences. Of course there are those people in online chatrooms who say "a/s/l wana fuk?", but those people aren't even trying.

astaroth wrote:I'd say physicist as Feynman was hardly a scientist (I'm a physicist myself).


I don't really get how you can be a physicist and not a scientist, unless perhaps you conduct physics experiments in a nonscientific fashion, which I don't think Feynman did. It would seem to me that, if you conduct scientific experiments, you're a scientist. I consider even myself a scientist in a very broad sense of the word (but, of course, I don't go around claiming I'm a scientist without explaining what I really mean by it).

astaroth wrote:He also loved to make stories up.


I've heard this a lot, but I've yet to see any proof (despite this claim being made by Murray Gell-Mann, one of Feynman's colleagues). 'Course, I often don't see proof that Feynman's stories are true, either. But I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt.

astaroth wrote:I read a couple of articles by Feynman, and -- trust me on this -- he was very careful in spelling and sentence structure where it matters, that is articles and papers.


Well, the articles could have been edited before being published. Moreover, he was probably aware that it's necessary to pay attention to spelling and grammar when writing for a serious publication.

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Re: Traditional-Modern Japanese Views

Postby astaroth » Wed 03.18.2009 4:28 pm

furrykef wrote:I don't really get how you can be a physicist and not a scientist, unless perhaps you conduct physics experiments in a nonscientific fashion, which I don't think Feynman did.

Well. Feynman didn't do any experiments in all of his life, since he was a theorist ... but anyway (we, theorists especially in high energy, are pretty picky about that :) ).
If you call scientist whoever follows the scientific method, I think Feynman might have been a scientist too.
When I was saying Feynman wasn't a scientist I meant that his work was entirely within Physics, so he was a physicist, that is a specialized scientist. But this is truly only my definition ...
furrykef wrote:Well, the articles could have been edited before being published. Moreover, he was probably aware that it's necessary to pay attention to spelling and grammar when writing for a serious publication.

Actually there is basically no editing in published scientific articles. Grammar and spelling are so many times stabbed in the heart :(
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Re: Traditional-Modern Japanese Views

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Wed 03.18.2009 4:33 pm

It depends on exactly what is being talked about here. Obeying prescriptive grammar rules has very little to do with your intelligence, although it can certainly affect people's *perception* of your intelligence. It's unfortunate that the belief is so widespread that use of dialectical English is an indicator of substandard intelligence or a lack of education.

The ability to write and speak well, though, can be one indicator of someone's intelligence because being able to write and speak well is more than just avoiding prescriptive pet peeves and using standard English. You can have a piece of writing that has perfect spelling and conforms punctiliously to the usage guides' advice -- but it can still be lifeless and uninteresting. On the other hand, dialectical English can be used to create good writing as well (just look at things like Huckleberry Finn, for instance). Although, good writing is certainly not a factor solely of "intelligence", whatever that word means.
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Re: Traditional-Modern Japanese Views

Postby Stone_Cold » Wed 03.18.2009 8:12 pm

Page two... lol :-P
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Re: Traditional-Modern Japanese Views

Postby Sairana » Thu 03.19.2009 1:09 am

On the other hand, dialectical English can be used to create good writing as well (just look at things like Huckleberry Finn, for instance)

That brings up an interesting, yet chilling idea. How long before the first serious novel written in internet shorthand (aka text-speak) is published? "R.L. Stein: Ph34r teh Babysitters bff Jill"?

Yudan Taiteki wrote:"intelligence", whatever that word means.


Intelligence is 90% effort. ^_^ You can make up the rest.
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Re: Traditional-Modern Japanese Views

Postby monkeykoder » Sat 04.04.2009 5:23 pm

Sairana wrote:Intelligence is 90% effort. ^_^ You can make up the rest.


Intelligence is an interesting one I would have to disagree and say 90% of USEFUL intelligence is effort. I'm one of those "intelligent" people that put forth no effort. By the end of summer I should have my BA in Math having put forth a minimum of effort (I did show up to class you know) but none of that is useful until I actually get off my butt and do something with it.
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Re: Traditional-Modern Japanese Views

Postby two_heads_talking » Mon 04.06.2009 9:10 am

I think this thread has drifted out of the Traditional-Modern japanese Views, into who's more intelligent, and if intelligence is related to thread drift, you guys are genious'.
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