From: John Cowan (email@example.com)
Date: Wed May 21 2003 - 21:49:52 EDT
Kenneth Whistler scripsit:
> > The norms of written English are determined
> > exclusively by Hartree-Fock approximations.
> ...which is John Cowan's clever way of indicating that
> for English, every writer is influenced by every other
> writer, rather than following some predefined set of
Thanks for the recap for the physics-challenged.
Actually I was thinking of publishers and lexicographers specifically:
publishers follow what they believe to be the norms laid down by
dictionaries, whereas dictionaries report on the behaviors of those
same publishers, or their precedessors. For example, there is a general
tendency in English to move from open compound to hyphenated-compound to
closecompound, and dictionary makers count instances in published works
to see which form is dominant at the time. Publishers then look to the
dictionaries to see what form to use.
> Of course, the English atom is continually perturbed
> by all the other linguistic atoms, and there is no
> guarantee that a Hartree-Fock approximation would
> actually settle towards a norm -- the behavior might
> actually be chaotic. ...
But in fact it is not: the norms are tolerably well established in each
separate publisher/lexicographer community.
-- John Cowan www.ccil.org/~cowan www.reutershealth.com firstname.lastname@example.org "'My young friend, if you do not now, immediately and instantly, pull as hard as ever you can, it is my opinion that your acquaintance in the large-pattern leather ulster' (and by this he meant the Crocodile) 'will jerk you into yonder limpid stream before you can say Jack Robinson.'" --the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake
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