|I have five words of advice on language:|
Language changes--get over it.
That said, there are things I resist. For example:
On that last issue, Wikipedia notes:
- The redundancy of "tuna fish."
- Redundant suffixes, such as "fantastical."
- The trend toward making 's mandatory for ALL possessives, even if they end with S.
"If a name already ends with an s, the extra s is sometimes dropped: Jesus' parables. This is more common in U.S. usage and with classical names (Eros' statue, Herodotus' book). Additionally, many contemporary names that end with -es (a -z sound) will see the extra s dropped by some writers: Charles' car, though most style guides advocate Charles's car." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostrophe_%28mark%29As I've noted elsewhere, forcing the extra S leads to such ugliness as "James Arness's horse." Three esses in a row! Lord have mercy.
If we went by pronunciation and not printed esthetics alone, it might be justified, as we would say "Arnessez." But we would not say, not without sounding odd, "Jesusuzz."
Similarly, here is a website which lists common errors in English:
The man's name is Paul Brians. Possessifying that as "Brians's" pushes a pronunciation of "Brianzuzz," which is pretty tragic. Poor man has enough trouble getting people not to use "Brian's."
In other words, I suggest that there are good and rational reasons for allowing a writer to use forms like Arness' and Jesus' and Brians'. It's not just a matter of uniform punctuation.
Jason: Does SOLO have an official style sheet you can post? I notice that your use of dashes - is like so, and I'd be glad to adopt this if that's the official preference.
Steve wrote:Steve, I don't recall Shermer's rationale, but I've used "nontheist" in my own writing.
But whilst we are on the topic of language corruption, I despise what is happening to the word "atheist", more and more it is used exclusively in the strong sense, and skeptic Micheal Shermer, whom I otherwise admire, is contributing to this. I think he actually wants to coin the phrase "non-theist" as a replacement.
In my case, I used it stipulatively to distinguish between an atheist who denies that a god exists and a nontheist who holds no belief in a god (for lack of evidence) but does not deny the possibility. It might appear that agnosticism would cover the latter, but as Huxley used it, it referred to the existence of God as something unknowable, not just unknown.
So rather than a replacement for atheist, as I use it, it denotes a particular form of atheism. If someone's motive is to avoid the culturally negative connotations of atheist, however, that's a fool's errand--it would only be a matter of time before nontheist had pejorative overtones.