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Forum: Story Discussion and Feedback

Why Feedback When There's No Reply?

aerosick

Yeah, a pet peeve of mine. While some Authors are good at responding to Feedback, many others never bother to send me a reply. Are they even reading my Feedback? No way to know, huh. They should disable this feature if they won't take advantage of it.

I think this lack of response may put off a lot of Readers from making this effort...

John Demille

@aerosick

It's a pet peeve of mine too. I hate it when I send feedback to an author, especially a we thought out one and feel that I sent it into a black hole.

Now my policy is to always send a feedback to a new author when I read his/her work for the first time. I stop sending if I get no reply.

It's enough to get back 'thanks for the feedback' and nothing more; but acknowledge at least.

You're not the first to express this feeling. I'm sure many author start with a deluge of feedback and then it goes to nothing later if they don't reply.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@aerosick

I always advise authors to reply. Even an automated one would help. Many readers on the site have mentioned this before.

And since only 4-5% of readers bother to reply, losing one is bad for an author and actually for all authors. Some readers get disappointed enough to stop sending feedback altogether.

Ernest Bywater

@aerosick

what time frame are you talking about. I reply to all emails I get, but, due to real life, health, etc in can take up to 8 weeks, as I say in my blog, expect several weeks for a reply.

Switch Blayde

@aerosick

I think this lack of response may put off a lot of Readers from making this effort...


It had that affect on me as a reader

aerosick
Updated:

Ernest, I sent my 1st one January 12th. But none to you. I'll wait then, Thanks.

Crumbly Writer

There are a lot of factors that play into this, but yes, the biggest is author interest. For older stories, it's entirely possible the author isn't tracking non-posting story feedback, so I'd cut them a break. However, unlike Ernest, I try to respond right away to feedback, even if it's only to say "I'll look into it and get back to you". However, many authors don't respond at all, under any circumstances.

As you suggest, it's best to feel authors out on this. Send a short note, add praise and maybe one observation/comment/critique. If they respond, then send more, and respond more frequently. If an author doesn't respond, then there's no sense wasting your breath or the author's time.

I've always thought this has to do with how author's view books. In my case, I'm usually ready to rework a story based on reader feedback/response/chapter-ratings. However, many authors (cough, cough, Switch) consider a story done when the publish it. He still responds, but aside from corrections, he doesn't revisit published stories. Taking that a step further, if you're not going to act on responses, then why listen to them at all. For many, writing is a solitary experience, while others prefer hearing how readers respond.

You'll also find that response rates vary with each site. ASSTR has one of the worst response rates. Most of those responding on FS are crossover SOL readers, who'll respond on either site. Thus, Amazon authors tend to be less responsive than those who concentrate on SOL. Dead tree authors are used to NO reader feedback aside from readings, and probably aren't even used to responding to emails.

Also, don't discount authors having lost email accounts. It happens all the time, and often, they won't even realize it.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ernest Bywater

A few other aspects of this that you need to keep in mind as well, are:

1. Is the author still alive?

2. Is the email address still active and checked by them?

3. Is the author in a position to respond at this time?

Now, as to the last one, I know an author who's a tax accountant, and he never has time for story emails for the three months of what he calls the tax season. Another author I know has intermittent access to email because he spends most of his time wandering around the real back areas of the African bush patrolling for armed gangs - it's his job. And a third is out of touch for six months every few years while he's busy doing research work in Antarctica. So it's hard to say how long they need.

On the bright side, all of them are outliers on the email bell curve and the majority of the authors shouldn't be in such situations. As for myself. I do try to respond sooner than the 6-8 week limit, but at the moment I have some major motivation issues from reasons mentioned in my blog, and I don't like replying to emails while feeling down or feeling pissed off. Thus I leave it until I feel up to handling the emails and I'm not going to bite everyone's head off because I'm pissed oof with some zealot of a cop.

I like the feedback to let me know about typos etc that slip through, that way i can fix them.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Also, don't discount authors having lost email accounts. It happens all the time, and often, they won't even realize it.


I had email from my editor going to the junk mail folder for about six months without realizing it.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

I had email from my editor going to the junk mail folder


In some cases that can be a worry, but in some cases it can be good news - listening to this, Jim!!

TeNderLoin
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

JIM7 says: PPPPPPffffffftttttttt!!!!!!!!!!

>

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

In some cases that can be a worry, but in some cases it can be good news


Yeah, but I work in IT. That it was happening for so long without me noticing is kind of embarrassing.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

but I work in IT


Now you know why I retired from that industry.

BTW The character with the smart remark following my last post is one of my editors who I have a lot of interesting email exchanges with on the use of the English language.

Replies:   Dominions Son  graybyrd
richardshagrin

I send feedback when I think of something to say. Usually its not just "good job, great story". If I want to say that I give a high score. More often than not if I send something that makes sense or a reasonable suggestion for improvement I get some sort of response. However I don't really care if I get feedback for my feedback. I want the writer I sent a comment to to keep writing. More stories to read is better than emails back thanking me for sending emails. If I email back again thanking the author for his email, we can get in an infinite loop and cut into valuable writing time.

Lets say I write a wonderful story and get feedback from 10,000 people. Replying to that many emails could take weeks. So instead of spending time writing I send emails back. Seems to defeat the purpose to sending just an ataboy. If you have a valuable suggestion or some point to make, fine, send feedback. Or post something in the forum, or ask Lazeez to let you write reviews and let out your praise or comments in the review. None of our writers are getting any younger. Even the author with that name. I want them to write more good stories, not send me emails.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

Now you know why I retired from that industry.


Nope, not a clue. I actually like my job.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
BlinkReader

Hard to say - I have most positive experience with feedback - almost all authors have replied to me and my to ramblings :)

Maybe just your bad luck? :D

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Nope, not a clue. I actually like my job.


I'm a perfectionist, and I got fed up with upper management who felt:

a. They knew more about what was needed (based on dollar cost) than the technical staff who had to deal with the problems on a daily basis, and

b. Somewhere on the continent was close enough to a good enough job to bill the client.

They create the shit absed on their penny pinching and I get told to clean it up, and not even given a shovel. Got fed up with it. Not enough business for more contractors in my part of the world so ended up retiring.

Replies:   BlinkReader
BlinkReader
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

Then I'm lucky with my job.

There was indeed some time ago scarcity of IT jobs, but last couple of years almost all our youth IT people left us - mostly for EU green fields and Canada - so us couple of old farts are now kings of IT in my country, and now I almost can live of my salary... :D

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

Lets say I write a wonderful story and get feedback from 10,000 people. Replying to that many emails could take weeks. So instead of spending time writing I send emails back. Seems to defeat the purpose to sending just an ataboy.

If I get feedback from 10,000 people to a story I post (given that, at most, only 3% of readers respond), you can bet that I'm going to publish that damn book, and hire a staff to answer each and every one of those damn emails! That's a HUGE outpouring of support, which translates directly to massive sales (think "The Martian"s success).

Jay Cantrell

I readily admit that I don't reply to every message.

I get beteen 25-40 emails after each posting. That is 50-80 every week for five or six months.

I got (by rough count) 559 emails the day my most recent story concluded (and almost 200 since).

I try to respond to substantive comments but I can't craft a reply to a thousand emails. I would get nothing else done.

A lot of the readers send a message after every post. I generally reply once a month to thank them for reading.

I don't reply to comments such as "love (or hate) the story," etc.

Many of the readers have followed me for years and I have been clear about my time and ability to respond.

They would prefer I spend the minimal free time to write. It is not a matter of intent; it is a matter of time.

I have considered stopping feedback altogether but I do get messages with valid points.

But there simply is no way to respond to all the email I get. And since I write for free I can't hire an assistant to do it for me.

Ernest Bywater

@Jay Cantrell

I get beteen 25-40 emails after each posting. That is 50-80 every week for five or six months.


After each new chapter of a new story I also get a lot of emails from people thanking me for the story. However, most are from the same people replying to each chapter. So I usually wait until about a week after the last part is posted then reply to them all. I go to the first, type a reply, and include a line about it being a reply to all their other emails on the story as well then check through the pile and move out the others that person sent. If they have something in one email that requires more than the basic reply I include the answer in the one response to them. Often I get about fifteen response to cover about a hundred emails that way.

Crumbly Writer

@Jay Cantrell

I get beteen 25-40 emails after each posting. That is 50-80 every week for five or six months.

Ah, that's the key. I'm not getting that many responses. (They've slowed down over the years.) Mine are fairly easy to manage--especially when I'm not being overly productive anyway--and I don't get many "Great job, love the story" posts anymore.

sejintenej

@Jay Cantrell

I get beteen 25-40 emails after each posting. That is 50-80 every week for five or six months.

I got (by rough count) 559 emails the day my most recent story concluded (and almost 200 since).

Exactly why I don't expect replies (and often suggest that I don't expect a reply.

Usually it is about typos and spell-check errors so I leave it up to the author to be aware and decide whether to correct or not - I never check.

I am actually surprised by and really appreciate how many authors do reply and, with one exception, in very nice terms.

The exception was where the author has used a foreign language as if it is his own (and in a manner which should be acceptable to non linguists) but then ascribes to the native speaker an English pronunciation which is totally at variance to reality. It was the tone of the reply saying that the speech was a deliberate put-on by the speaker (apparently divulged much later) which "got" me.

cave jug

My experience is slightly different from those you guys have brought up.

When a compliment is due, a compliment is given.

Now, if a story is 6 or seven years old and he or she has not posted anything since, I do not bother with any feedback.
On the other hand, those I follow and read what they write, will always get a feedback, and I do not expect any replay. We have established such an understanding, so it is up to an author's discretion to respond/discus an issue, if any.

There 7 authors I have established a very good rapport with and I do buy a story of them before it starts being posted.
Benefit is mutual, he/she gets the money and I have a completed story to read at my own pace.

There is something very peculiar about sending a negative critique to an author. Had a replay, once, pretty nasty one at that. Somehow this particular chap could not take it. A case of "being above any criticism" or suffering from delusion of grandeur.

Such is life.

Crumbly Writer

Typically, with typos or specific story errors, I'll respond with how I resolved the issue, just in case they want to comment (whether it resolves their issues or not). That response also assures readers that you, the author, does address suggestions seriously.

Dicrostonyx
Updated:

@aerosick


While some Authors are good at responding to Feedback, many others never bother to send me a reply. Are they even reading my Feedback? No way to know, huh. They should disable this feature if they won't take advantage of it.


From my point of view, there are basically two answers to this.

First, when I initially contact an author I will do so with a short but substantive comment. I will generally praise the overall work or idea -- after all, if it was a complete mess I have no reason to fully read it, let alone to contact the author -- and also give specific examples of what I enjoyed or thought worked.

If I had issues with parts of it, or if I noticed a problem or error, I will give one specific example and offer to provide more detail on request.

Part of the reason that I do this is politeness; not every author necessarily wants to receive a long and specific criticism of their work, and it's not particularly friendly to send such a thing out of the blue. Additionally, though, I do it for my own piece of mind: if I don't invest much of myself into the email, then I won't be upset if I don't get a reply.

The second answer to your question is a bit more philosophical. Why do I send feedback even if I don't expect a reply? Why send feedback at all?

The answer to that is a desire for an author's future works to be better. Now, I'm a tough marker, so to speak. I will list all errors I've noticed, and don't censor myself just because stories are free or authors are amateurs. I approach contacting an author on a site like SOL the same way that I would a peer review of an academic paper or an edit of a training manual (both of which I have plentiful experience with).

The reason that I don't treat free authors with "kid gloves", as it were, is two-fold. First, because my time (and the time of all readers) is finite; if I spend six hours reading a story, then it doesn't matter if that story was on SOL or the NYT best-seller list, either way I lose six hours and I want to have enjoyed that time.

The second reason is the assumption that any person who chooses to express themselves through writing has something that they want to say, and the desire for that message to reach an audience. Correcting any issues helps to broaden the audience and ensure the message comes across clearly.

So, the reason that I'll contact an author is because I would like to see more of what I liked and less of what I didn't. If you like something, let the author know or they may give up. If you don't like something, let them know, and be prepared to move on if they don't want to change that.

But if someone doesn't send feedback at all, then they're not involved in the process and might as well just consume the medium passively and stop complaining.

graybyrd

@Ernest Bywater

BTW The character with the smart remark following my last post is one of my editors who I have a lot of interesting email exchanges with on the use of the English language.


That's a misleading statement on its face: It's a well-known fact that Ernest writes a dialect of Aussie, and TeNderLoin now holds forth in Arzonian.
The one billows forth in great flowing streams while the other seasons it with pungent sprinkles of ground pepper flakes.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@graybyrd

It's a well-known fact that Ernest writes a dialect of Aussie, and TeNderLoin now holds forth in Arzonian.


The emails reach Yuma without any troubles at all. The biggest issue we have is I hate commas and he wants one after every third word. It helps to have him edit the stories because if he understands it I know most US citizens will also (not so sure about the politicians and a few others having enough savvy to understand them).

aerosick
Updated:

The biggest issue we have is I hate commas and he wants one after every third word.

Some good rules here:

http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/commas.asp

Ernest Bywater

@aerosick

Some good rules here:


I know. A major part of the problem, and I suspect it's part of the US educational system, is the definition of what a dependent clause is and the result is the unnecessary fragmentation of sentences by using commas to to cut them up into a variant of the See Spot variety. However, we're sorting it out. He's not as bad as he used to be, and I can easily just ignore the ones I dislike. About 5% of the time he does identify where I should add some sort of extra punctuation or re-word the sentence.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

A major part of the problem, and I suspect it's part of the US educational system, is the definition of what a dependent clause is


Just out of curiosity, how does the U.S. education system's definition of a dependent clause differ from the Australian education system?

Replies:   Dicrostonyx
sejintenej

@aerosick

The biggest issue we have is I hate commas and he wants one after every third word.
Some good rules here:
http://www.grammarbook

BUT look at them carefully. I think rule 6 about the insertion of commas applies far more often than we realise
However, for the purposes of example I quote from rule 2:
Quote: Use a comma to separate two adjectives when the order of the adjectives is interchangeable.

Example: He is a strong, healthy man.
We could also say healthy, strong man.

Unquote

The lady omits any reference to when the order of adjectives is interchangeable.Is she not playing with enallage?

As for adjectives there IS a very specific order in which classes of adjectives must be used in circumstances like the above. I have just spent an hour looking for it in my "bible" but had to cheat so this what I found elsewhere:
opinion (ugly)
size (tiny)
shape (round)
condition (broken)
age (old)
colour (green)
pattern (flowery)
origin (German)
Material (wood)
Purpose (shopping)

In front of those there are things like articles, ownership and others

Going back to the first quotes I have a dilemma - I would say that both adjectives relate to "condition" so where are the rules there? I know that there is a predetermined order of vowels for one vowel words but what happens when words have multiple vowels.
Two questions: why the blazes don't they teach us these things in primary school?
Does it matter anyway (except in your thesis for a doctorate)?

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@sejintenej


Does it matter anyway (except in your thesis for a doctorate)?


It really matters when the error causes confusion to the reader. Everything else is simply how grammatically correct you want your writing to be.

richardshagrin

I have a problem with a sign I see at my grocery store, "Free Customer Parking."

If I am married am I a free customer? I can see requiring slaves to park on the street. I was in the Army for two years, was I a free customer then?
There might be former prisoners on parole, are they free? I am not into Bondage, but if I were used to being tied up, would I still be a free customer?

I strongly suspect the sign should say "Customer Free Parking" or even better "Free Parking for Customers." Customer-free parking might be parking where customers were excluded. Like fat-free milk has no fat. I don't think there is punctuation that would improve Free Customer Parking. Most people don't have any problem with it, so I suppose I am either anal or weird. I just see the possible meaning of Parking for Free Customers. How can you be sure its Free Parking for Customers?

Dicrostonyx
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


Just out of curiosity, how does the U.S. education system's definition of a dependent clause differ from the Australian education system?


I can't answer that directly (hopefully someone else can), as I'm neither American nor Australian, but I have some experience with the effect.

I'm Canadian, but I attended private and international schools due to travel, and those types of schools tend to teach grammar in classical British styles. More recently, when I returned to university after several years in the work-force, I found that while most professors don't have any issue with the use of British spellings -- as opposed to official Canadian spellings, which are a mix of British and American -- as long as you're consistent, they do generally require that you use the more modern grammar styles.

In a word, the rule is "simplification". This applies both to how the rules are taught and to how they are implemented. I suspect that @Ernest Bywater is referring to the fact that the U.S. government has been de-emphasising and de-funding education for years, so in order to ensure that kids can graduate school they make the training easier. And yes, the problem with this has been noted by many: according to OECD rankings the US is now 29th out of 76 nations compared in basic education; Canada is 10th and Australia is 14th.

The point being that since US schools are are trying to get a high percentage of kids to graduate while not having much budget, a lot of grammar rules are being simplified. Instead of teaching kids the actual fundamentals of grammar, public schools teach easy mnemonics for how to remember when to use a given punctuation mark.

For example, everyone here has probably heard the mnemonic that commas represent pauses for breath, and everyone knows that that is only partially true. That rule is more about when to breathe when reading aloud than it is about when to punctuate, but it can be used as a general rule of thumb in some situations when you're not sure if you need a comma or not. But if someone is taught the "commas represent pauses" concept as the fundamental rule, rather than as rule of thumb to support an underlying rule, then they will apply it all the time because they do not have a deeper understanding of grammar to support their writing.

There are also certain grammatical uses which are falling out of style, though not precisely wrong. I've met a number of people, both in academia and business, who won't use semicolons at all; I'm not sure if that's a fad, with people simply disliking the semicolon, or if it's a part of the ongoing simplification of English grammar in the US, since using semicolons correctly is complicated and it is rare that you cannot just replace them with a period.

On the other hand, I was also taught the old British way of punctuating within quotation marks, also known as the logical style, and that seems to be going out of favour everywhere. In the old British style, all punctuation relevant to the text inside the quotation marks is included inside the quote, all punctuation relevant to the overall sentence is outside the quotes, and nothing is eliminated even if redundant. This can lead to duplicate periods and the like. It makes perfect sense, but looks somewhat silly in print.

Ernest Bywater

@Dicrostonyx

The aspect that gets me the most is they way they fragment a sentence with commas that aren't needed. When I query US authors about it they claim it's a dependent clause when it's a cause of what i was taught as part of the main sentence. Here's a couple of examples from a story I'm re-reading:

I had not played that much snooker before, but I did know how to play. - correct usage

Maggie and Kate were up, so I got up to help. - correct usage

After I started the engines, there was one last group of hugs before we disconnected shore services, took in the lines, and slowly made our way from the dock. - I was taught the first comma isn't needed because the clause is part of the sentence and just stating the timing.

This is the most common usage I see with US authors - every damn time reference is set aside with a comma.

As soon as I knew the kids were being taken care of, I laid back down between Sue and Mercy. - another timing case where the comma isn't needed to make sense of the sentence.

Another thing is, in the longer sentence above the author correctly uses commas to split up a list of actions in the second half of the sentence, yet a lot of US authors want to make each action a separate sentence and reduce it to the See Spot run category.

Regarding semi-colons and colons; well, it's a case of the people not understanding the proper usage.

I was taught it's wrong to have punctuation marks on both sides of quotes or brackets.

sejintenej

@richardshagrin

I'm too important (well, somebody has to say it). I will not be classified as a common or garden muck raking customer - I an a client. Now about this parking sign - I class that as class distinction.

" my grocery store" and "I am either anal or weird": Well, things have come to a pretty pass...

Switch Blayde

@Dicrostonyx

In the old British style, all punctuation relevant to the text inside the quotation marks is included inside the quote, all punctuation relevant to the overall sentence is outside the quotes, and nothing is eliminated even if redundant.


I actually agree with the British way, except for the last part -- the redundant part. First, it makes sense. Second, sometimes the U.S. way needs to be modified under certain situations, such as:

I got an "A".

Per the U.S. way, the period should be inside the quote, but when it's a single letter it goes outside.

As to grammar, I agree the U.S. schools are lacking. But that's even more a reason to point out grammar problems here and learn them. If you didn't learn it in school, learn it here.

Whether you learned grammar or not, a dependent clause is a dependent clause. I don't think the definition is different from one English speaking country to another.

I also agree rules change. Unless I was writing a formal paper, I'd write:

"I was taller than her"
even though to be grammatically correct it should be
"I was taller than she."

There's no way I'd write the latter way. I even had a beta reader tell me I wrote it wrong (she's Pakistani so she must learn English grammar rules more stringently than us (and British rules). I told her it didn't sound right, and fiction is all about sounding right and flowing.

Now some things people argue over in this group are not grammar at all. They're style. Whether you put internal thoughts in italics or single quotes or blue is not a grammar issue.

Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater


After I started the engines, there was one last group of hugs before


That has nothing to do with dependent clauses. The comma is there because it's setting off an introductory phrase.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

I have a problem with a sign I see at my grocery store, "Free Customer Parking."

In a red-light district, that would include free parking for pimps and cops.

Replies:   tppm
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Another thing is, in the longer sentence above the author correctly uses commas to split up a list of actions in the second half of the sentence, yet a lot of US authors want to make each action a separate sentence and reduce it to the See Spot run category.

I don't see them breaking a list of actions into separate sentences, but there's a big move to eliminating lists entirely as being overly confusing (i.e. why focus on multiple items rather than the main one the character is engaged in?).

Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

yet a lot of US authors want to make each action a separate sentence and reduce it to the See Spot run category


If the actions are complete sentences then, yes, it needs to be separating with a period (the See Spot run category you don't like) or combined with a conjunction, or separated with a semicolon.

"I saw him run, jump, and fall."

Those are separate actions that are joined with commas (the comma before the "and" is only needed if you use the Oxford comma).

But...

"I saw him run, I saw him jump."

is two actions, but is also a comma splice (form of run-on sentence). It needs to be:

"I saw him run. I saw him jump."
"I saw him run; I saw him jump."
"I saw him run, and I saw him jump."

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
sejintenej

@Ernest Bywater

After I started the engines, there was one last group of hugs before we disconnected shore services, took in the lines, and slowly made our way from the dock. - I was taught the first comma isn't needed because the clause is part of the sentence and just stating the timing.


That is a difficult one because of the way it is written. The snogging is not a critical part of starting the engine, taking in the lines and getting under way. The way it is written IMHO I agree with you BUT if you changed the word 'before' to a different conjunction then there should be commas after 'engine' and 'hugs'

Another thing is, in the longer sentence above the author correctly uses commas to split up a list of actions in the second half of the sentence, yet a lot of US authors want to make each action a separate sentence and reduce it to the See Spot run category.

After multiple comments about modern education the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle is essential. I'm surprised they allow words of more than two syllables.

I was taught it's wrong to have punctuation marks on both sides of quotes or brackets.

KISS again; it depends on the text and has already been covered, in my view, accurately.
(I put the commas in there because it is an aside to the definitive statement)

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

"I saw him run, jump, and fall."


This is a valid list of action, but too often, instead of doing this, we get:

I saw him run. I saw him jump. I saw him fall. Thus it comes out as a beginner readers text, and reads bad.

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

That has nothing to do with dependent clauses. The comma is there because it's setting off an introductory phrase.


When I've asked US authors about this in the past they've called in a dependent clause and in need of a comma. Whatever you want to call it, there is no need for a comma there, in fact it fragments the sentence when it doesn't need to. It breaks up the flow of the story.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

When I've asked US authors about this in the past they've called in a dependent clause and in need of a comma. Whatever you want to call it, there is no need for a comma there, in fact it fragments the sentence when it doesn't need to. It breaks up the flow of the story.


It goes back to Rule 4a in the link someone provided above. And she sort of agrees with you when she says:

However, if the introductory phrase is clear and brief (three or four words), the comma is optional.


and

When an introductory phrase begins with a preposition, a comma may not be necessary even if the phrase contains more than three or four words.

sejintenej

@aerosick

Some good rules here:

http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/commas.asp


Yes, I agree with slight reservations. She has agreed with some commentators and changed some things. I suspect that there will never be a book of grammar rules which everyone agrees with. For me the other difficulty, as has been already stated, is that many or most people speak and write a language which might not be grammatically perfect but which is clearly understandable.

There is one query up for moderation:
Although he never owned it there is a bit of real estate outside New York which (pop Quiz #5) she says should be called John F Kennedy's airport or (I'm not sure of the legal name) JFK's airport.
OK she was writing about an airport in Ikeja but it is an exact parallel.

She MIGHT be right but in such case there will be ructions if anyone tries to force the CAA and the US and other equivalent bodies to change

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
tppm

@Crumbly Writer

In a red-light district, [Free Customer Parking] would include free parking for pimps and cops.


re "Free Customer Parking": That might include cops, but pimps are employees and as such should park, along with the girls, in the employee parking area.

Dicrostonyx

@Ernest Bywater

After I started the engines, there was one last group of hugs before we disconnected shore services, took in the lines, and slowly made our way from the dock. - I was taught the first comma isn't needed because the clause is part of the sentence and just stating the timing.


I certainly agree that the second set of commas looks like the Oxford comma, on the grounds that the writer is listing three activities which the protagonist is engaging in. The Oxford comma itself is somewhat contentious these days, but I'm in favour of it.

As to the first comma, I think that's one of the few cases where you really can take it or leave it. Neither @Switch Blayde's comment that it is setting off the introductory phrase nor yours that it unnecessarily fragments the sentence is wholly correct or incorrect. I'd suggest that this is a stylistic choice, although author intent may come into play.

If the author is putting the comma there because they really do think that it is a dependent clause, then the comma is likely unnecessary. However, it is possible that the author just wants the comma there as a stylistic choice, but isn't quite sure what the rule is so they say that it's a dependent clause because that's a phrase they know.

Orson Scott Card, who teaches writing at a college level when not writing, once suggested that anyone who speaks English well can also write well, the problem is that most people don't believe they can write so they over-think things. If you just write things down the way you would think things through, then you can fine tune it afterwards.

Since we're looking at somewhat complicated examples, try this one:

Dinner, cake and ice cream, and a fire in the fireplace were all cool.
-- from Living Next Door to Heaven, part 1, by Aroslav.


When I first looked at that I thought that it might be changed to:

Dinner, cake, and ice cream, followed by a fire in the fireplace, were all cool.


On reflection, though, that mildly shift the meaning. Alternatively, you could change "cake and ice cream" to "cake with ice cream", but that might then imply that the ice cream isn't optional, everyone has to eat both.

Eventually I decided that the way it is written probably is best to convey what the author intended, but that it is also a very good example of a situation where it is absolutely necessary for any editor to understand the grammatical rules rather than just go by what sounds right, and where very minor differences in punctuation can shift meaning.

@Switch Blayde

"I was taller than her"
even though to be grammatically correct it should be
"I was taller than she."


Alternatively, since you're aware of the potential issue, you might change it to: "She was shorter that I was.". Which would be correct both grammatically and in how it sounds.

she's Pakistani so she must learn English grammar rules more stringently than us (and British rules)


I've interacted with a lot of people who have learned English as their second (or third, or fourth) language. In general, and this is certainly an oversimplification, there are two major factors which affect how they learn English.

In Central and South America, people get English books primarily from the US, but most of the rest of the world gets them from Britain. This is purely economic; shipping is cheaper from the UK to Europe, Africa, and Asia then it is from the US. As a result, they're are actually a lot more people in the world who learn British grammar and spelling when they learn the language officially. This ignores Commonwealth countries like Canada and Australia which have to print their own because we use variations on British English.

The catch, though, is that the US film & TV industries export a lot more to the rest of the world than the UK does. Historically, large parts of the world had almost no local film industry, although that has shifted in the past few decades. The result is that many people speak English closer to the US way and know more American slang.

This creates a somewhat odd effect. A lot of continental Europeans (and western Asians such as the Middle-East and Russian states) can read and write English very well, but lack confidence when speaking the language. South-east Asians, especially Japanese and Philippinos, are often the opposite: they are confident in their ability to speak English, but lack basic training. Many of them are overconfident, in fact, which is a problem when they come to Canada for post-secondary education and can't understand or be understood by the professors.

I haven't spoken to anyone from Pakistan, but I'm not surprised that your beta-reader falls into the camp of having a good technical knowledge of the language but less of an ear for it.

Ernest Bywater

@Dicrostonyx

If you just write things down the way you would think things through, then you can fine tune it afterwards.


I can agree with this. One of the reasons I write in the vernacular is it is a lot more free flowing and way too often formal English leaves me thinking WTF in fiction stories because the strict adherence to the formal English grammar rules actual breaks the attention flow of the story due to characters sounding unrealistic.

Switch Blayde

@Dicrostonyx

"I was taller than her"
even though to be grammatically correct it should be
"I was taller than she."

Alternatively, since you're aware of the potential issue, you might change it to: "She was shorter that I was.". Which would be correct both grammatically and in how it sounds.


If I were to change it to make it grammatically correct, I'd simply add one word:

I was taller than she was.

My point was, as an author, I break rules when I want to, but I know I'm breaking them.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Switch Blayde

Another possible option would to indicate how tall you are, in feet and inches, or meters and centimeters if that better fits the location where the story located. And then mention how tall she is. This might even be showing rather than telling relative heights. Or even mention how well you two fit together (dancing?) with her head even with your chin, or possibly waist (for a midget), or some reasonable point between that lets the reader know Big macho hero towers over Small adorable heroine.

sejintenej

@Dicrostonyx

In Central and South America, people get English books primarily from the US, but most of the rest of the world gets them from Britain. This is purely economic; shipping is cheaper from the UK to Europe, Africa, and Asia then it is from the US.

So far as Brasil is concerned a number of people go to the US for their further education - the owner of the company I worked for got his medical qualifications in Chicago, my immediate boss went to Harvard, I knew Yale graduates etc. This created a problem for us in Europe because of the different meanings of technical (and other) words and phrases so there were some which were banned.

As for Japanese people (and this goes back decades) those in Europe knew English but couldn't get their mouths round the sounds. An exception spoke good clear English because he had an English "pillow dictionary" but apparently even that was the cause of considerable problems where he worked.

I can't speak for other countries but here we have learned American from films but still speak out own basic language adding in imported words from everywhere. That said there are areas where nobody speaks English- I heard of one school where the pupils speak 129 different languages when they arrive

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@sejintenej

I can't speak for other countries but here we have learned American from films but still speak out own basic language adding in imported words from everywhere. That said there are areas where nobody speaks English- I heard of one school where the pupils speak 129 different languages when they arrive


I know an Australian woman who works overseas teaching English as a second language - last time we talked she was in Russia, her ninth or tenth country. She told me that some countries have two English courses - English and American - they see them as related but different languages. And some countries refuse to hire US teachers because it leads to trouble due to the differences in how they teach. Danged if I know what the differences are, but it's worth noting how others view things.

Dicrostonyx
Updated:

@richardshagrin


Another possible option would to indicate how tall you are, in feet and inches, or meters and centimeters [sic]* if that better fits the location where the story located.


That creates a whole separate problem, though. Too many authors rely on levels of specificity that characters simply wouldn't know. Most adults only have a vague idea of their own height, let alone being able to guess another person's height just by looking at them.

The one story I've read recently where it makes sense that the major characters know the precise heights of everyone in the group is Aroslav's "Living Next Door to Heaven". The protagonist is well under average height for a guy, and had his growth spurt late, so his height had always been seen as a flaw. When he did start growing, he and his friends would all collectively measure themselves at parties.

Overall I agree with @Switch Blayde's phrasing, but I'm not sure that I agree with the assertion that breaking the rules is fine as long as you know that you're doing it. I don't disagree, precisely; breaking select rules is certainly a stylistic choice, and some of the best novels in history have broken contemporary rules. My issue is that an editor or reader does not know if a rule was broken intentionally or not, so unless the entire story is written in a specific style, the broken rule has to be something which looks correct to the intended audience.

sejintenej, Ernest Bywater

Thank you both, I am always interested in other people's experiences with respect to language. Despite having travelled a lot, and being very interested in linguistics and language, I've never really been able to learn a second language myself beyond a couple of years of Latin in Middle School and the grade 11 French that I needed to graduate in my province.

A lot of my information about the "problems" different nationalities have with English comes from my mother having taught English as a Second Language for most of her professional life. Depending on the college's requirements, she would teach both immigrants learning English after moving here and international students coming to Canada for college, but intending to return home. The latter group tended to be younger and less disciplined, but those two things tend to go together anyway so it's not really a comment on nationality.

* Footnote: Note that "meter" is an American spelling only, the rest of the world uses "metre". While that doesn't make "meter" wrong, I've always found it odd that the US needs its own spelling for a system of measurement which is not officially used in that country.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Dicrostonyx

That creates a whole separate problem, though. Too many authors rely on levels of specificity that characters simply wouldn't know.


That depends on the point of view the story is told from. A third person omniscient narrator would know everyone's precise height, though too much precision about such things is not necessarily a good thing.

Most adults only have a vague idea of their own height, let alone being able to guess another person's height just by looking at them.


Can't speak for anywhere else, but most adults I know (I am in the US midwest) know their height to at least the nearest inch. I would consider that a good bit more than a vague idea.

Knowing your own basic measurements is important for many things, including but not limited to buying clothes.

Another method that can be used (for almost any POV) would be to have the MC compare other people to himself.

A stranger walked in the room. (MC or POV character) noted that the stranger was around 4 inches taller than himself.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dicrostonyx

* Footnote: Note that "meter" is an American spelling only, the rest of the world uses "metre". While that doesn't make "meter" wrong,


I'm Australian and grew up in the pre-metric imperial measurement days, but was always taught that metre is a measure of distance of just over 39 inches and meter is a device for measuring something, such as a speedometer to tell you how fast your car is going, etc.

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

That depends on the point of view the story is told from. A third person omniscient narrator would know everyone's precise height, though too much precision about such things is not necessarily a good thing.


The only time I've ever come across someone who gave a description of a person with exact figures on height was a cop describing a wanted person or similar work situation. Even the cops, when describing someone outside of a work situation, use more generic terms like tall, short, or " He's a hands-width taller than 'Shorty' Ball."

It seems more natural to use generic terms and references in describing people, because that's how it's done in real life.

Replies:   Dominions Son
sejintenej
Updated:

@Dicrostonyx


sejintenej, Ernest Bywater

Thank you both, I am always interested in other people's experiences with respect to language. Despite having travelled a lot, and being very interested in linguistics and language, I've never really been able to learn a second language myself


Nobody believes it but languages are one of my phobias. As your mother probably realised a lot of the problem is differences in background cultures and that is, I think, a major reason why it is important to be immersed in the new culture. I wrote elsewhere about Tachi - the Japanese who was so good because of his "pillow dictionary". Were I not married .....!

However if you live and work in a country and see nobody who speaks your language ...... I've made many boo-boos but they have always been accepted as par for the course where foreigners are concerned.

One employer sent several of us to the local Uni to learn the politenesses in each of the languages used by staff in our offices. Everyone spoke (good) English but we had to recognise the tribal scars and say things like "good morning", "how are you" "thank you" to each of the staff in their own language. Seven languages, three of them tonal. In one of those one sound could be a house or a crocodile or part of the verb 'to be': you don't want to mix those up.

I still get thoroughly mixed up between a couple (that teacher tore out a lot of hair!)and as for the various versions of American Spanish I just don't want to know

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

It seems more natural to use generic terms and references in describing people, because that's how it's done in real life.


Agreed, but I was referring to a 3rd omni narrator.

and for your "hands-width taller than" to be useful at some point you need to give the height for the reference character in less general terms.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
richardshagrin

Another reason for knowing how tall you are, at least in Washington State, USA is that that information is on your drivers license along with your sex (M or F), weight (in pounds), eye color, date of birth and a photo of your head and shoulders. I am under the impression Washington is not unique in displaying this information. Driver Licenses can be used for identification in a lot of situations.

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

for your "hands-width taller than" to be useful at some point you need to give the height for the reference character in less general terms.


Correct, and it should've been there well before hand. But even with a 3rd omni narrator it sounds stupid and annoying to have everyone described as xxx cm high yyy kg weight etc - many readers find such information annoying, unless it's important to something in the plot - and then you can have a character introduce it. It gets worse when you have cross-culture descriptions. Few people outside the USA understand what you mean when you say someone is 6' 2" and 230 pounds, while few in the USA would understand what you mean when you say 185 cm tall and 105 kilograms - but all will understand you saying he's tall and of a solid build.

Stick to generic descriptions and readers can relate better. If you need to make a point you can mention the need to bend while going through a normal doorway or something similar.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

But even with a 3rd omni narrator it sounds stupid and annoying to have everyone described as xxx cm high yyy kg weight etc - many readers find such information annoying


Agreed, which is why I had said

A third person omniscient narrator would know everyone's precise height, though too much precision about such things is not necessarily a good thing.

Switch Blayde

@Dicrostonyx

but I'm not sure that I agree with the assertion that breaking the rules is fine as long as you know that you're doing it.


I, like many authors, use fragmented sentences for effect. They get flagged all the time by my grammar checker because they're not grammatically correct (usually no subject). But they work in fiction so I use them.

At one time, I never used contractions in the narrative part of a story. Then I noticed King and others use contractions and realized it sounds less formal and flows better. Not that a contraction is a grammar error, but it's an "error" in formal writing. That's what I meant by breaking the rules of "her" vs "she" because "she" sounds too formal.

I may be wrong. Until I learned how to use lay/lie, the correct way sounded odd to me (as it probably does to most people), but I forced myself to do it correctly. Now doing it wrong sounds wrong since I trained myself on the proper grammar.

I don't know if I'm right. I know I am concerning the fragmented sentences, but not so sure about the she/her.

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach

@Switch Blayde

I, like many authors, use fragmented sentences for effect. They get flagged all the time by my grammar checker because they're not grammatically correct (usually no subject). But they work in fiction so I use them.


A sentence with an implied subject is not an error.

Ex.: "He got up. Looked down at her. Laughed. And walked out the door." [What a jerk.]

There's no grammar error there.

bb

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Bondi Beach

Ex.: "He got up. Looked down at her. Laughed. And walked out the door." [What a jerk.]

There's no grammar error there.


I googled my grammar expert, Grammar Girl, and this is what she says at http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/sentence-fragments

Imperative Sentences

There's even a sentence form called the imperative that lets you make one-word sentences such as "Run!" Imperative sentences are commands, and the subject is always assumed to be the person you are talking to. If Squiggly looks at the aardvark and says, "Run!," Aardvark knows that he's the one who should be running. It's such a strong command that he knows it is imperative for him to run.


So you're correct. I don't have grammar errors when I do that. Good to know.

richardshagrin

Imperative sentences don't have to be one word. The motto of the University of Washington is Lux Sit which is Latin for "Let There Be Light". Sit is the imperative form of esse, to be in Latin.

Crumbly Writer

@sejintenej

Although he never owned it there is a bit of real estate outside New York which (pop Quiz #5) she says should be called John F Kennedy's airport or (I'm not sure of the legal name) JFK's airport.

The Airport is named after JFK as an honorarium, he doesn't own the airport, thus it's not his. The proper name is "John F. Kennedy International Airport". I don't understand how this can possibly be unclear or confusing for any grammar fanatic?

@Richardshagin

Another possible option would to indicate how tall you are, in feet and inches, or meters and centimeters if that better fits the location where the story located. And then mention how tall she is. This might even be showing rather than telling relative heights.

I'm sorry, but telling readers how tall someone is (with no real plot objective in giving that specific information) is not showing! Showing would be:

I smiled down at her, while she craned her neck to meet my gaze.

Replies:   sejintenej
Crumbly Writer

@Dicrostonyx

My issue is that an editor or reader does not know if a rule was broken intentionally or not, so unless the entire story is written in a specific style, the broken rule has to be something which looks correct to the intended audience.

The point isn't whether a passage is intentionally correct or incorrect, it's whether the passage works in the setting or not. If it works, it succeeds, whether or not it's 'proper English'. A famous case was a novel written by a cockroach, so of course, it had NO capital letters or much punctuation, yet the story worked beautifully, because the 'errors' fit into the story perfectly.

@DS

A third person omniscient narrator would know everyone's precise height, though too much precision about such things is not necessarily a good thing.

Not if there's no specific reason for them knowing. Quoting inches or millimeters makes no sense, though it's a common flaw for newbie authors unfamiliar with how to broach subjects. It's not a 'natural' way of expressing information. Just as most people wouldn't know how tall someone is, there's little reason for an unidentified third part narrator to quote such figures--especially if the characters themselves would be unlikely to know it.

Bra sizes are a perfect example of this. Thousands of stories here specify each woman's bra size in exact sizes, even though 80% of women wear the incorrect bra sizes, and have no idea what size they wear, or even how to properly measure themselves.

But the biggest issue, is that there's no need for the author to know how many inches tall someone is. Is he a big man or a small shrimp? That's adequate, and can be conveyed more effectively in how others respond to them, rather than quoting unrelated facts and figures (the prime example of telling a story).

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Not if there's no specific reason for them knowing.


You like EB have apparently missed the entire second half of that sentence. A third omni narrator by definition knows everything. That includes every character's precise height.

I agree that including that information in the narration for no particular reason is not a good idea.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Dominions Son

Thousands of stories here specify each woman's bra size in exact sizes, even though 80% of women wear the incorrect bra sizes, and have no idea what size they wear, or even how to properly measure themselves.


The average bra cup size in the US has increased significantly in the last few decades. I have seen both academic researchers and industry insiders saying that the cause is not that women's breasts are getting bigger, but because more women are buying better fit bras, a smaller band size with a larger cup size.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
sejintenej

@Crumbly Writer

@sejintenej

Although he never owned it there is a bit of real estate outside New York which (pop Quiz #5) she says should be called John F Kennedy's airport or (I'm not sure of the legal name) JFK's airport.

The Airport is named after JFK as an honorarium, he doesn't own the airport, thus it's not his. The proper name is "John F. Kennedy International Airport". I don't understand how this can possibly be unclear or confusing for any grammar fanatic?


That, CW, is EXACTLY the point I was trying to make.
Just as the New York airport uses JFK's name to honour him so Lagos airport uses the town's name for the same reason. That woman, in her reply to the Pop Quiz, is claiming that it should be Lagos' or Lagos's airport

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@sejintenej

Just as the New York airport uses JFK's name to honour him so Lagos airport uses the town's name for the same reason.


Just wait, some idiot will claim Duke University is named after John Wayne's nickname.

Dicrostonyx
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Can't speak for anywhere else, but most adults I know (I am in the US midwest) know their height to at least the nearest inch. I would consider that a good bit more than a vague idea.


I would suggest, rather, that the average person knows their height as it was the last time it was measured, which was very likely for their first driver's license. Most people don't have big growth spurts later in life, but height does vary to a small degree based on a number of factors.

As for clothing, unless you're wearing a high-end suit or evening gown, for which you'll be measured at the time, North American sizes are not particularly accurate.


A stranger walked in the room. (MC or POV character) noted that the stranger was around 4 inches taller than himself.


This is precisely the sort of thing that I'm talking about, though. I've never heard anyone say "that guy is four inches shorter than I am", rather it's "a few inches shorter", or "several inches", or "a full head shorter", or "only comes up to my shoulders", etc. There are exceptions, certainly; some people train in height identification such as police and professional security, but for the most part people don't tend to worry about specifics too much because it simply doesn't affect day to day life.


A third omni narrator by definition knows everything.


Technically true in its purest form, but full omniscience is actually fairly rare in writing, and generally not recommended, especially for newer authors. What you're talking about with full omniscience is a situation with a non-character narrator who knows everything because they are somehow outside of events, such as the story being told by god-equivalent being.

When talking about limited view versus omniscient view, what is generally being discussed is the number of point of view characters. A limited narrative has the perspective linked to single character throughout the story; being third person it can describe the environment in terms the character might not use, but has "limited omniscience" in that the narrator knows the character's thoughts and feelings.

Third person omniscience, in literary terms, refers simply to having multiple point of view characters. For example, a story involving an alien invasion might have one character involved in the politics and diplomacy, one who is a field general, one who is an infantryman, and one who is special forces. Each character has a different understanding of the war due to differing access to information, which allows the reader to build a more complete picture of the overall invasion than any one character would have.

For reference, J.K.Rowling's Harry Potter series is limited view, Peter F. Hamilton's Night's Dawn trilogy is omniscient.

@sejintenej

Bill Murray apparently has a similar book called "Making Out in Japanese" which he used when filming Lost in Translation, though he was specifically using it for comic effect. In one of his anecdotes he said they'd go out for sushi where he'd look the chef right in the eyes and politely ask: "Do you mind if I use protection?". Apparently everyone loved it, but Bill Murray can probably get away with a lot even in Japan. I doubt that I'd try that.

I never had the intense training that you did, unfortunately. I mostly relied on memorising a few basic phrases phonetically. There seem to be a few sounds that I either can't hear or can't make (the "dz" in Russian, one of the sounds in Cambodian, etc.), but I have a good enough memory that I can still swear in one of the Ghanaian languages, and can flirt a bit in Tagalog. Neither is particularly useful to me today.

Dominions Son

@Dicrostonyx

I would suggest, rather, that the average person knows their height as it was the last time it was measured, which was very likely for their first driver's license. Most people don't have big growth spurts later in life, but height does vary to a small degree based on a number of factors.


Unless you have significant spinal compression which doesn't usually develop until much later in life, it's highly unlikely that your adult height will vary by more than +/- 1 inch.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

The average bra cup size in the US has increased significantly in the last few decades. I have seen both academic researchers and industry insiders saying that the cause is not that women's breasts are getting bigger, but because more women are buying better fit bras, a smaller band size with a larger cup size.

More typically, women's breasts swell and shrink with amazing frequency (like every time they have a period, get pregnant, exercise or gain weight). As such, many women who were once fit, will often be wearing the improper size over time.

Crumbly Writer

@Dicrostonyx

As for clothing, unless you're wearing a high-end suit or evening gown, for which you'll be measured at the time, North American sizes are not particularly accurate.

Not only aren't they accurate, but they vary widely by manufacturer/designer. Often, they'll vary by a couple sizes (women's sizes, that is, not inches or millimeters).

Also, as far as 'not having growth spurts', most people lose height as they age and gravity begins to take it's toll. That's why astronauts often gain a couple inches during space flights. And yes, DS is right, it typically only accounts for an inch or two, rather than three or four.

Replies:   Dicrostonyx
Dicrostonyx

@Crumbly Writer

And yes, DS is right, it typically only accounts for an inch or two, rather than three or four.


Oh, certainly, I'm not saying that it is a huge difference, though there are several factors which most people don't consider, just that taken as a whole a person's apparent height due to a combination of shrinkage, slouching, and daily change (which is about 1cm or 1/2 an inch between waking up and going to bed) means that the height as listed on a driver's license is not the same as the visible height when someone walks into a room.

It's basically a separate but similar problem with giving a precise height: is it the person's actual height or their apparent one?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Dicrostonyx

which is about 1cm or 1/2 an inch between waking up and going to bed


And what I said is that most adults know their height to the nearest inch. That half inch variance doesn't contradict that.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

And what I said is that most adults know their height to the nearest inch. That half inch variance doesn't contradict that.

How often do you take in someone's shoes when appraising their stature? Do you account for the rough night they've had, or the fact they've been working 12-hour days for the last two weeks? There are more obvious things besides shrinkage. Bone loss is a classic one, for the older set.

The point, as has already been made, is that few people are counters, listing actual measurements when they first meet someone and comparing it to everyone else they meet. Thus descriptions of statistics make for very poor storytelling, unless it's a kink, like a love of humongous breasts or huge dicks, in which case bigger is always better!

Dicrostonyx
Updated:

@Dominions Son


And what I said is that most adults know their height to the nearest inch. That half inch variance doesn't contradict that.


Yes, you are correct DS, nothing that I have said contradicts your measurement. I was not arguing with you in any way, nor did I intend to give that impression. I mostly use quotes so that it isn't necessary to re-read twenty previous messages to understand a response.

What I am saying, and what I believe that @Crumbly Writer and @Ernest Bywater are also saying, is that differences of a few inches are pretty small conceptually. Yes, a difference of just an inch or two is often visible, but that's due to a trick of perception. Most people do not really look at other people and think "she's 5'2" tall and 120lb", they think "she's kind of short, but she's got curves in all the right places".

There's a really great exchange in the first episode of NCIS. After taking a bunch of photos, the agent starts making measurements for sketches. When asked about it, he picks up a magazine with a bikini-clad model on the cover and asks:


Can you tell if she's (looks at magazine) 5'4" in a 35-C, or 5'7" in a 36-D? You can't, not from a photo. That's why we do sketches, take measurements.


There are additional factors. Because humans try to look each other in the face, we tend to "tune out" the lower body. As a result, size differences look bigger than they actually are, because two people standing next to each other are mostly compared from the waist up.

Also, many people have only a vague idea of precisely how big inches and feet are. They know the definition, certainly, and the sizes of a few specific items, but if you ask someone to show or draw a specific length, most people will have trouble unless they have a job which trains that skill. A carpenter, for example, might be able to eyeball lengths of wood.

In any case, if you want to use specific heights in your stories, feel free. For myself, I find that reading specific heights and weights takes me out of the story. At the very least, I'll pause while I try to visualise the character; that process is much easier with a vague description. Too many unnecessarily specific details will take me out of the story entirely, unless there's a good in-universe reason for the detail.

There's also another problem with giving exact heights, especially with ongoing serials of multi-part stories: it's much harder to catch mistakes. If a character shifts from being shorter than the protagonist to taller, an editor should catch it. If they change from being 5'4" to 5'6", that's pretty easy to miss if it has been 100 pages, but I can almost guarantee that at least one reader will notice and be bugged by it. There are NYT best sellers which have these sorts of mistakes over the course of several books in a series.

Replies:   Dominions Son
sejintenej
Updated:

@Dicrostonyx


There seem to be a few sounds that I either can't hear or can't make (the "dz" in Russian, one of the sounds in Cambodian, etc.),


I have heard it said that a child's mouth is formed by the age of six. Some professionals seem to overcome it (though I have heard terrible mispronunciation from one or two opera singers) There are the basic differences between speaking from the front of the mouth and the back (which can be copied easily enough) but specific sounds, you are right. My big problem is the rolled double r such as ferrocarril in Castelleño

as for swearing in Akan - forgotten it all

Dominions Son

@Dicrostonyx

Most people do not really look at other people and think "she's 5'2" tall and 120lb", they think "she's kind of short, but she's got curves in all the right places".


Judging height at a distance is difficult. But for close encounters I would be willing to bet that more people than you think would think along the lines of "she's (some measurement be it a physical reference such as a head or a hand's width or a number of inches/centimeters) taller/shorter than me"

graybyrd

"All chatter ceased when she entered the room. Her smile, her hair, her blazing eyes, all atop a stunning 16 hands; a delectable 10 stones of feminine perfection."

Crumbly Writer

@graybyrd

a stunning 16 hands; a delectable 10 stones of feminine perfection

16 hands? Sounds like you're describing an anemic horse!

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

A hand is 4 inches. 16 hands woudl be 5 feet, 4 inches. That is a perfectly respectable size for a horse, or a young lady. Neither would be anemic. Which is a problem involving a deficiency of red biood cells, rather than a height problem.

If the discussion were of John Henry, it would be 16 tons, loading of. Another day older and deeper in debt.

Replies:   tppm  Crumbly Writer
tppm

@richardshagrin

That only covers half the unfamiliar (outside the UK) units. You'd have far more readers understanding you if you said 5'4", 140 lbs.

The only place I've heard "hands" as a unit of measurement is in relation to horses.

Replies:   Dominions Son  Capt Zapp
Dominions Son
Updated:

@tppm


That is a perfectly respectable size for a horse, or a young lady. Neither would be anemic.


Yes for the height, but 10 stone would be seriously under weight for a horse, or at least for a 16 hand horse. Miniature horses might be as light as 10 stone, but they would only be around 9 hands.

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

Neither would be anemic.

I was referring to the 10 stones. For a horse, it would be incredibly sickly at that weight. But I guess anemic is the wrong term. Those severely underweight typically develop anemia, but they're actually separate medical issues.

@tppm

That only covers half the unfamiliar (outside the UK) units. You'd have far more readers understanding you if you said 5'4", 140 lbs.

I understood both the hands and stone references, translating them immediately. My point was that the reference was surprising, leading to the 'horsey face' analogy. Specifying hands and stones is simply a reference out of context to most stories. But, I assume, that was the point of the comment.

Capt Zapp

@tppm

That only covers half the unfamiliar (outside the UK) units.


What are the other units?

Replies:   sejintenej  Dominions Son  tppm
Ernest Bywater

@graybyrd

Her smile, her hair, her blazing eyes, all atop a stunning 16 hands;

Did she have 16 arms as well, or did she have multiple hands per each arm?

Replies:   graybyrd
sejintenej
Updated:

@Capt Zapp


tppm

That only covers half the unfamiliar (outside the UK) units.

What are the other units?


off the top of my head

carats (precious stones)

rods (area)

poles (area)

perches (area)

bakers dozens (13)

gross (144)

guineas (money)

score (20)

leagues (distance)

knot (speed and distance)

troy ounces (weight)

for a start

Capt Zapp

@sejintenej

Interesting. I have heard of many of those. Some day I'll have to research others, just out of curiosity.

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@Capt Zapp

Plus the potential for confusion with
ton
pint
gallon

all of which are different quantities in the USA to elsewhere.
I assume that publications like vehicle specifications and cookery books are adjusted when reproduced overseas, but it does cause confusion when trying to persuade a wife to prepare a meal using an imported cookbook.....though tons aren't relevant unless you have a large family.

(14lb to a stone, 8st to a hundredweight, 20cwt to a ton - making an imperial ton 2240lb).

Replies:   sejintenej
Dominions Son

@Capt Zapp


What are the other units?


Stones. Stones is a unit of weight that has been used in the UK. 1 stone is ~20 pounds IIRC.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Dominions Son
Updated:

@sejintenej


rods (area)

poles (area)

perches (area)


Rods poles and perches are surveyor units, but they are length/distance units not not area units. 1 rod = 5 1/2 yards. Rods poles and perches are all interchangeable terms for the same unit.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_%28unit%29

An acre (a unit of area) is 160 square rods.

Dominions Son

@sejintenej

gross (144)


To pick a nit, the definition of gross (which is a number name, not a unit of measurement) is 12 dozen.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@sejintenej

troy ounces (weight)


There are also troy pounds. Troy weight is generally what is used for precious metals, gold, silver, etc.

The interesting thing is that a Troy pound is 0.8 standard pounds but the troy ounce is larger than the standard ounce since the troy weight system uses a 12 ounce to the pound rather than the 16 ounces to the pound in the standard system.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

To pick a nit

And isn't that what we're all here for? Hell, we'd hardly have any discussions here if it wasn't for those scratchy devils!

sejintenej
Updated:

@ustourist


I assume that publications like vehicle specifications and cookery books are adjusted when reproduced overseas,


Just looked through those of my cookery books of foreign origin but translated into English where needed:

Keller (The French Laundry, CA) two books published New York - American measures but none which differ from UK but ARE different to Australian spoon measures

Escoffier: UK translation 1907 converted to UK measures

Escoffier: 1965 translation English measures with US in brackets (yes - I just double checked that!)

Ferran Adria, Spanish English translation: European metric

Paul Bocuse: UK translation ca 1978 European metric with UK measures in brackets

Coco - a collection from around the world - European metric

le Creuset (UK translation from French, 1997)) European metric with UK in brackets plus conversion table UK, Australian and USA incl many cup measures for selected ingredients.


it does cause confusion when trying to persuade a wife to prepare a meal using an imported cookbook


No. I don't think so. Cup measures and spoon measures are commonly available here in the UK and modern scales all cover metric and old UK measures. The risk is where two different measures are published such as le Creuset- you MUST choose one or the other and not mix them.

ustourist

@sejintenej

No. I don't think so. Cup measures and spoon measures are commonly available here in the UK and modern scales all cover metric and old UK measures.

Products like Bisto and Birds Custard Powder which are easier (and sometimes cheaper) to obtain direct from the UK contain instructions for making a pint or half pint. Where they are available in the USA I think they are all imports with unchanged labels as well, but am not certain. There is a .ml notation but when it says 4 heaped teaspoons to 1/2 pint, she worked with what she knew - and following the instructions using a pint measure in the US does make for slightly thicker consistency.
I can assure you it caused her confusion! :0)
I was the one who suffered, though cutting gravy is quite easy.

Replies:   sejintenej
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Stones is a unit of weight that has been used in the UK


stone is and old imperial measure of weight of 14 pounds

tppm
Updated:

@Capt Zapp


What are the other units?


I was only referring to that quote, in which only two units are used, "hands" and "stone". I suppose converting them to centimeters and kilograms would be more inclusive then to feet and inches and pounds, but I'm American and equally parochial in my own way.

@sejintenej

Are guineas (1 pound 1 shilling) still used since the pound was decimalized.

Replies:   sejintenej
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

stone is and old imperial measure of weight of 14 pounds


Does it have sub units of rocks and pebbles?

Dicrostonyx

The big difference between cookbooks in the UK versus North America is not the difference between American, Imperial, and metric measures -- that's just a matter of buying measuring cups wherever you live. The actual issue is that it is still standard in the UK to use weights for ingredients; in North America recipes are by volume (eg, 1 cup of flour rather than 120 grams or 4 ounces).

Generally speaking, the word "ton" is not a source of confusion as it refers only to the US "short ton". The metric unit is spelled "tonne", and is slightly smaller than a US "long ton".

Even within the metric system, there are some differences in usage between the UK and Canada. For example, a standard size bottle of hard liquor in Canada is 750 mL (around 25 oz.); in the UK a bottle is the same size, but is usually labelled as 75 cL -- centilitres (1/100) rather than millilitres (1/1000). Canada also generally uses US sizes for most food packaging with metric labels, while the UK and Europe have shifter to metric sizes, although the UK does still use pints for beer.

@tppm
I know the word guinea is still used in horse racing, but that's an archaic holdover. I've also occasionally heard the term used elsewhere, but I assume that like ha'penny and tuppence it's more of a colloquial term these days, rather than an actual unit of currency. Of course, my knowledge of the subject is based on UK TV, conversational usage might be different.

Dominions Son

@Dicrostonyx

Generally speaking, the word "ton" is not a source of confusion as it refers only to the US "short ton". The metric unit is spelled "tonne", and is slightly smaller than a US "long ton".


"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_ton"

Acutally, the short ton is US, but the long ton is pre-metric UK.

And as for the tonne in the US this is generally called a metric ton.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Dominions Son

Canada also generally uses US sizes for most food packaging with metric labels, while the UK and Europe have shifter to metric sizes, although the UK does still use pints for beer.


The US is shifting towards metric at least in the beverage market. A decade ago, most soda/water bottles in the US were 16 or 20 fluid ounces, but now many (particularly bottled water) are shifting to 0.5 liters.

Crumbly Writer

@sejintenej

cookery books

Cookery books? Is that a Aussie term? Here in America, they're known as "cook books". That's like calling novels "readery books". 'D

Replies:   ustourist  sejintenej  tppm
ustourist

@Crumbly Writer

Cookery books is an English language term, not to be confused with cooking the books, which I believe is more of an American habit. :D

sejintenej

@tppm

@sejintenej

Are guineas (1 pound 1 shilling) still used since the pound was decimalized.

I believe they are still the unit at auctions for racehorses but of course the man-in-the-street would not know them.. There is also a horserace called the 1000guineas for which I assume the prize used to be 1000 guineas

sejintenej
Updated:

@ustourist


There is a .ml notation but when it says 4 heaped teaspoons to 1/2 pint, she worked with what she knew - and following the instructions using a pint measure in the US does make for slightly thicker consistency


When I checked the table showed teaspoons a being the same (Australian are smaller I think)but as you have smaller gallons perhaps it is your pints which are also smaller.

Replies:   ustourist
sejintenej

@Ernest Bywater

I know my weight in stones and pounds but not in kilos- I'm just old fashioned that way .
I cook using metric weights because they are easier to use.
I measure in either measure because even now things could be expressed in either.

sejintenej

@Crumbly Writer

Cookery books? Is that a Aussie term? Here in America, they're known as "cook books". That's like calling novels "readery books". 'D


It's cookery books in the UK where we also have rookeries

sejintenej
Updated:

@Dicrostonyx


@tppm

but I assume that like ha'penny and tuppence it's more of a colloquial term these days, rather than an actual unit of currency. Of course, my knowledge of the subject is based on UK TV, conversational usage might be different.


With decimalisation the old names have died out because the coins no longer exist - we don't have tanners (6d), bobs (12p or 1 shilling), half crowns (2/6d) any longer. We do have one new penny coins but I haven't heard them called coppers (the name for the old 1d)and we do have 2p coins ( tuppence is simply two pence spoken fast)

A grand is I think £1000 and I guess a pony is £100(I never use the pony slang so I'm not sure)

(the old small coins were pence but we used the abbreviation "d" for denarii (Latin) - I don't know why)

ustourist

@sejintenej

The Imperial pint is 20 fl oz, compared with the US pint which is 16 fl oz, so both the pint and gallon are 25% more in the UK than in the US.
Although US based now, I still think in imperial measures as I was educated long before the metrification of the UK. Like you, I still know my weight in stones and pounds, not kilos, but also still use inches and Fahrenheit as the alternatives aren't generally understood on the west side of the pond.
When metrification was first introduced in the UK I was working in the timber industry and one of the first changes was selling 2"x4" timber in 3 metre lengths. That obviously made everyone happy. :0)

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@ustourist

When metrification was first introduced in the UK I was working in the timber industry and one of the first changes was selling 2"x4" timber in 3 metre lengths. That obviously made everyone happy. :0)


and the reason for that was because the wood is always cut just a bit longer to avoid legal action for being a half inch short. And the difference in length between a 10 foot length and a 3 metre length is the 3 metres is about half an inch shorter, so they just kept cutting how they were and relabeled the suckers. Next was the 6 footers all became 1.8 m by a simple change of label.

The same thing happened down here when we went metric in Australia - currency changed in 1966 and the rest changed about 6 years later.

richardshagrin

I am reasonably sure in the USA a 2 by 4 is no longer two inches by four inches. Its less, of course. Last time I heard, a long, long time ago, its more like one and a half inches by 3 and a quarter inches. Something like that. It saved the mills money not to have to provide full dimensions, and apparently carpenters got used to the smaller "2 by 4s". I think most dimensional lumber is smaller than the title, although plywood and fiberboard are still four feet by eight feet. Again, the last time I looked into the subject.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

I am reasonably sure in the USA a 2 by 4 is no longer two inches by four inches. Its less, of course.


Back in the 1970s I was taught that wood for carpentry and construction came in two types - dressed and undressed or rough cut, and the sizing was from their undressed / rough cut measurement. Thus a rough cut 2 inch by 4 inch piece of timber was exactly that 2 x 4 inches in cross section, but when they trimmed the four sides to make them smooth and become what they called 'dressed' lumber it took about a quarter of an inch off, and was thus just under the 2 x 4 measurement.

A related oddity is: here in Australia we've been using metric for wood etc. since the early 1970s and the metric equivalent of 2 x 4 inch is 50 mm x 100 mm, which you'll see on the storage bin and invoice, but everyone still calls it a 2 x 4.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Ernest Bywater

Most pornography is made using undressed wood. At least the guys.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

Most pornography is made using undressed wood. At least the guys.

And then there are those who like plane sex!

graybyrd

@Ernest Bywater

Two arms, one hand per arm, and zero tolerance for endless threads of pointless discourse. Blathering idjits not admitted to said lassie's knickers.

tppm

@Crumbly Writer

"Cookery book" is the phrase used in England, and versions of English more recently divergent from the mother language than American. I don't know which version is used in Canada, though I think it's "cook book".

Crumbly Writer

@tppm

"Cookery book" is the phrase used in England, and versions of English more recently divergent from the mother language than American. I don't know which version is used in Canada, though I think it's "cook book".

I guess "cookery" strikes me, as it sounds vaguely dismissive, as in describing a wife's interest in her 'cookery', rather than a chef's interest in the culinary arts. But I guess I'm reading more into it than was intended.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I guess "cookery" strikes me, as it sounds vaguely dismissive, as in describing a wife's interest in her 'cookery', rather than a chef's interest in the culinary arts.


If you really want truth in advertising, they should be called recipe books.

sejintenej

@Dominions Son

I guess "cookery" strikes me, as it sounds vaguely dismissive, as in describing a wife's interest in her 'cookery', rather than a chef's interest in the culinary arts.
If you really want truth in advertising, they should be called recipe books.

Not necessarily.
Thomas Keller (American, The French Laundry) writes about things associated with cuisine like thoughts on freshness etc.
Pellaprat (French, 1012 pages, translated 1967) has sections on drawing up menus (including the eight course (with two choices per course)and fives champagnes for King George VI at Versailles 1938) menus from past dinners), culinary techniques, equipment, how to choose dairy products, wines, nutrition.
Yes, thousands of recipes but it is those "extra" bits which are so fascinating

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@sejintenej

Yes, thousands of recipes but it is those "extra" bits which are so fascinating

As in all writing, it's the details that help bring the writing to life and make it easier to relate to. Readers care about detail, rather than vague generalities (another reason why showing works better than telling).

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

If you really want truth in advertising, they should be called recipe books.


a recipe book simply has the recipe which is the ingredients, how they're prepared, and the order you add them. While a cookery book includes a lot of details about how you prepare the oven, pan etc to do the cooking and a lot more than just the recipe.

Replies:   graybyrd  Dominions Son
graybyrd
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


a cookery book includes a lot of details about how you prepare the oven, pan etc to do the cooking and a lot more than just the recipe.


Ummm ... like, turn on the oven? Grease the pan? That sort of extra preparation?

Here in Corporatist America we still call that a cookbook. Spouse & I have a large collection; most include the sort of detail you mention. Cookbooks, one & all.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

While a cookery book includes a lot of details about how you prepare the oven, pan etc to do the cooking and a lot more than just the recipe.


Except those details can be different for different recipes, and I rather doubt that those details amount to more than 10% of the books content. I'd still call that a recipe book.

Ernest Bywater

@graybyrd

Ummm ... like, turn on the oven? Grease the pan? That sort of extra preparation?


pre-heat the oven to ... - take out when ..... etc

Many cookery books are mislabeled as recipe books.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

pre-heat the oven to ... - take out when ..... etc


Sorry, what temp to cook at, how long, do you need to pre heat the oven is part of an individual recipe and can differ from one recipe to another.

richardshagrin

Don't forget the color pictures of the finished product, often with other recipes that compliment the entrée and form a complete meal. Sometimes even wine suggestions or other beverages that might complete the meal. Portion sizes can be important. Cookbooks for one or two have different recipes than ones for cooking a thanksgiving feast for a dozen or so. If there were not differences, there wouldn't be so many cookbooks, and whole sections of them in some bookstores.

Everybody likes to eat, or has to to stay alive. Like other popular activities, people write books about it. Another popular activity leads to pornography.

solitude

The height of a horse is measured in hands, but at the withers (the base of the neck). So, for consistency, is a woman whose height is 5'4" merely shoulder-high to one who is 16 hands tall?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@solitude

The height of a horse is measured in hands, but at the withers (the base of the neck).


The height of all quadruped animal is measured this way even when measuring in feet/inches or meters. This is done because they can raise an lower their heads through a much broader range while standing. in most cases from above the shoulder to putting their nose on the ground.

Measuring a human's height in hands, you would still do it to the top of the head. because a human can not lower their head below the shoulders while standing.

The Slim Rhino

@aerosick

aerosick, Have you any idea how many reply an author can get? And what do you answer to generic replies like

'Great, please more!"

If I see that someone really put some effort into his feedback, I usually answer, but those one-liners are just pointless. It's the type of feedback that counts. I actually prefer people who explain what they found worthy of criticism - as others just down-vote. A one-liner saying

'cool'

doesn't really say anything.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@The Slim Rhino

And what do you answer to generic replies like

'Great, please more!"


I respond to emails every 4 to 6 weeks or so, and when I do I check for multiple emails from the one person and respond to the lot as one. Also, using a cut and paste general response starts helps too.

Dicrostonyx

@tppm

I don't know which version is used in Canada, though I think it's "cook book".


Yes, in Canada we do generally use the US "cookbook" (one conjoined word). The problem in Canada is that while there is often a preference towards British terms and spellings, the majority of our media comes from the States, so that affects what kids grow up with.

It's not as bad today as it was thirty years ago because changes in filming costs, the growth of the film industry in Canada (due in large part to US companies using Canada as a cheap filming location), and the rise of independent and cable networks has allowed Canadian companies to produce decent content.

The only things that I can recall watching on Canadian TV when I was growing up in the '70s and '80s were some children's shows and a few unedited films. Due to differences in ratings systems, non-sexual nudity was allowed in films on CBC, so pre-internet boys watched a lot of classic films that we didn't really understand in order to get a three second look at a nipple.

My point being that for my generation, pretty much all TV, film, and comics, plus most books and music all came from the US, so the desire for maintaining British language usage is more of a social drag effect slowing down our conversion to American English, rather than a move towards a separate language. Whether that effect is going to speed up or slow down in the future is hard to predict; arguments can be made either way.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Dicrostonyx

Is there influence on a "Canadian" English by the "French" speaking minority, Quebec and similar. I am under the impression Canada is officially bi-lingual. Does that affect how English is learned and spoken? Learning both may challenge immigrants who are not English speakers.

The quotes are around Quebec French because it is somewhat different than say, Parisian French. Dialects develop over time, eh?

Replies:   sejintenej  Dicrostonyx
sejintenej

@richardshagrin

The quotes are around Quebec French because it is somewhat different than say, Parisian French. Dialects develop over time, eh?

They may develop but I think that Parisian French and Quebecois developed from different sources within northern France.

Dicrostonyx
Updated:

@richardshagrin

Outside of Quebec, the French influence is insignificant in most provinces, but it does vary by location. The official status of the two languages mostly means that all federal government offices and communication must provide service in both languages. French language services are often provided at a provincial level as well, but that tends to be more touch and go. In addition, all packaging must have both languages present.

When I was a kid in Manitoba, French lessons in school started around grade 4 (8-9 years old) and was required for graduation. Later, when we moved to British Columbia on the West Coast, I learned that French classes started in grade 8 (12-13 yo) and were only semi-required. For graduation in BC you needed to have a second language at the grade 11 level, but it didn't have to be French. Many international students used their first language to fill that requirement.

In Quebec this is somewhat reversed; school is taught in French, but everyone has mandatory English lessons in school. It is worth noting that in Quebec 80% of the population are native French speakers and 10% are native English, the rest being non-official languages.

Manitoba, in addition to being 3,000 km closer to Quebec than BC is, also has a lot more Francophones than BC. Current demographics are around 13% French origin and 6.4% Métis (mixed race native), so overall that's nearly one-fifth of the population.

As an English Canadian who isn't particularly good at learning languages, my experience with French has mostly been that I know how to pronounce the language reasonably well and I can understand basic vocabulary when reading, but I can't understand spoken French.

Oddly, the dialect issue is actually somewhat odd. As you'd expect, most of the original immigrants were peasants, not Parisians, and came from western regions where French was not always the spoken language. Later immigrants and officials bought differing versions of French to the colony. After the British took over in 1760, the colony was not only separated from France, but there was social pressure to retain their language as it was to prevent the encroachment of English.

The result of those factors is that Canadian French held on to a lot of pronunciations and words that later fell out of use in France. So while Quebecois is certainly a separate dialect from Parisian, it is actually more of a time-capsule of Classical French than it is a new language. There are also a few other French dialects in smaller communities.

Overall, though, I'd say that other than a few words like Métis, and less of a tendency to completely mangle pronunciation as you hear on US TV, for most English Canadians French is just something that you're exposed to in day to day life because of signs and packaging but aren't really aware of.

richardshagrin
Updated:

@Dicrostonyx

Just an observation, and I may be wrong, but based on a few visits to British Columbia, Canadians are far more polite than Americans.

Afterthought: And better drivers.

sejintenej

@Dicrostonyx

The result of those factors is that Canadian French held on to a lot of pronunciations and words that later fell out of use in France. So while Quebecois is certainly a separate dialect from Parisian, it is actually more of a time-capsule of Classical French than it is a new language. There are also a few other French dialects in smaller communities.

French developed from a group of dialects spoken in the northern part of France now called Oïl (which means "yes"). In the south (from the Italian Alps to almost the Atlantic there was a very different group of dialects called "oc" (which also means "yes"). Hence the area and dialect where I go called 'Languedoc' (language of Oc). Catalan (found in Spain and the border country) is one of the dialects. Oc is far far closer to Spanish from which I can decipher most of it.

You say that Quebecois developed from the west of France prior to 1760 - that makes a lot of sense. Modern French came from patois in the Paris area and, although older, was only enforced as French after the revolution much later.

For French readers here is a bit of current Jerrois - a language which is one of the dialand is still the official language in Jersey
Nou peut ouï l'Jèrriais pâlé pustôt à la campangne ou bein tchiquefais en Ville dans l'marchi. I' y'a lé programme Eune Lettre Jèrriaise sus l'radio - BBC Radio Jèrri 88.8FM/1026AM - d'vièrs eune heuthe chîn lé Sanm'di l'arlévée Nou peut liéthe eune articl'ye en Jèrriais dans la gâzette du sé touos les tchînze jours, et un diton châque jour.

I wonder if Quebecois can freely understand it.

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