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bug#23746: 25.0.95; Doc fixes (grammar, typos, clarification)


From: Stephen Berman
Subject: bug#23746: 25.0.95; Doc fixes (grammar, typos, clarification)
Date: Mon, 13 Jun 2016 11:20:43 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/25.0.95 (gnu/linux)

On Mon, 13 Jun 2016 07:04:58 +0300 Eli Zaretskii <address@hidden> wrote:

> Anyway, which part(s) are grammatically incorrect, and why?  The

Since I proposed the changes, I will try to explain why.

> changes in question modified at least 3 different parts, all of them
> seem to be stylistic changes.  I wonder why stylistic matters should
> cause this amount of bike-shedding.

Here is the relevent diff again, with the three parts in question
underlined:

   @@ -1382,12 +1382,13 @@ Process Buffers
    @end defun
    
    If the process's buffer is displayed in a window, your Lisp program
   -may wish telling the process the dimensions of that window, so that
        ^^^^^^^^^^^^
   -the process could adapt its output to those dimensions, much as it
                ^^^^^
   -adapts to the screen dimensions.  The following functions allow to
                                                              ^^^^^^^^
   -communicate this kind of information to processes; however, not all
    ^^^^^^^^^^^
   -systems support the underlying functionality, so it is best to provide
   -fallbacks, e.g., via command-line arguments or environment variables.
   +may wish to tell the process the dimensions of that window, so that
        ^^^^^^^^^^^^
   +the process can adapt its output to those dimensions, much as it
                ^^^
   +adapts to the screen dimensions.  The following functions allow your
                                                              ^^^^^^^^^^
   +program to communicate this kind of information to processes; however,
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
   +not all systems support the underlying functionality, so it is best to
   +provide fallbacks, e.g., via command-line arguments or environment
   +variables.

The line between grammaticality and stylistic variation isn't always
clearcut, but I think there would be little or no disagreement among
native speakers of the most widely spoken dialects of English (there may
be dialects that differ, though I am not aware of any) regarding at
least two of the three underlined parts above: "wish" and "allow" can
both occur with non-finite clausal complements, but with differences:
"wish" can occur only with a "to"-infinitive, usually without a subject,
as in "I wish to go" but possibly also with one, as in "I wish you to
go" or "I wish for you to go" (to me, the first sounds rather formal or
archaic, the second sounds colloquial but possibly non-standard); in
contrast, an "-ing" complement (with or without a subject), as in "I
wish (you) going" is unacceptable.  "Allow" can occur with a
"to"-infinitive, but then only with a subject, as in "I allowed you to
go" but not "I allowed to go" (unless the complement is passivized, as
in "We were allowed to go"); in some cases a subjectless "-ing"
complement is possible, as in "the header line allows sorting entries by
clicking on column headers", where the understood subject of "sorting"
is nonspecific, e.g., people in general, not some particular individual:
"I allowed John going" is unacceptable (there may be some dialectal
variation about this, but I'm not sure).  These differences are
grammatical in the sense that native speakers by and large agree on
what's "right" and "wrong", regardless of context or stylistic register
(though, again, there are gray areas).
  
As for my suggestion to use "can" instead of "could", I suspect there
may be less agreement about that: both entail possibility, but in the
above context "can" sounds more natural (or appropriate) to me due to
the present tense of the whole sentence, in contrast to the following:
"If your program told the process the dimensions of the window, the
process could adapt its output to those dimensions".  But I think many
native speakers would find either form perfectly acceptable in the above
context.

Steve Berman





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