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Re: To non-native English writers: expunging the solecism "This allows t

From: Mathieu Lirzin
Subject: Re: To non-native English writers: expunging the solecism "This allows to do something."
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 2016 17:31:12 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.5 (gnu/linux)

Hello Alan,

Alan Mackenzie <address@hidden> writes:
> On Tue, 26 Jan 2016, Mathieu Lirzin wrote:
>> As a non-native english speaker, I feel bad when I read such injunctions
>> from you [RMS] or Alan.
> I apologise for this.  My intention was to point out (and fix) a
> common error, so as to make people aware of it.

No problem.  I understand and agree with the objective.

In order to achieve this IMO a message in a mailing list is not
sufficient.  It would be helpful to have a short documentation
referencing common english mistakes that could arise in change logs or
comments, with the associated correction.  This would complement the GCS
and could be used as a ref-card by non-native english speakers.

>> When stating such thing, it would be nice to acknowledge that it can be
>> difficult to write correct english especially when it isn't your primary
>> language.  Otherwise you feed a power relationship between contributors,
>> which is already strong enough.
> Again, apologies.  I understand the difficulties in writing in a
> foreign language (I'm a native English speaker living in Germany), and
> it is really hard to get exactly right, far harder than making program
> source work correctly.
> Was there anything else about my first post I could have done better,
> so as to avoid the misunderstanding about power relationships?

You did a great job at explaining what the correct rule is.  However IMO
it would have been better to avoid using CAPS-LOCK or saying that you
were irritated.  OTOH when reading your first email, I have considered
that correcting mistakes made by others was not fun which allowed “you”
to grumble.  ;)

What made me react, was the resonance effect following it.

>> What about creating some documentation about common english mistakes to
>> avoid, instead of urging people to not make them?  How would you feel if
>> the same injuctions were made about correctly using Git or anything you
>> are not comfortable at?
> Well, I have quite often asked for help with git and have been
> grateful for the help offered.  I think (or I hope), that if my
> written German were criticised the way I criticised "allows to ...", I
> would accept the corrections and try to write Geman better in the
> future.

Ideally this is the expected reaction. but when several skilled people
converge on the idea that these mistakes should not be done without
using oratorical cautions, others can be refrained from trying to

Thanks for taking the time to answer.

Mathieu Lirzin

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