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The Emperor's New Clothes Effect Options
raymondaliasapollyon
Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2021 1:37:16 AM
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If you, a language learner, suspect that a famous yet old work contains an error or some outdated usage, is it a good idea to reveal the source to a native speaker while asking them about it? Are they liable to blindly approving of what's written in that work and saying it's correct by contemporary standards, when in fact the usage is wrong or unlikely in the current language?

I've noticed that when I ask some native speakers whether a particular dubious sentence by a respected writer is correct, they tend to claim it is so. But if instead I present a sentence similar to that writer's in crucial respects first, they will reject it. After I reveal to them that the writer's sentence suffers from the same problem, they will start to rationalize it. This is a manifestation of what I call the Emperor's New Clothes Effect, and clearly detracts from the reliability of replies that learners would receive. As a learner, how would you avoid this problem?
FounDit
Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2021 11:12:42 AM

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raymondaliasapollyon wrote:
If you, a language learner, suspect that a famous yet old work contains an error or some outdated usage, is it a good idea to reveal the source to a native speaker while asking them about it? Are they liable to blindly approving of what's written in that work and saying it's correct by contemporary standards, when in fact the usage is wrong or unlikely in the current language?

I've noticed that when I ask some native speakers whether a particular dubious sentence by a respected writer is correct, they tend to claim it is so. But if instead I present a sentence similar to that writer's in crucial respects first, they will reject it. After I reveal to them that the writer's sentence suffers from the same problem, they will start to rationalize it. This is a manifestation of what I call the Emperor's New Clothes Effect, and clearly detracts from the reliability of replies that learners would receive. As a learner, how would you avoid this problem?


I would accept the idea that the writing in the original was fine, was approved by editors at that time and found acceptable. The fact that the language has evolved since that time is really of little negative consequence. Learning how people used to speak, and learning how they speak today gives you a broader, more comprehensive vocabulary and ability to express yourself. Many of us grew up reading the classics of earlier times and obtained great benefit from it.

Today, however, many have adopted a self-conferred authority to dictate what words people should or should not use. No one has that authority, at least not until the whole of society agrees with it. That is the only authority - WE the people, not some political group. Be open to learning from classical as well as modern sources, but with modern sources, be a bit wary and learn with a critical eye.
Romany
Posted: Monday, January 18, 2021 8:08:43 AM
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Foundit is perfectly correct in saying that the process involved in publishing before the electronic age was specifically centred around ensuring that no mistakes got through. When these works were published they were scrutinised minutely by everyone from the editors, publishers, and type-setters, to the public at large.

Being accepted as part of the Canon of English Literature ensures excellence in writing - which includes grammar, syntax, vocabulary, punctuation. It's the highest order of writing there is. These are the books we lay before the world to say "Here. Here are the giants of Literature. Here are those whose work epitomises the accuracy, wit, skill, knowledge, beauty of what can be done with the English language." Our very reputation in the field of Classic Literature depends upon these works: it's utterly inconceivable that we should lay them before the world riddled with errors, typos, bad English.

It's beyond unrealistic to expect that we have been doing so for centuries, but that it's not until one person, who is learning English as a second language, comes along and points out mistakes that millions of the finest, most knowledgeable minds in the world have never noticed; that we discover our entire academic system is faulty and we've been using our own language incorrectly.

People are fallible however, and every once in an historical while, an error has slipped through. When this happens - as in the case of Shakespeare's "Bad Folio" - all the copies are recalled immediately, the type-setters correct the error and send the 'perfect copy' out in exchange. (Which then ensures that any extant copy of the "bad text" are few and far between and are worth thousands of pounds a few centuries later!)

As FD said, we don't approach canonical literature looking for bad writing - we approach it with humility; knowing its value as the best way to utilise language; we approach it to learn. We accept that if we find something weird it is our lack of knowledge, not the writers, which is the problem. Schools provide them to students down through the ages with the confidence that the work studied is something to emulate - not something riddled with mistakes and bad writing.

The Canon takes us back to the beginning of English and on through the many ways in which English was changing, providing the best works from each period so that students can trace the emergence of English as we speak it now.

If you take lines from ANY work written more than 20 years ago and present them out of context there's no doubt there'll be words no longer used, or whose meaning has changed, or forgotten idioms, or ways of saying things that have gone out of fashion. When you present works from hundreds of years ago you're in a completely different English world. The language has changed so much that many people don't even understand it: the reason many people never read any classic literature: they find it difficult and boring.

So if you, as a learner, "suspect that a famous yet old work contains an error" I would say that your suspicion is utterly groundless. To understand what The Canon represents to the English-speaking world, perhaps it might help if you did some research yourself - as a student - about the Canon of English Literature? To understand why it exists, what it's composed of, why it stands, what its purpose is.

ps As regards finding mistakes in Mary Shelley's work? I explained to you once before that, knowing who she was and who her parents were, and who her husband and friends were, the idea of a work of hers being published in bad English is ludicrous. Have you spent any time finding out about who they were?What they did for English Literature? How they thought? Their revolutionary principles? The Literature they introduced? The way they changed English poetry?

Besides all that, she was a woman - writing in a time when women were not considered knowledgeable enough to write books. Her book was something everyone, at that time, WOULD have approached specifically looking for errors: it would have been picked apart by the entire reading public who wanted to prove that women were incompetent. If any work was minutely dissected, discussed, pored over, argued about,and painstakingly polished up, it was Frankenstein's Monster - with the greatest living Giants of Literature assessing it: Mary's family & friends! She could not afford to make mistakes. Not just her reputation, but the reputation of the whole Romantic Movement would have been ruined if she couldn't express herself accurately.
raymondaliasapollyon
Posted: Monday, January 18, 2021 10:18:07 AM
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I have more than once been told by native speakers that her English is not a good model of 19th-century English. (For example, see the comments by a user named Lewis here ). Her use of "otherwise" may not have been wrong. While giving her the benefit of the doubt is fair, I consider it necessary too to examine other writers' work to see whether using the sequence "otherwise + non-participial adjective" without a contrast was common at that time.

There are quit a few dubious (in my opinion, anyway) sentences in Shelley's book. I'll cite a few relatively simple ones for the sake of discussion:


In rather a too philosophical and connected a strain, perhaps, I have given an account of the conclusions I had come to concerning them in my early years.



If her editors, publishers, and typesetters all proofread the manuscript before it went into print, I'd like to know how the two indefinite articles came to be used. If this was standard usage of the time, I'd like to see others use articles that way.


The following strike me as odd too:


But these philosophers, whose hands seem only made to dabble in dirt, and their eyes to pore over the microscope or crucible, have indeed performed miracles.


They had left to us, as an easier task, to give new names, and arrange in connected classifications, the facts which they in a great degree had been the instruments of bringing to light.


Was the possessive "their" in the former correctly used in similar contexts at that time by others as well? I'd suppose the preceding relative word "whose" called for another relative word for the sake of parallelism. Alternatively, I might have expected "with their eyes to pore" instead of "and their eyes to pore." But these are my mere speculations, and I'm eager to see how others of her time wrote in such contexts.

In the latter sentence, I'd expect to see a dummy "it" inserted right after "left" to match the infinitival phrase functioning as the real subject. Again, I'm curious about how other 19th-century writers would have written such sentences.

The above is meant as a brief illustration of what I find odd about Shelley's writing, but the thread was about my observation that some native speakers believe classical writers' grammar or word usage is still valid today.


BobShilling
Posted: Monday, January 18, 2021 10:20:48 AM
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I have to say that I find the idea that every work in the Canon of English Literature is so magnificently perfect that no-one, particularly a learner, should have the temerity to question it quite amusing.
Romany
Posted: Monday, January 18, 2021 12:47:47 PM
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Ah well, then we differ, don't we?
BobShilling
Posted: Monday, January 18, 2021 3:07:21 PM
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We do indeed. I don't think i have ever approached a book, poem or play with humility.
Hope123
Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2021 12:33:47 AM

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Hi Raymond,

Good for you that your learning is far past contemporary English so that you can compare that to writers from days of yore.

Words evolve daily. Have you checked etymology and time periods of usage of the word? They may give you the examples you are looking for. (Why is this important to you anyhow, if I may be so bold as to ask? This was already hashed out on the Google link you posted so I wondered why you brought it here.)

I didn't know why you had even done two threads on the same subject until I saw this third thread complaining (yes it was) that native speakers always say a famous author is correct but change that opinion when the quote is not attributed.

FounDit put paid to that little test because he said even the sentence not attributed was correct as well as the attributed one.

Do you have other examples of this phenomena on the Forum to prove native speakers are running around naked? Whistle (emoji means 'tongue-in-cheek')

Several people on the Forum are English grammar experts and even teach it but I know of only one published writer on the Forum. There could be more. Many are simply volunteer native speakers interested in language or in helping learners with grammar or vocabulary and doing our best with our opinions and interpretations. It was pointed out several times that her work is dated and not contemporary. Unless one is an expert in literature of that time period, we would not know the examples you want and would have to search ourselves to find them.

I have not read Shelley's work and thus cannot comment on her proficiency but as for the other changes you would like to make to Shelley's work, that is her style as an artist. She is not you. I found no grammatical errors in the sentences provided.

'A' used twice could be for emphasis. Why must she repeat 'whose' instead of 'their eyes'? It is often better to find alternate ways of saying the same things. The word 'it' is not necessary. In fact it 'cheapens' the statement - not quite the word I want but it will do.

To answer the question in the OP - if you have found that this is very often a problem, then don't attribute your question. But do give context.

https://www.presslabs.com/how-to/good-writer/

raymondaliasapollyon
Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2021 5:00:46 AM
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Not everyone is subject to the Emperor's New Clothes Effect. Some are immune from it. Foudit may well belong to the immune group. (It'd be interesting to know why he judged the un-attributed version to be okay, when most people think it's odd. But maybe he saw the attributed, original version first. That's a separate matter, anyway.)

Frank people seem immune from it. Some of them suggested I look for someone else's work, e.g., Jane Austen's, if I want to have a good picture of how 19th-century English was normally used. They think Mary Shelley's work has been overrated.

To test whether a certain feature is considered correct, I usually make up a sentence that retains the disputed features and present it to others for judgment. The results will be different than if I present the original instead. For someone inquiring into the structural aspects of the language, the latter course of action is hardly useful for the aforementioned effect. Some get pissed off when they are, after they judge the rewritten version to be wrong, shown the prestigious version and realize that the two versions are identical in crucial respects. I've even been accused of being unethical!

Others try to explain away the anomalies in various ways. They might say a particular use is "artistic license," but cannot pin down its purpose. If the same features occur elsewhere, e.g., on a student's exam, chances are they'll lose points. Although you think the use of double indefinite articles is for emphasis, I doubt teachers will let their students write that way. Some frank people flatly dismiss it as an error. As for the "their eyes" sentence, its rewritten version has been judged wrong here.
As far as the "left to us" sentence is concerned, both a Brit and an American say they'd use "it," in keeping with the patterns found in the relevant entry in dictionaries. You may want to ask yourself whether your comments on those sentences would have been the same if the rewritten versions had been presented to you instead.
BobShilling
Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2021 6:20:39 AM
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raymondaliasapollyon wrote:
Some get pissed off


I am not surprised.

If you genuinely want to find out if a certain phrase or word was used appropriately at some time in the past and/or if it is still used that way today, then you should present all the evidence you have with your question.

To ask about something you have re-written and, when you have received a response, reveal something similar that some well-known writer in the past had written, and then challenge the member who gave the original response to justify that response makes it look very much as though you are trying to catch people out.

We are volunteers here, giving up some of our free time to help people with their English. We don't appreciate having our time wasted with that sort of thing.
raymondaliasapollyon
Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2021 6:28:34 AM
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BobShilling wrote:
raymondaliasapollyon wrote:
Some get pissed off


I am not surprised.

If you genuinely want to find out if a certain phrase or word was used appropriately at some time in the past and/or if it is still used that way today, then you should present all the evidence you have with your question.

To ask about something you have re-written and, when you have received a response, reveal something similar that some well-known writer in the past had written, and then challenge the member who gave the original response to justify that response makes it look very much as though you are trying to catch people out.

We are volunteers here, giving up some of our free time to help people with their English. We don't appreciate having our time wasted with that sort of thing.



But you know how important it is for linguists to elicit reliable data that truly reflects how a person uses a language? How can one present all the evidence and at the same time avoid the Emperor's New Clothes Effect?


We sometimes disagree among ourselves and/or with renowned writers, but we don't really mind. Diachronic, synchronic, dialectal or idiolectal differences are just natural phenomena.
BobShilling
Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2021 6:49:00 AM
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You could, for example write:

Was Mary Shelley's use of the word 'otherwise' in this sentence from Frankenstein (1818) correct at the time? .......

Is it correct today? Can I write .........?
raymondaliasapollyon
Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2021 7:24:16 AM
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BobShilling wrote:
You could, for example write:

Was Mary Shelley's use of the word 'otherwise' in this sentence from Frankenstein (1818) correct at the time? .......

Is it correct today? Can I write .........?



Once you reveal the author's identity, the original sentence, and the rewritten version, the other person might be cued up to accept the made-up sentence, even if it isn't entirely natural in the current language. The judgment so obtained won't be reliable.
Hope123
Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2021 9:16:59 AM

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The sentence you used purporting to be contemporary to catch people out still used the old-fashioned word 'delirium'. It was so similar as to be the same question. A "no no" in the rules. Rationalizing why FD said as he did does not remove the fact that your conclusion to your "test" was wrong.

I don't care how many "literate" people say what Shelley wrote was wrong. My opinion as a native speaker is worth as much as theirs or - yours. Authors are allowed a style. Read something else if you don't like hers. It seems your motivation to read is not to learn as a learner but as a critic.

I judged those sentences by how it was understood and how it read, not by the author. Your changes did not improve it one single bit.

A gentle piece of advice - if you wish people to continue to converse here about your passion, you'd do better to stop with the condescending tone and accept what we are able to offer. Or take your questions to what you consider to be more learned circles.

BobShilling
Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2021 9:26:02 AM
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Hope123 wrote:
A gentle piece of advice - if you wish people to continue to converse here about your passion, you'd do better to stop with the condescending tone and accept what we are able to offer. Or take your questions to what you consider to be more learned circles.



Applause Applause Applause
raymondaliasapollyon
Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2021 9:32:31 AM
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well, "delirium" isn't an old-fashioned word according to all major dictionaries, for learners or native speakers. It may be a learned word, though. Or it may be old-fashioned to you. Foundit's reaction by no means disproved the test, as the Emperor's New Clothes Effect has never had everyone under its scope in the first place. Some are subject to it; others are immune from it. Why do you think an individual could disprove a hypothesis when it is never meant to be across the board?

And yes, the made-up "delirium" sentence is similar to the original, but that only makes the point even clearer: a person who has seen the original sentence may be influenced by it, thus rendering the judgment of a later (and similar) sentence less than useful.


I am not being condescending; rather, I'm being practical and not mealy-mouthed, like any other frank person you've met online. We could run the the same judgment tests on more unknowing people and compare their judgments with yours. If the difference is significant, you'll know the effect is there, yet it is not always a conscious thing.

BobShilling
Posted: Wednesday, January 20, 2021 5:27:43 AM
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raymondaliasapollyon wrote:
I've even been accused of being unethical!

To ask a question in a language forum about a language point with the concealed intention of testing/proving your Emperor's new Clothes Effect theory is deceitful to sat the least.
raymondaliasapollyon
Posted: Wednesday, January 20, 2021 10:00:24 PM
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BobShilling wrote:
raymondaliasapollyon wrote:
I've even been accused of being unethical!

To ask a question in a language forum about a language point with the concealed intention of testing/proving your Emperor's new Clothes Effect theory is deceitful to sat the least.


Not sure if that's deceitful. An act of deceit is intended to make someone believe something that's not true.
Some information was indeed concealed, but that was not meant to make anyone believe anything that's not true.
Have you heard of sociolinguist William Labov's experiment in New York department stores? People supplied information to him as subjects unaware of the experiment.

In my case, the purpose per se is not to test or prove the Emperor's New Clothes Effect, but to investigate how the mind processes certain structures, in a way that is free from the effect, so that the judgments so obtained are as reliable as possible.
Romany
Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2021 5:34:03 AM
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Raymond, Bob's been teaching English for years - probably even before you were born - he knows perfectly well what 'deceitful' means. And he used it with all those years of knowledge behind it.

Native speakers use 'Deceitful' to mean sly, sneaky, insincere, disingenuous,devious.
raymondaliasapollyon
Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2021 5:36:53 AM
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I hope you are not implying William Labov is deceitful.
Hope123
Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2021 10:03:30 AM

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All I know Raymond, is that it ticked me off, especially after I read this thread and its title.

People know when they are volunteering and participating in an experiment and there are ethics involved in those scientific experiments.

What exactly are your motivations for posting on this Forum? Enlighten us please. At least we can now be aware we were unsuspecting guinea pigs.

It is not the way to "win friends and influence people" and get people to discuss what is your passion on a Forum where volunteers try to help those who are learning English, to learn information ourselves, and have a bit of fun and humour doing it.



Plus you post a thread from another forum re 'whose' and 'theirs', give an example where you eliminated Shelley's word "and", and use that as proof she was wrong. After getting an *opinion* by one person on an English thread.

If you really want to set up an experiment do so properly. Stop using anecdotal opinions from "an American and a Brit" who say they go with a usage in "order to keep with a dictionary pattern", eschewing variation that keeps writing interesting, and therefore my opinion is wrong.

Edited: writers who know the rules also know when they can break them.

Moving on.


raymondaliasapollyon
Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2021 10:19:44 AM
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People in Labov's experiment were not aware they were in an experiment, if my memory serves me right.
The rationale is that subjects display authentic performance only when they are unaware of being observed.

As I said, my purpose is to examine some aspects of the language, but to ensure the information I receive is reliable, I have to prevent the Emperor's New Clothes Effect. I bet there are people like me here and in other forums; they're just smart enough to conceal their purpose.

The thread about "and their/whose" in the other forum started with a sentence mirroring Shelley's (with "and"), but I was also considering ways to rewrite/improve it, so I came up with the other versions and asked the people there whether those were correct. What you were talking about was one of the those versions, not the reply to the original sentence in that thread.


FounDit
Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2021 11:14:39 AM

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I’ve been somewhat occupied, and this is my first return to this topic after my last post, and I’m somewhat surprised at what I read.

I didn’t realize when I read your original post that the style of Shelley’s writing seems to have offended you, judging her writing as somehow wrong, and I focused on the last question you asked. I assumed you wondered why some of her writing seemed incorrect by our standards today, and how to avoid feeling that one should judge her writing, as well as her contemporaries, as somehow wrong. So, I focused what you could do to avoid that feeling and didn’t focus on what you see as a fault of native speakers, viz., The Emperor’s New Clothes effect. I will attempt to correct that oversight here.


You posted:
“If you, a language learner, suspect that a famous yet old work contains an error or some outdated usage, is it a good idea to reveal the source to a native speaker while asking them about it? Are they liable to blindly approving of what's written in that work and saying it's correct by contemporary standards, when in fact the usage is wrong or unlikely in the current language?
This would be of consequence only if the native speaker were familiar with the work. However, I suspect that most native speakers are very much aware, if they have read any part of some of our classics, that the language used then is much different in construction, and the words often times carrying meanings we currently don’t use; that awareness of this circumstance convinces them that people of that time spent much more effort in learning vocabulary and sentence construction than we do today. This awareness leads to the response I detail below.

I've noticed that when I ask some native speakers whether a particular dubious sentence by a respected writer is correct, they tend to claim it is so. But if instead I present a sentence similar to that writer's in crucial respects first, they will reject it. After I reveal to them that the writer's sentence suffers from the same problem, they will start to rationalize it. This is a manifestation of what I call the Emperor's New Clothes Effect, and clearly detracts from the reliability of replies that learners would receive. As a learner, how would you avoid this problem?”
I don’t’ see this as an Emperor's New Clothes Effect, so much as the native speaker’s awareness of their own limitations in judging the writing of the classics and assuming, based on the facts just outlined above, that the writing is correct in its usage.

The mistake you are making, as I see it, is that you assume current native speakers are experts on the language, which they most certainly are not. The teaching of English language is always evolving, sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse, depending on the observer’s bias. Even experts disagree on aspects of usage, as the Usage Panel of experts on TFD are revealed to be, with varying opinions that shift in percentages over time.

Judging historical writing by today’s standards is as wrong as judging historical attitudes and events by today’s standards. It should not be done for it always will result in errors in judgment. The past stands as it happened – both good and bad. Today stands in exactly the same way.

If you find an obvious error in historical writing, attribute that to the frequent fact of common human error and move on. It is nothing to be overly concerned about. If, however, you simply find that native speakers are unfamiliar with historical styles of writing, this neither makes the writing suspect, nor the native speaker incorrect by virtue of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” effect. It quite simply could mean the native speaker is more forgiving, can’t properly and/or easily read such writing, or perhaps, is unaware of any error, if it exists, because of these factors. This seems a tempest in a teacup to me.


raymondaliasapollyon
Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2021 11:14:55 AM
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If you really want to have your judgments compared with more people's, then I'd be very glad to comply with your request. But calling their opinions "anecdotal" doesn't make yours non-anecdotal.

What you call variation that keeps writing interesting may not be acceptable to most people.
raymondaliasapollyon
Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2021 12:05:53 PM
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FounDit wrote:
I’ve been somewhat occupied, and this is my first return to this topic after my last post, and I’m somewhat surprised at what I read.

I didn’t realize when I read your original post that the style of Shelley’s writing seems to have offended you, judging her writing as somehow wrong, and I focused on the last question you asked. I assumed you wondered why some of her writing seemed incorrect by our standards today, and how to avoid feeling that one should judge her writing, as well as her contemporaries, as somehow wrong. So, I focused what you could do to avoid that feeling and didn’t focus on what you see as a fault of native speakers, viz., The Emperor’s New Clothes effect. I will attempt to correct that oversight here.


It's not so much that her style has offended me, as that some people assume her use of language is correct, even by contemporary standards.


FounDit wrote:

I don’t’ see this as an Emperor's New Clothes Effect, so much as the native speaker’s awareness of their own limitations in judging the writing of the classics and assuming, based on the facts just outlined above, that the writing is correct in its usage. The mistake you are making, as I see it, is that you assume current native speakers are experts on the language, which they most certainly are not. The teaching of English language is always evolving, sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse, depending on the observer’s bias. Even experts disagree on aspects of usage, as the Usage Panel of experts on TFD are revealed to be, with varying opinions that shift in percentages over time.


I know few native speakers are experts, and it's good for people to be aware of their own limitations when it comes to the language of the classics, but what I observe is, some people claim a usage is correct even by contemporary standards, when they see sentences employing the usage and learn of the author's identity. That's the Emperor's New Clothes Effect I was talking about.

FounDit
Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2021 12:19:38 PM

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raymondaliasapollyon wrote:
FounDit wrote:
I’ve been somewhat occupied, and this is my first return to this topic after my last post, and I’m somewhat surprised at what I read.

I didn’t realize when I read your original post that the style of Shelley’s writing seems to have offended you, judging her writing as somehow wrong, and I focused on the last question you asked. I assumed you wondered why some of her writing seemed incorrect by our standards today, and how to avoid feeling that one should judge her writing, as well as her contemporaries, as somehow wrong. So, I focused what you could do to avoid that feeling and didn’t focus on what you see as a fault of native speakers, viz., The Emperor’s New Clothes effect. I will attempt to correct that oversight here.


It's not so much that her style has offended me, as that some people assume her use of language is correct, even by contemporary standards.


FounDit wrote:

I don’t’ see this as an Emperor's New Clothes Effect, so much as the native speaker’s awareness of their own limitations in judging the writing of the classics and assuming, based on the facts just outlined above, that the writing is correct in its usage. The mistake you are making, as I see it, is that you assume current native speakers are experts on the language, which they most certainly are not. The teaching of English language is always evolving, sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse, depending on the observer’s bias. Even experts disagree on aspects of usage, as the Usage Panel of experts on TFD are revealed to be, with varying opinions that shift in percentages over time.


I know few native speakers are experts, and it's good for people to be aware of their own limitations when it comes to the language of the classics, but what I observe is, some people claim a usage is correct even by contemporary standards, when they see sentences employing the usage and learn of the author's identity. That's the Emperor's New Clothes Effect I was talking about.

Hmm. Well, I'm not sure I'd call it the Emperor's New Clothes Effect as that implies to me that they know it's wrong, but refuse to admit it. To me, it's more what I wrote above:

"(It's) the native speaker’s awareness of their own limitations in judging the writing of the classics and assuming, based on the facts just outlined above (past generation's learning and use of the language), that the writing is correct in its usage even by modern standards."


Hope123
Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2021 3:34:51 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/23/2015
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Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
raymondaliasapollyon wrote:
If you really want to have your judgments compared with more people's, then I'd be very glad to comply with your request. But calling their opinions "anecdotal" doesn't make yours non-anecdotal.

Well, yeah. Obviously! But I'm not the one doing the comparison.

Never claimed to be an expert - in fact said the opposite.

What you call variation that keeps writing interesting may not be acceptable to most people.

And?

I also agree with what FounDit wrote.

Since you are determined to be right and do not care about our feelings, you may have the last word. I won't be back to this weird thread.



raymondaliasapollyon
Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2021 10:30:31 PM
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Joined: 7/14/2020
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FounDit wrote:
Hmm. Well, I'm not sure I'd call it the Emperor's New Clothes Effect as that implies to me that they know it's wrong, but refuse to admit it. To me, it's more what I wrote above:

"(It's) the native speaker’s awareness of their own limitations in judging the writing of the classics and assuming, based on the facts just outlined above (past generation's learning and use of the language), that the writing is correct in its usage even by modern standards."




The assumption that the past generation's learning of the language makes their 19th-century usage correct even today may well be what I find responsible for the Emperor's New Clothes Effect. With that (conscious or unconscious) assumption (and through self-hypnosis, maybe), some people may give an unreliable judgment on a piece of language from that era to linguists seeking to understand what features remain valid today. Naturally, linguists want to avoid the situation, by concealing the identity of an author or having speakers judge new sentences that employ the features being investigated.
raymondaliasapollyon
Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2021 10:39:19 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/14/2020
Posts: 483
Neurons: 2,824
Hope123 wrote:
[quote=raymondaliasapollyon]If you really want to have your judgments compared with more people's, then I'd be very glad to comply with your request. But calling their opinions "anecdotal" doesn't make yours non-anecdotal.

[i]Well, yeah. Obviously! But I'm not the one doing the comparison.



Did you know it's common practice among syntacticians to gather judgments in the informal way you seem to disapprove of? Anecdotal judgments on sentences are not so problematic as judgments that have been contaminated, so to speak, by extra-linguistic factors.

Hope123 wrote:


I also agree with what FounDit wrote.


Me too. Especially the part about how some people assume that 19th-century usage is correct even by modern standards because the past generation spent more time on learning the language.
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