Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

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RamblinBoyofPleasure
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Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby RamblinBoyofPleasure » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:08 pm

Ok, is it "an eureka moment" or "a eureka moment".

In general, the collective wisdom of the internet seems to write it "a eureka", but I have also found it written the other way. It starts with a vowel. But it's technically a foreign word. But it's also been appropriated by English. I'm stuck.

Also should there be a comma in the parenthetical statement in this sentence:
"That is why a great debater will listen to what you say—not what he thinks you said or what he wants you to say—and then he will think about it."

I will love you forever if you have the answers.

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euskadi
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby euskadi » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:17 pm

RamblinBoyofPleasure wrote:Ok, is it "an eureka moment" or "a eureka moment".

In general, the collective wisdom of the internet seems to write it "a eureka", but I have also found it written the other way. It starts with a vowel. But it's technically a foreign word. But it's also been appropriated by English. I'm stuck.

Also should there be a comma in the parenthetical statement in this sentence:
"That is why a great debater will listen to what you say—not what he thinks you said or what he wants you to say—and then he will think about it."

I will love you forever if you have the answers.


Although "eureka" is written with an initial vowel, the sound is not a vowel. Would you say "an useful guide"? The sound itself determines whether the "n" is necessary - vocalic sounds (produced with no obstruction of the vocal tract) follow the indefinite article "an". Consonantal and semi-consonantal sounds (such as the initial /j/ in "eureka") follow "a". Really, your choice of "a" or "an" will show your pronunciation of the word (as in "a historic" [American] versus "an historic event" [varieties of British English]). In this case, the initial sound is always semi-consonantal in English.

The dashes seem fine to me. Although I think you can make them work in a PS, dashes are semi-informal, and their use doesn't seem to be frequently prescribed (or proscribed) in the same way that commas are.

RamblinBoyofPleasure
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby RamblinBoyofPleasure » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:21 pm

So much love for my Basque friend here.

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theadvancededit
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby theadvancededit » Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:46 am

euskadi wrote:
Although "eureka" is written with an initial vowel, the sound is not a vowel. Would you say "an useful guide"? The sound itself determines whether the "n" is necessary - vocalic sounds (produced with no obstruction of the vocal tract) follow the indefinite article "an". Consonantal and semi-consonantal sounds (such as the initial /j/ in "eureka") follow "a". Really, your choice of "a" or "an" will show your pronunciation of the word (as in "a historic" [American] versus "an historic event" [varieties of British English]). In this case, the initial sound is always semi-consonantal in English.

The dashes seem fine to me. Although I think you can make them work in a PS, dashes are semi-informal, and their use doesn't seem to be frequently prescribed (or proscribed) in the same way that commas are.



OMG, yes. Your explanation is making me fan myself, here.

kublaikahn
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby kublaikahn » Thu Dec 08, 2011 3:23 am

You can't listen to what you think someone says or what you want them to say. So the sentence should be rewritten regardless, or irregardless as it would be.

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thelawschoolproject
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby thelawschoolproject » Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:07 am

1). an eureka

2). put a comma before "or"

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Blessedassurance
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby Blessedassurance » Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:13 am

thelawschoolproject wrote:1). an A eureka

2). put a comma before "or"

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thelawschoolproject
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby thelawschoolproject » Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:18 am

Um...no, but good try.

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Blessedassurance
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby Blessedassurance » Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:19 am

See: Eunuch

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Dany
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby Dany » Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:21 am

Blessedassurance wrote:
thelawschoolproject wrote:1). an A eureka

2). put a comma before "or"

This.

spinsrap
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby spinsrap » Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:28 am

Dany wrote:
Blessedassurance wrote:
thelawschoolproject wrote:1). an A eureka

2). put a comma before "or"

This.


This x 2.

That said, the fact that this conversation is even happening is grounds for replacing the whole phrase out. If it's awkward for us, it's awkward for them, you hardly want them to stop there and wonder about it themselves. Just my opinion.

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Dany
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby Dany » Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:31 am

thelawschoolproject wrote:Jesus, I need to go to sleep. Yes, a eureka....but I stand by the need for a comma.

No.

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Blessedassurance
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby Blessedassurance » Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:32 am

Right, the second sentence is awkward in a way I cannot articulate.

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Dany
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby Dany » Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:34 am

spinsrap wrote:
Dany wrote:
Blessedassurance wrote:
thelawschoolproject wrote:1). an A eureka

2). put a comma before "or"

This.


This x 2.

That said, the fact that this conversation is even happening is grounds for replacing the whole phrase out. If it's awkward for us, it's awkward for them, you hardly want them to stop there and wonder about it themselves. Just my opinion.

Nah. I mean, I'd probably rephrase, but I think we're only looking at it strangely because he asked us to look at it out of context. It's like when you write or type a word a lot, the spelling starts to look weird. I do think kublaikahn has a good point, though, and at the very least, OP should put "hear" where "listen" is.

spinsrap
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby spinsrap » Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:41 am

Blessedassurance wrote:Right, the second sentence is awkward in a way I cannot articulate.


I think it's the "what you say... thinks you said...wants you to say... thinks about it".

I've found that when a predicate repeats and shuffles words in like phrases, it can make the reader re-read or make the sentence sound turgid. I agree with you that there's an awkwardness.

Dany: I might agree with you that it wouldn't trip me up if I were reading. I just have read a crapload of coverletters at my job and the ones that force me to halt and headscratch are never good.

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laxbrah420
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby laxbrah420 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:28 am

The dashes make it hard to read

"That is why a great debater will listen to what you say, not what he thinks you said or what he wants you to say. And then he will think about it."

Definitely no comma before or. And the stop between say and And I think is simply better style.

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laxbrah420
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby laxbrah420 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:31 am

Google scholar search:
"An eureka" = 416 results
"A eureka" = 3960 results

That is my favorite way to check grammar.

Looks like you should be actually writing, "a 'Eureka' moment"

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theadvancededit
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby theadvancededit » Fri Dec 09, 2011 12:45 pm

laxbrah420 wrote:
"That is why a great debater will listen to what you say, not what he thinks you said or what he wants you to say. And then he will think about it."



Regardless of punctuation, there is an inherent contradiction here. Granted, it is presented without context but, judging it as it stands, this sentence should be scrapped entirely.

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laxbrah420
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby laxbrah420 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:00 pm

I disagree. I think it's clear that he's making a distinction between two types of listening to the way someone is communicating. The natural way to listen to someone is to simultaneously pair intent with the actual language...here, this great debater deconstructs the two processes

snehpets
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby snehpets » Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:04 pm

I agree that it contradicts itself. You can't think someone says something before you think about it. I completely see the point he's trying to illustrate but I think it should be phrased differently. Contradictory or no, it's awkward phrasing.

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laxbrah420
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby laxbrah420 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:08 pm

I think what makes human language unique is that we attach meaning with words by default. This great debater processes the words like a machine

RamblinBoyofPleasure
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby RamblinBoyofPleasure » Sat Dec 10, 2011 12:36 am

Wow. I can't believe this thread is still going.

I really don't see how it's contradictory. One of the most irritating (and common) things people do in an argument is assume you are saying something that you are not. They do not make an argument after thinking about what you said; they make arguments against what they imagine you said.

That said (ha) I deleted the "what he thinks you said" clause anyway, since it was not necessary to get the point across.

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BigA
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Re: Two grammatical questions that I can't find an answer for

Postby BigA » Sat Dec 10, 2011 3:45 pm

how about this... "That is why a great debater will listen to what you say. And then he will think about it without altering its meaning"




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