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BS: The difference a space makes

McGrath of Harlow 15 Aug 13 - 07:49 PM
Joe_F 15 Aug 13 - 07:50 PM
Richard Bridge 15 Aug 13 - 08:43 PM
Bill D 15 Aug 13 - 09:27 PM
Ebbie 15 Aug 13 - 09:34 PM
gnu 16 Aug 13 - 05:56 AM
Pete Jennings 16 Aug 13 - 07:31 AM
frogprince 16 Aug 13 - 10:57 AM
KB in Iowa 16 Aug 13 - 11:44 AM
Bill D 16 Aug 13 - 11:59 AM
Ebbie 16 Aug 13 - 03:15 PM
Steve Parkes 16 Aug 13 - 04:48 PM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Aug 13 - 05:11 PM
JennieG 16 Aug 13 - 06:36 PM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Aug 13 - 08:13 PM
Jim Dixon 16 Aug 13 - 11:19 PM
Bill D 16 Aug 13 - 11:22 PM
JennieG 17 Aug 13 - 02:11 AM
Airymouse 17 Aug 13 - 09:54 AM
Jim Dixon 17 Aug 13 - 06:02 PM
Joe_F 17 Aug 13 - 06:51 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Aug 13 - 07:00 PM
Bill D 17 Aug 13 - 07:43 PM
DMcG 18 Aug 13 - 09:57 AM
Steve Parkes 18 Aug 13 - 02:35 PM
GUEST,leeneia 19 Aug 13 - 10:51 AM
Uncle_DaveO 19 Aug 13 - 05:23 PM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Aug 13 - 05:42 PM
GUEST,leeneia 19 Aug 13 - 06:20 PM
Pete Jennings 20 Aug 13 - 11:30 AM
GUEST,leeneia 21 Aug 13 - 11:18 AM
The Sandman 21 Aug 13 - 07:33 PM
GUEST,leeneia 22 Aug 13 - 11:56 AM
JennieG 22 Aug 13 - 06:13 PM
frogprince 22 Aug 13 - 06:49 PM
JennieG 22 Aug 13 - 09:08 PM
Dave the Gnome 23 Aug 13 - 09:38 AM
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Subject: BS: The difference a space makes
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 07:49 PM

In a thread about Eleanor Farjeon's Morning has Broken the question arose whether she'd written blackbird or black bird. Of course it was the first, but it set me thinking about the difference a space can sometimes make.

For example there can be a world of difference between for ever and forever, or far away and faraway. And then there are the jokey things that come up in crosswords - leg ends and legends, or pull you up in department shops - men swear and women swear and even children swear.

But the first sort are what intrigues me, because it's quite hard to identify where the difference lies, and to explain why something that isn't there can change things that way.


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: Joe_F
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 07:50 PM

Well, there is the (probably legendary) typesetter who, in a headline, left out a space in PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN SWORD.


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 08:43 PM

I had a girlfriend in the early 1970s who was a physio the rapist.


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: Bill D
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 09:27 PM

All my opinions are in tact.


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: Ebbie
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 09:34 PM

I agree that your opinions, Bill, are usually given con tact.


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: gnu
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 05:56 AM

I like that one, Bill.


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: Pete Jennings
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 07:31 AM

Iwasgoingtopostsomethingalongbillslinesbuthesbeatenmetoitsonofagnuashasebbiesoherestheopposite.


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: frogprince
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 10:57 AM

Much the same as the presence or absence of a comma.
What is this thing called love?
What is this thing called, love?


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: KB in Iowa
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 11:44 AM

What's that in the road, a head?

What's for dinner, mother?


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 11:59 AM

"...usually given con tact."

*giggle*


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: Ebbie
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 03:15 PM

You are a most tactful man, Bill D. :)


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 04:48 PM

Somewhere there's a list of innocently-made-up websites with unintentionally disastrous URLs. It appeared in New Scientist mag a couple of years back, and I'd be delighted if someone could find it. (And so would you!)


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 05:11 PM

Here is a site with a bunch of such disasters

Here are the first few:

1. A site called 'Who Represents' where you can find the name of the agent that represents a celebrity. Their domain name… wait for it… is
www.whorepresents.com

2. Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at
www.expertsexchange.com

3. Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island at
www.penisland.net

4. Need a therapist? Try Therapist Finder at
www.therapistfinder.com


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: JennieG
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 06:36 PM

There is also the well-known Ozzie classic used about someone who:
eats, roots and leaves; or
eats roots and leaves.

To get this you need to know that the verb "to root" in Ozzieland means "to have sexual intercourse".


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 08:13 PM

Gives the line "get your kicks on Route 66" a whole different dimension...


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 11:19 PM

Capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse, and helping your uncle jack off a horse.


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 11:22 PM

Funny... I know about Pen-Island, because I used to make wooden pens. They don't seem to be trying very hard these days... or even listing types of wood. *I* could still make you a wooden pen, but I don't have a cuteish name for a company. I suspect they leave it up for laughs.


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: JennieG
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 02:11 AM

Indeed, McGrath......and I can never sing the old song about baseball, which has as part of its lyrics "and we'll root, root, root for the home team", without a slight smile.

All right, more than slight......


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: Airymouse
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 09:54 AM

Years ago I read an article in one of these right-wing rags, like The Wall Street Journal, the gist of which was that some nuclear power plant wanted forty seven hundred-foot long rods but got forty seven hundred foot-long rods. It was an expensive error. And then there's "Mathematica" where an unintentional space is treated as a multiplication and a , instead of a ; yields chaos instead of suppressing the display. Nonetheless (which is not spelled "none the less")Mathematica is a great tool.


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 06:02 PM

That story about the rods sounds apocryphal to me (which is a polite way of saying: "It's a goddamn lie").

Every purchase order form I've ever seen, whether it's on a computer screen or on paper, has two separate fields: one for the quantity and another for the description of the individual item. Furthermore, nearly every supplier nowadays has a part number or catalog number for each item it sells. And a 700-foot rod or a 100-foot rod or an 1-foot rod would each have a different part number. That's assuming such things really exist.

Then you would have to calculate the price, and that would provide another check against any mistake.

I just can't believe it would happen as described.


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: Joe_F
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 06:51 PM

The danger presented by "therapist" was noted some time ago. I believe that it was around 1950 that Leo Rosten began an article in Look magazine "As therapists are well aware," and saw it appear in print with an unwanted space.

An end-of-line hyphenation can be similarly distracting. About 30 years ago I read in Time magazine an article on disarmament that contained a sentence along the lines

It no longer matters which of the
combatants has the bigger arse-
nal.

In less than a saccade, a vision of sumo wrestlers flashed before my eyes.


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 07:00 PM

But it's a good story. And the misunderstanding is one that must have occurred often enough in one way or another.

Though even in big organisations seemingly impossible cock-ups can happen. Remember the trouble they had with the Hubble Telescope when NASA used non-metric measurements?


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: Bill D
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 07:43 PM

One problem is with modern programming technology which allows for 'automatic' voice-to-text conversion and spell checking which may either allow the wrong word or change a word for the worse. If no one competent is minding the editing, 'cock-ups' (some programs wouldn't allow THAT) can easily occur. ... and it's getting harder to find younger proof readers and editors who ARE competent - they just assume the program knows.
(I have slight hearing loss, and occasionally use closed-caption for some TV programs. There are some startling errors and very funny reading when no one is minding the banners.)


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: DMcG
Date: 18 Aug 13 - 09:57 AM

Bill D - I saw a great one about a year ago during a report on the latest borrowing figures. The simultaneous caption referred to the 'latest boring figures'. Even now, I'm not sure if that wasn't the more accurate rendering.


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 18 Aug 13 - 02:35 PM

And 'cock-up' comes from the sense of canted (type that very carefully!) or tilted: think of 'cock a leg' or 'cock-eyed' (are we still allowed to say that?) or 'cock-billed (which is where all the yards of a ship are cocked as a salute -- honestly).
Not to be confused with any other sort of cock with which you may be familiar!


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 10:51 AM

McGrath, the OP, wrote:

"But the first sort are what intrigues me, because it's quite hard to identify where the difference lies, and to explain why something that isn't there can change things that way."

He mentioned the difference between blackbird and black bird. Well, there's more differences between those words than a mere space. In particular, the emphasis is different. We say BLACK-bird for the first (loud syllable is in caps) and black BIRD for the second. As I'm sure we've all noticed, we English speakers tend to move accents forward as a phrase gets more and more familiar. The first one is the European blackbird, a certain species with certain habits. The second is any bird that's black, from a little starling to a great big vulture.

You've made me realize, McGraw, that leaving the space out indicates where to put the stress.

Other examples I've thought of:

the dark TREE
the OAKtree

a purple CARD
a BIRTHday card

a long BOOK
a SONGbook

a slick NAME
a NICKname


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 05:23 PM

I've increasingly been noticing (and swearing under my breath), as I listen to radio news announcers (alas! even on NPR!) who sort of automatically accent adjectives, regardless of the meaning of the phrase in scripted news item. This announcement behavior seems to be
getting more and more common.

Just at the moment I don't come up with a quote from a live broadcast, but I'll expatiate on the problem just the same.

Suppose you've been dreaming, you awake and see "a green tree", and you're confused or surprised. Now, suppose your dream was one of the following:

1. You'd dreamed of a forest killed by a great drought. So "a GREEN tree". The color is significant.

2. You'd dreamed of wandering in the gasping sands of the Sahara desert. Those words, to be disconcerting, should probably be spoken as "a green TREE".

In general, to accent an adjective is called for if the noun that follows is one of a class of objects or events which have been alluded to, so that the adjective is meant to distinguish the referent from the rest of the understood class. In the case of "a green TREE" in the desert, the word "green" is of very limited meaning; "TREE" is the significant factor in view of the dream.

The drought-killed forest of dream 2, on the other hand, would be gray, or brown, or leafless, so to wake to see a GREEN tree justifies an emphasis on "green".

Pedant mode OFF.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 05:42 PM

True, Dave - as with FOLK dancer as opposed to to BALLET dancer, but folk DANCER as against folk SINGER.

The change in stress indicates the significant word in context, and as leeneia pointed out, a space or lack of it can indicate where the stress should be sometimes.

But in for ever and foever, and far away and faraway the effect of the space and of the change in stress, is harder to pin down, and there are lots of simmilar examples.


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 06:20 PM

Uncle Dave, I think announcers often read things over the air before really understanding them, so they accent them in awkward ways.

But maybe what you are hearing is the latest fad. Remember when announcers did everything in an irritating singsong? If they were a boat, they'd make you seasick.

McGrath, you are right about the stress being hard to pin down sometime. In a language with as many words, possible word orders and dialects as English, there are many, many possibilities.


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: Pete Jennings
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 11:30 AM

Q. What can we do with this spaceman?

A. Park in it, man.


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 21 Aug 13 - 11:18 AM

Good one, Pete.


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Aug 13 - 07:33 PM

shoot eats sand leaves


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 22 Aug 13 - 11:56 AM

McGrath is right about 'faraway.' I don't understand why we change the stress in these two sentences:

She had a FARaway look in her eye.
She's gone far aWAY from here.

Any ideas?

As for 'forever' and 'for ever', I can't think of a reasonable sentence with the phrase 'for ever' in it.


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: JennieG
Date: 22 Aug 13 - 06:13 PM

There is also a difference between:

Are you in, love?    and

Are you in love?


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: frogprince
Date: 22 Aug 13 - 06:49 PM

JennieG;

Of all the words of tongue or pen,
The saddest words are,
"Is it in?"


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: JennieG
Date: 22 Aug 13 - 09:08 PM

Oh my......yes, I suppose they are!


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Subject: RE: BS: The difference a space makes
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 23 Aug 13 - 09:38 AM

One of Paul Hogan's Fosters ad's made use of it. Someone on the London underground asking how to get to Cockfosters.

"Can you tell me the way to Cock Fosters"

"Yep, mate, drink it warm."

Surprised they got away with it :-)

Cheers

DtG


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