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 Post subject: Re: Danny Boy
PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:45 pm 
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david_h wrote:
"My advice is to not let the boys in" vs "My advice is not to let the boys in"

It's not just a matter of grammar. If you are thinking of doing it then conceptually "to not let in" is an action in itself ("to keep out", "to debar from entry") in a way that, say,"to not run" isn't. And rhythmically having five syllables each for "my advice is to" and "not let the boys in" divides the line neatly but maybe that is less obvious when sung.

I wouldn't be surprised if some languages have a verb meaning "to boldly go".


Absolutely. Switching up the line makes a complete dog's breakfast of both the meaning and the rhythm. When Dylan sings it, he pounds on every third beat: "My advice is to not let the boys in" to great effect. Flipping "to not" destroys this, and as you point out, "not to let the boys in" and "to not let..." don't mean the same thing, either.

Which points to the power of linguistic change. The singers I noted had two powerful reasons to stick to the line as Bob wrote it, but changed it up, probably without even noticing they were doing so.

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 Post subject: Re: Danny Boy
PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:17 pm 
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s1m0n wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:
You have a hard time convincing me that reduced literacy is not an actual "thing".

What possible reason could you have for believing that?

Then let me repeat myself: The reason - and these are actual cases - is people not knowing the meaning of commonplace words like "addiction" and "lame", or thinking that "savage" is obsolete. I might give a pass on not knowing "smokescreen", but just barely.

s1m0n wrote:
Messages. Which are by nature a matter of literacy.

I think you're using the concept rather conveniently. Calling proficiency at a certain communicative style "literacy" is strictly an academic use of the word. It sidesteps what I'm getting at, and I'm pretty sure you know my drift. Engineering and the sciences, to say nothing of any literature worth the name, will not be served - ever - by pecking out abbreviations, hashtags and smileys on a handheld, and by blindly letting your spellchecker make your mistakes for you.

s1m0n wrote:
...there were cries, like yours...

Cries? That's rather dramatic.

s1m0n wrote:
...that cablese represented an assault on literacy or the dumbing down of society

Not once have I said any such thing, so have a care about putting words in my mouth. To repeat myself (yet again), I have asserted that the issue is ultimately one of social pressure. At an extreme it becomes obscurantism, and more extreme still, anti-intellectualism. I've encountered both far too often for my liking. I'm not concerned with media in and of itself; I'm concerned with what one does with it, and why. I couldn't care less about the prevalent texting style; it is what it is, and there's an inescapable logic to why it came about. Any fool can see that. But it's fashion, and that is hardly any harbinger of sweeping change to come in English letters, so I wouldn't waste the energy denouncing it if the idea even occurred to me. Which it hasn't, until now, so there you have it. Besides, it's kinda cute. I cn txt n lol 2 u w/ th bst of thm, but the point is that if that's all I'm good at, it's just as valid to call it nothing better than brutish semi-literacy. Calling it literacy artificially confers upon it a status it doesn't merit.

s1m0n wrote:
Over that same span, literacy rates spiked.

You would appear to suggest that the relationship of cablese to increased literacy is one of causation. Is that your intent?

s1m0n wrote:
I was 20 years old and working for an antiquarian bookseller when he came up to my desk and announced, sadly, that the Clarenden Press (printers of the Oxford University Press) had just published the last book they were ever going to set in metal type. Nearly all the commercial publishers had already moved on. All the instincts I'd been trained in about what constitutes literacy or fine style belong to that era.

You put too much stock in the idea that technology invariably affects literacy standards, and that the new erases its antecedents once and for all. As sure as I'm typing this, Gutenberg's revolution is not a thing of the past, but still with us. We've eliminated the need for movable type, but we still do the same basic thing - print - only just on our keyboards and screens, and without the need of a printing shop or typewriter any more. But what does that change? You may say along with McLuhan that the medium is the message, but really, that's only marginally true at best.

s1m0n wrote:
But my 19 yo niece and 17 yo nephew don't. They're digital natives, and plenty of the norms we were trained in don't mean much to them. Literacy to them means communicating via data, in all its forms: the web, texts, emojis, emoticons (poss already dying out), memes, hashtags and a ton of other stuff I ignore. This stuff is all language, and they have to learn it to be literate in their culture. They may not be as literate as you or I in ours, but they don't live in a world in which movable type is the pinnacle of literacy, and neither any longer do we.

And good luck to them finding jobs on that basis. What you're talking about is a popular and informal communication mode subject to the whims of momentary change, but to call proficiency at it "literacy" stretches the meaning thin. If you insist on calling it literacy, then you should acknowledge it as being parallel to the better, and I wager comparatively far more enduring, force that I call literacy.

s1m0n wrote:
Similarly, all the norms of what constituted a book got tossed out when print came in to replace hand-written manuscripts. Brand new standards of spelling, of punctuation, of abbreviation and pagination all had to devised, because the old ones no longer served.

It wasn't overnight. Early printing made use of all the ligatures common to manuscripts, but eventually someone realized the extra type wasn't necessary. That's streamlining, and a matter of practical thinking.

s1m0n wrote:
Because literacy has never been more important...

I agree.

s1m0n wrote:
...and our culture has never been more literate.

I disagree. We now have more access to information than ever before imaginable, but that simply makes us consumers, not more literate. To say otherwise is a mistake at best, and Orwellian doubletalk at worst, because it confuses what literacy really is. Come to think of it, what do you mean by "literacy"? Just anything at all?

Language and letters may change, but for that to happen the changes will be at least neutral, and better yet, will give something good and useful in the greater sphere. I would have no problem at all with a sea-change in our spelling to a more logically phonetic way, but we still have the problem of "they're", "their" and "there". I think that's likely to remain a tough nut to crack until we come up with distinctly different words to replace them.

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 Post subject: Re: Danny Boy
PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:11 am 
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Nanohedron wrote:
You have a hard time convincing me that reduced literacy is not an actual "thing".

I think that social media, text, email etc mean that more people are writing and reading. Thirty years ago, unless it was part of their work, many people didn't write much more that the occasional postcard to friends and family, often not very well. We get to read more bad writing. Is the better writing getting worse, as opposed to just different?

Nanohedron wrote:
Then let me repeat myself: The reason - and these are actual cases - is people not knowing the meaning of commonplace words like "addiction" and "lame", or thinking that "savage" is obsolete. I might give a pass on not knowing "smokescreen", but just barely.
I haven't come across anything like that in the UK. Could it be just a change of vocabulary in the USA? Presumably people still talk about these things. What words do they use?


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 Post subject: Re: Danny Boy
PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:46 am 
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Nano is judging the best educated of his generation against the worst of the next, and then breaking into a full bore chorus of We Are the Champions, which is fairly ridiculous.

Nano, when you and I went to high school, 15-30% of the population wasn't even allowed to enter academic high school. They were streamed off into technical school and taught a trade, like upholstery or cooking.

These days, people without at least a high school diploma - more likely a BA - are screwed. People who'd have been apprenticed out or streamed off in earlier generations now have to be kept, if at all possible, in academic streams until they get at least a diploma. Qualifications that used to mean that you were in the top 15%, or then the top 40% of students now mean that you're in the top 75%.

Your error is that you're judging the best of your generation (you) against the worst of the next. I can guarrantee you that in the next generations, there are more 'literate' writers (as you'd put it) and better stylists than you or I will ever be. Likewise, there will be hundreds who are much, much worse. Comparing across generations is useless. You and they don't even agree on what's important, or correct.

But I'm confident that if you compare the 90th percentile of one generation with the 90th percentile on another, and the 80th, 70th, 60th, 50th, and 40th likewise, you'll discover that each subsequent generation is more literate than the last, when apples are compared to apples.

~~

So I'm confident that the howlers you cite were likely written by folks who would never have been writing for publication in our day. They'd be working the line at Ford or GM, if those jobs still existed. They don't, any longer, so now those students have to be educated to a far higher standard. Yes, the average of educated people (now that the worst students are no longer streamed off) is dumbing down, but the average level of education is greatly increasing.

If you're going to generalise, you need to generalise about everybody, not just the best.

~~

I've already gone over the fact that a bunch of the things that our generation got taught as important simply aren't germane to subsequent gens. It's not that they don't know the distinctions we think are important, it's that they don't care. That distinction is useless to them. Oh, they understand how to parse it when they come across it - literacy has to be somewhat backwards compatible - but no one they're talking to cares. You can call them ignorant, but you've missed the picture. They're not trying to sound smart for your generation. They're trying to sound smart for theirs, and the targets are very different.

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 Post subject: Re: Danny Boy
PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:27 pm 
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david_h wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:
Then let me repeat myself: The reason - and these are actual cases - is people not knowing the meaning of commonplace words like "addiction" and "lame", or thinking that "savage" is obsolete. I might give a pass on not knowing "smokescreen", but just barely.
I haven't come across anything like that in the UK. Could it be just a change of vocabulary in the USA? Presumably people still talk about these things. What words do they use?

I can assure you I have no earthly idea. That's why these cases stick out so.

s1m0n wrote:
Nano is judging the best educated of his generation against the worst of the next, and then breaking into a full bore chorus of We Are the Champions, which is fairly ridiculous.

Only fairly ridiculous? That's being damned with the faintest praise possible. :lol:

You really don't get me, do you. This has nothing to do with being better than anyone. Is everything about competition to you? And you still avoid my assertion about the role of social pressure in dumbing-down. When you avoid things in this way, and then even stoop to schoolyard-level mockery, I come to suspect I've made a point after all.

I have only been suggesting that social pressure plays a role in either maintaining ignorance, or in feigning it, and that I think there are very real gaps in the US educational system that need to be addressed. How you extrapolate this into generational differences is beyond me, when it is in fact a multi-generational issue. I really don't know how much clearer I could be.

If you thinks social pressure happens only among the young, or that it's the only kind that counts, think again.

s1m0n wrote:
Nano, when you and I went to high school, 15-30% of the population wasn't even allowed to enter academic high school. They were streamed off into technical school and taught a trade, like upholstery or cooking.

Not true in the US, and I'm not sure what you mean by "allowed" (by whom? The system? Parents? Circumstances?). In the US - at least where I grew up, and most of us were bog-standard, proletarian middle/working class - those who didn't attend high school were in a much smaller minority than your figures. Public high school in the US is free for everyone, so taking advantage is a no-brainer, because the more education, the more it increases your chances to improve your lot, and this was not to be wasted (not that the student necessarily sees it that way, of course). It was, and I wager still is, considered highly unusual - so much so that it was almost unheard of - indeed unfortunate, or even backward, not to attend high school. Consequently, the end of high school was the customary time to decide if you went on to college or straight into the workforce, and to this day, high school graduation marks the cultural passage into adult status for us. Even though an 8th grade education was and still is considered the barest minimum acceptable, if you went into the trades without attending or graduating high school, people talked.

If you went that route, usually it was out of hardship and you had to help support your family. Last I checked, it's still that way.

s1m0n wrote:
Your error is that you're judging the best of your generation (you) against the worst of the next. I can guarrantee you that in the next generations, there are more 'literate' writers (as you'd put it) and better stylists than you or I will ever be. Likewise, there will be hundreds who are much, much worse. Comparing across generations is useless. You and they don't even agree on what's important, or correct.

There you go again, insisting that this is generational when I've taken pains to point out cases from my own. Until you drop that repetitive new-vs.-old cant, I'm afraid I just won't be able to take you seriously any more.

Let me offer another case (from my own general age bracket, again :poke: ): I was working in a factory, and one time at lunch break shared an amusing comic strip with a coworker. He looked at it uncomfortably, and blushing, finally muttered, "I don't get it." At first I didn't understand, because the comic strip, as most are, was quite simple. Turns out the poor guy couldn't read, and he'd gone through high school. Up to then I had no idea. My friend could sign his name, knew the value of his paycheck, and had enough of a working knowledge of what the road signs meant so he could drive, but that was about it. In short, the system had failed him because it allowed him to get by without being able to read. Fortunately for him it was just between the two of us when I found out what he was up against, because our coworkers loved being brutal at the slightest opportunity. You can bet he doesn't do any texting or email, and he'll have to say it's because he doesn't like it. This is an extreme case and as such it falls outside my social-pressure assertion, but the social climate didn't provide any real incentives for him to change it, either. The point is that he will not have been the only one, then or now. This isn't generational. It's systemic.

You say that the next generation will provide writers that are better than found in my own. That's a pretty confident prediction to make on conjecture, but I certainly hope you're right, because each generation standing on the shoulders of the last is the way it ought to be. But let's start with being on par, first.

s1m0n wrote:
If you're going to generalise, you need to generalise about everybody, not just the best.

And if you're going to generalize, you need to start with what I'm actually talking about. I'm only talking about basic competency, not "the best", whoever they are. You can't call illiteracy basic competency, and cite "the next generation" as your proof. Not only is the logic unconvincing (to put it mildly); it is an insult to them.

david_h wrote:
I think that social media, text, email etc mean that more people are writing and reading. Thirty years ago, unless it was part of their work, many people didn't write much more that the occasional postcard to friends and family, often not very well. We get to read more bad writing. Is the better writing getting worse, as opposed to just different?

Good point, and I'm afraid I don't have enough to forward an opinion. Perhaps this is what s1m0n means by "more literate". It would be nice if he would clarify, but since he seems satisfied to leave us to guess, let's just go ahead and assume that's what he meant, because it seems to fit.

To me, literacy is not at all the same as communicative activity. Activity is a sure sign of literacy of at least some kind, but increased activity just makes us busier, not more literate. Literacy is tools and comprehension skills, not mere output and consumption. Just as with food, you can produce and consume the bad just as well as the good, but no one mistakes production and consumption for the food itself. Literacy is how you produce and consume, and that is where tools and means come in. If you can't understand what you're reading or hearing, or can't say what you mean clearly, that cannot be an advance of any kind. It is the opposite, a disadvantage. But if you won't improve your situation for fear that people will call you showy for simply daring to think for yourself, that's even worse. That's what I've been trying to say all this time. I'm not all that concerned with spelling. Not everyone finds spelling to be easy, and fair enough. If you misspell, at least you're trying. But grammar, vocabulary, and punctuation are trickier to let slide. If you use a word wrongly, like "flaunt the rules" when you mean "flout", or write "Take time to eat people!" or "Get 'fresh' fish here", it's not someone else's fault if they misunderstand you. When it's anyone's guess, it matters. After all, in keeping with all the sins that s1m0n has been pleased to lay on my doorstep, it would be grammatically correct of him were he to add to the list by accusing me of flaunting the rules. :wink:

OTOH, when I can't comprehend the new, I suppose that puts me in the same boat. But the point is I can correct it, and I do, because curiosity is the better part of knowledge, and as they say, knowledge is power. So I think I'm still making my point, which is: fergodsakes, don't put an end to learning. Don't be content with your horizon, whether it's old or new. Resist the social pressure to settle for less when reason is at stake. Be curious. And if it means learning you've been wrong about something? That's good, because now you're that much less ignorant. Man up, and move onward and upward. That's the distillation of everything I've put forth, here.

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 Post subject: Re: Danny Boy
PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 4:08 pm 
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I quite like the tune myself, and often practice playing it. As for it not being seen as Irish, well that seems odd considering its title!

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 Post subject: Re: Danny Boy
PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 4:19 pm 
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Read the topic, AuLoS303... it's not the tune's provenance that's in question!

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 Post subject: Re: Danny Boy
PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 4:22 pm 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
Read the topic, AuLoS303... it's not the tune's provenance that's in question!

I read the first page, the top posts, and the discussion was about its authenticity and its name.

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 Post subject: Re: Danny Boy
PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 4:27 pm 
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First reply:

benhall.1 wrote:
In other words, the song isn't especially Irish, although the tune is.

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 Post subject: Re: Danny Boy
PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:16 am 
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bigsciota wrote:
1910 would predate quite a few tunes and songs that are readily accepted as "traditional."


It depends on what definition one uses for "traditional".

In most song-books, hymnals etc tunes and words by known composers aren't listed as "traditional".

To me the tune Derry Air is traditional, the song Danny Boy isn't.

In any case, I have done many gigs over the years, funerals and weddings, where prior to the service I'm sitting there in the church playing 20 minutes or so of preservice music on the uilleann pipes.

I like cycling through sean nos airs, Irish Folk Music, and Tin Pan Alley pseudo-Irish songs. Each genre appeals to a different audience. It's the Tin Pan Alley stuff that Americans think of as being "Irish music" and Danny Boy will usually get played.

(Sometimes only hymns are allowed, so I'll play those, especially the ones that don't fit on the Highland pipes.)

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