Talk:Linguistic discrimination

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Is linguistic discrimination always wrong?[edit]

Does this mean that there's no such thing as a misspelling or incorrect use of an apostrophe? Is it just as valid to pronounce words like cognac, sake (the drink), canape, ballet and hyperbole the way they are spelled (in English) rather than their more widely accepted (borrowed) pronunciations? What about words (Muslamic, supposably, irregardless) or phrases & idioms ("a case and point", "not adverse to", "tow the line") that enter the vernacular through confusion with more well established words & phrases? Are these just as valid as the original words & phrases they resemble? I don't have the answers to any of these questions. JAQ, I suppose. WéáśéĺóíďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 16:47, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

I actually had an interesting discussion with someone on this topic a couple years ago. His view was that English is a more versatile and powerful language because its vernacular is mostly decided by popular usage (hence, technically incorrect words such as "irregardless" become legitimate over time as long as they are frequently used). I personally take (and took) the opposite view; that English is a hodge-podge of messy and inconsistent rules that makes learning it as a second language brutally difficult. Call me crazy, but I think the French have something good going on with their Académie française. - GrantC (talk) 16:57, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Well, see, discrimination against people on the basis of how they speak alone is always wrong. As long as everyone is clear on the intended communication and the intended method of communication there should be no cause for discrimination against an individual. If there was another context, like if the person claims to be speaking "standard English", but is getting several things wrong, you could conceivably label them as ignorant or something. Pure linguistic discrimination, however, I don't see how that can be right. Nullahnung (talk) 17:03, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure I agree. The formality of communication expected is heavily dependent on context. For example, employers paper-sifting job applications often discard ones with errors of spelling, grammar or punctuation. Maybe this is pedantic & something we should move away from, but it's not in the same ballpark as discarding applications on the basis of the applicants' ethnic background. WëäŝëïöïďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 17:56, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
(EC)Right, generally in professional areas there is always standardisation, since they seem to go hand-in-hand for various reasons. Generally the standardisation dictates "standard English", therefore that is the expected method of communication. I suppose linguistic discrimination is also reasonable in a context where there is a case to be made for reasonable expectation of standardisation. Nullahnung (talk) 18:15, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Hmm, I think there is another distinction to be made, maybe. Whereas it is not acceptable to discriminate against a dialect's spelling on the basis that "standard English" is superior (which it isn't), it is acceptable to require people to use "standard English" instead of said dialect's spelling on the basis of an industry standard, as that is not necessarily discrimination against the dialect's spelling itself. Right? Nullahnung (talk) 18:35, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Nullahnung says: "As long as everyone is clear on the intended communication and the intended method of communication there should be no cause for discrimination against an individual."
But who is "everyone" in this case? If you live an Glasgow and you speak with a strong Glaswegian accent then "everyone" will understand you. But if you move to another part of the English-speaking world then you - quite rightly - won't be employed in a call centre, as the majority of the English-speaking world won't understand you. --Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 18:07, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Yes, professional discrimination that has to do with language is a different beast and I won't be disagreeing with it. (Of course it still needs to be within reason. Nobody should have their career affected because the boss finds Chinese-English accents annoying.) Nullahnung (talk) 18:21, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
I'm confused by your position. you seem to be simultaneously saying that that "linguistic discrimination" is always wrong but that "professional linguistic discrimination" is OK.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 18:39, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
You should not be confused, as I provided sufficient "backpedal space" by including the qualification that an added context changes acceptability in my original post. Irregardless (*wink*), it's probably polite for me to say, that I failed to consider professional discrimination (within reason) in my original position and must amend my position with it now. I am of course grateful to you for improving my position. Nullahnung (talk) 18:46, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
That's cool. So it's fine to discriminate linguistically where appropriate. Hey! We all agree!--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 18:51, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Hold on, there! It's still important to make the distinction between professional discrimination and superiority/inferiority-discrimination, don't you think?. Professional requirements sometimes dictate a form of reasonable discrimination, like not having a strong accent at a call centre, but saying "this accent does not fit this job" is different from saying "this accent is just generally inferior to standard English", right? Nullahnung (talk) 19:02, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Depends. It's a matter of degree. If someone has an accent which is understandable within their particular community but which is not understandable to the world at large wouldn't that be a problem? If somebody has learned a form of English whose grammatical structures are so at variance to the norm that they are incomprehensible wouldn't that be a problem? If somebody has so many false friends in their vocabulary that they are almost impossible to understand wouldn't we be justified in saying their english was substandard? --Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 19:11, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Well, Germans can't understand Danish (I don't think; I don't speak either), but that doesn't mean Danish is wrong or inferior to German.--Кřěĵ (ṫåɬк) 22:20, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
(EC)I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'false friends', not a term I've heard used on the topic of language. And no, I don't think that just because someone speaks incomprehensible English, that someone deserves to be discriminated against on that basis. Incomprehensibility is a problem, but as long as it isn't intentional, we shouldn't denounce them. There will be a mutual need for increasing comprehensible communication, but it is no basis for labeling people as inferior. Nullahnung (talk) 19:27, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
"False friends" are words which seem to be the same in two languages but which are, in fact, different. There are a vast number of them between English and other European languages - either because of of the German origins of English or its later Norman-French overlay. A classic example would be "actually" (or a word which sounds like it) which means "in reality" in English but which means "now" in many European languages. Many non-native speakers are convinced that they are using the word correctly and even use it in "euro speak" between themselves but they would immediately confuse a native speaker. There are a vast number of other examples.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 19:45, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Another name for this is "false cognates", in case that terminology is more familiar to you. A particularly embarrassing example between English and French is the French verb "s'embrasser". The most common French definition of this verb is "to kiss", which can lead to some awkward moments for anglophones trying to directly translate any of the English definitions. - GrantC (talk) 19:50, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Interesting as the false friend for English "embarrassed" is Spanish "embarazado" - pregnant! (Both come from the a Latin word meaning "blocked" or "obstructed".)--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 20:11, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
I can imagine mix-ups between those two words being quite interesting. In the case of embrace/s'embrasser, the translation becomes much more dangerous when one considers that "embraser" is a French verb meaning "to fire" or "to set ablaze" depending on the context. - GrantC (talk) 20:18, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for educating me, both of you! I think confusion and miscommunication is a huge problem in general, but I am not one to fault any one particular party for it or favour one side as superior. Nullahnung (talk) 19:53, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Some purists would argue that "false friends" and "false cognates" are different. The first having a common historical root and the second simply being similar as a consequence of random chance. Some linguistic woo has in fact, been generated by confusing the two.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 20:03, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
True. It would have been more correct for me to say that "false cognate" is a similar concept (leading to many of the same issues), and that my example was explicitly a false friend. The root of "s'embrasser" is common in both English and French (derived from Old French), but the French meaning has drifted. Does it seem a bit funny to anyone else that the loanword in English is actually more "pure" than the French term, yet both are derived from Old French? - GrantC (talk) 20:07, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
See above - it's all from Latin. (And then from indo-European I suppose).--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 20:13, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Yes, I'm aware. However, the Old French root directly replaced an existing Old English word. You could say the French "got there first", if you will, whereas the original Old English word meaning the same thing was not Latin in origin. That's why it's sort of amusing to me that the English version kept closer to the original Latin meaning than the French version did. - GrantC (talk) 20:21, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure which "original" you are talking about now! English "pregnant" also comes from Latin. Spanish has a word from the same Latin root as well - "impregnada" (although I suppose it's closer to English "Impregnated") but the Spanish only use this one for animals. --Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 20:32, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Oh dear, confusion abounds! I was still talking about "embrace"/"s'embrasser", which derive from the Old French root word "embrachier". - GrantC (talk) 20:33, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Spanish has encinta (cognate to French enceinte), although I've been told it seems archaic and formal, at least to some South American speakers, who would more likely use embarazada. The funniest false friend of which I am aware is "location" in French and English. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 20:44, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
What is "standard" in English? In French, there is a set of rules to be followed as determined by a central organization (not legally binding, but generally followed nonetheless). No such organization exists in English, and even grammatical structure in and of itself is often disputed. Consider the Oxford comma, or the concept of the hanging preposition. Try to find some "standard" to either of those situations. Okay, sure, a boss probably won't throw out your application because you didn't use an Oxford comma, bu the hanging preposition issue is significant enough that it could make a difference. How does one define linguistic discrimination in a language in which there's no "standard" or norm to follow? - GrantC (talk) 19:22, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Defining linguistic discrimination on the basis this article is using is actually pretty easy and does not require consideration of this lack of a rigid standard, but that's avoiding the issue you've raised. Defining linguistic discrimination on the basis professionals are using to judge CVs is difficult, I suppose. It's just another problem that English brings. Luckily, employers are often flexible enough to ameliorate this issue of having to do without rigidity, but some are not, I guess. Nullahnung (talk) 19:32, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, that was more or less what I was going for there. As a Canadian, for example, I could conceivably face difficulties in applying for jobs in both the U.S. and the UK because my dialect differs from that of both countries quite significantly. This isn't the case in spoken English, but since Canadian English sort of transformed halfway towards American English and then stopped, the potential issues are still there. Would a job screener in the U.S. perhaps read "colour" as a typo, or would a screener in the UK regard "tire" or "curb" as a typo? How about "modeling" vs. "modelling"? It's a very tough question. - GrantC (talk) 19:38, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Aye, the world should be pedantic in much more meaningful places than this ... the distinction between 'centre' and 'center' is not meaningful to me. Nullahnung (talk) 19:45, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Tyre and kerb don't get in the way too much. Vest, though, might lead to sartorial misunderstanding. Even worse, imagine the spectacle of a young white-collar worker trying to impress a secretary by balancing a rubber on his nose.
Someone once told me that, during the global war (the one after the war to end all war) the US armed forces' preferred accent for radio operators came from Ohio, since they could understand, and be understood by, the greatest proportion of other citizen-soldiers (or sailors, or aviators, or jar heads.)
I went through a phase of conscientiously not judging people by their orthography. Nowadays I'm less tolerant, and its/it's or your/you're make me less inclined to consider someone's opinion as worth paying attention to. Irregardless, I blithely dangle prepositions and split infinitives. I don't speak Latin, whence came the latter two, and I like the prosody of the former. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 20:01, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
In point of fact the idea that you should not split an infinitive does not come from Latin. Or it certainly was not a Latin rule for the simple reason that Latin verbs could not be split- they were just one word. The English infinitive can be split "to go" vs "to boldly go". However as some ancient English grammarians incorrectly thought that English was descended from Latin they decided that splitting infinitives should be prohibited. There is no evidence in the history of English that this should be avoided. In any event if splitting up verbs is a bad idea why not object to splitting the present perfect? "I have thought" vs I have always thought".--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 20:47, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Well said. Trying to avoid dangling prepositions certainly makes for some awkward sentence structure, such as: "I agree with the concept about which you're speaking". Personally, I aim for my grammar to be as formally "correct" as possible without becoming unwieldy. - GrantC (talk) 20:05, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
(EC)It's worth re-examining that... after all, not everybody should be expected to be adept at written English. Foreigners, for example. (Actually, the argument is that adeptness at written English is not indicative of worthiness of opinion.) Nullahnung (talk) 20:08, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
(EC)Nullahnung, you write like an educated native speaker of English, as far as I can tell. There are often cues in the writing of someone whose first language isn't English, for example in subject-verb agreement, or complications of verb tense. Sometimes they repeatedly use a particular construction, along the lines of the king's "shall have been" in Anna and the King of Siam. Where I see that kind of presentation, I just read it to see what they have to say, without taking off points for style or grammar, particularly if they have something interesting to say. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 00:03, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
Well, I am a native speaker of German (actually, I'm living between three routine languages, but that's a long story), but I suppose I should feel honoured to be measured by the standards of native speakers. I still write like a German sometimes, preferring long sentences with complicated structure.
I would like to maintain that written language is not indicative of the quality of opinions/ideas, but it's difficult to argue against what appears to be intuition-based judgement on your part. Nullahnung (talk) 00:32, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
This definitely seems to start off on the wrong foot. It moves straight from the observation that linguistics, as a data collecting science, makes no judgment about the forms it collects, to an assertion that discrimination for noncomformity to standard pronunciations and spellings is somehow wrong. A student newspaper editorial said so. First, them's apples and oranges. Linguists don't prescribe standard grammars or usages because it's not their job.

That's a job for the communities that use languages, and for big languages it gets embodied in lexicographers, editors, pedagogues, news-readers, writers, and other people whose usage or prescriptive norms define prestige varieties of language. In some places, their authority is established by law; some places have institutions such as the Académie Française, the Icelandic Naming Committee, or the Japanese bureaucracy that decided which kanji must be learned by schoolchildren. Even where these officials and laws exist, their practical authority is again limited. French speakers continue to use borrowed words (especially from the horribly hegemoniacal English!, hiss the villain!) without regards to the lightnings of the Academy. Japanese people freely use nonstandard kanji; there are thousands of unofficial characters in personal names. Name laws are intended to preserve cultural heritages, but they always end up making controversy.

I'm not sure we ought to be claiming that any of these laws are even beyond the legitimate powers of governments, even if they end up "discriminating" against people on account of accent, spelling, or usage. There is a healthy dose of cultural chauvinism at work in the Académie Française and the Icelandic Naming Committee, and the French and Icelanders are pikers in cultural chauvinism compared to the Japanese. But, frankly, claiming that this is somehow akin to "racism" strikes me as serious rhetorical overkill, and just...... Prescriptive standards are inevitable, given the fact that language and writing are meant to communicate with other people.

:And yes, people who read your writing or hear your speech will go right on ahead making spot conclusions based on it. They'll know immediately if you spoke it from infancy or took a course. They'll judge your apparent education, and likely intelligence. They'll judge whether you're local, or not from around here. They'll judge whether you're just folks like us, or some kind of revenuer, The Man, or other class enemy. People who speak every language from Miwok to Mandarin are going to do all of these things. I defy anyone to stop this. Calling this universal process "racist" just seems designed to burden your neighbor pointlessly.

These are all interesting phenomena. They might be made missional. But framing all of this in terms of being kept down by the Man is just being silly. It seems that the great grievance generating engine that inflates social representation and marginalization into Very Important Things has fussed and sputtered and misfired, and as a result is generating very little outrage. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 23:32, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
The original text also seems extremely Anglocentric. (Please let it not be there.) I also suspect that linguistic discrimination is not an English-only thing, either, and the more global a perspective you take, the more problems will become apparent. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 03:42, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
Quebecois vs. Parisian French is a good example of that. It's certainly not a problem limited to English. - GrantTalk 03:44, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
I learned a bit of Swedish from my grandmother. When I went to Sweden, I discovered that what I had learned was a rustic dialect with a rather archaic vocabulary, full of expressions minted in North America; and of course I spoke it with an American accent. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 03:54, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
I have some extended family who are first generation immigrants from the Netherlands. The various differences between High Dutch and the myriad local dialects is ridiculous. - Grant Talk 03:56, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
I mentioned in English spelling reform that languages like German and Italian are able to keep their nice neat spelling systems by tying their prestige variants to the written language. In practice, what this means is that the language read on the news and spoken in films is a language very few people speak at home; the grammar is different, as well as the pronunciation, and even if the steamroller effect of mass media makes the prestige forms always available in speech, but sometimes inappropriate in social context. English at least doesn't have that problem. French spelling is in many ways more fucked than English spelling. English spelling doesn't do anything so weird as what French does: the writing includes grammar that no longer makes a lick of difference in the pronunciation. There's even a whole verb tense, with an entirely new set of irregular forms, that is mandatory in formal written French and extinct in the spoken language.
One point of this is that the "racist" tack of some of the text seems nearsighted and parochial. There are other places where they like their linguistic prescription very much. There are modern nations with laws and policies in place that seek to place a language in a position of actual privilege. Icelanders think their language is a national treasure, and have ordained that personal names must conform to its grammar. I don't find them horrible for doing so, but according to the text this is racism. In Quebec, there's an official provincial agency charged with a duty to enforce a French-first policy. I find this at least partly defensible; the article says it's racism. Can Londoners even be racists with Glaswegians? I thought most of them were White. Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 06:04, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
A point on French: While there are old customs in written French that are a bit outmoded, by and large the structure and quantity of verb tenses and moods is far simpler than in English. Dialects in French are also more similar to English than German in that most of the idiosyncrasies are verbal, as opposed to written. As for Bill 101 and the "protection" of the French language in Quebec, it works in principle but not very well in practise. Montreal, as an example, is a largely bilingual city, but this has drawn the ire of the current separatist party currently in government office. Their subsequent meddling (and the over-zealousness of the office in general) has lead to some ridiculous situations, such as the word "pasta" being banned from restaurant menus (though that one was walked back after significant complaints).
Of course, this also doesn't address the fact that Bill 101 is a complete and utter violation of the free speech provisions in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The only reason that it flies is because the government continually invokes the notwithstanding clause of the Charter in order to safeguard the bill. While equating this to "racism" seems foolish, there is some evidence to suggest that overzealous enforcement of language laws has made being an anglophone or foreigner (immigrants coming into the province from out of the country must, with some few exceptions, enrol their children in French schools) in Quebec troublesome. - Grant (Talk) 06:32, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
The French have always had very centralizing and strong prescriptive traditions, much to the detriment of Breton and Languedoc. In France, part of it comes out of the revolution and republican politics; rural areas and rural dialects were strongholds of royalist and Catholic reaction. Parisian French was imposed on them as ruthlessly as the evil, Godless metric system. The Canadian attitude is a bit more understandable; they don't want to get swallowed up by the sea of English. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 16:09, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure I can agree with you when you say the Canadian attitude is more reasonable. Much like the U.S., Canada has a diverse spread of cultural influences across the country, from significant Celtic influences in the Maritimes all the way to the strong cultural traditions of the east Asian diaspora in British Columbia. Quebec is, by and large, the only province that legislates these things, and most importantly, is the only province willing to stomp on the rights of Canadians to do so. I'm actually a bit surprised at your response, given how strong an advocate of free speech you generally are. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding your position, but it seems a bit strange that you would support policies in which government employees come to your local shop and force you to take down your sign because it's not in French. - Grant (Talk) 16:27, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Not saying that I support them, only that I can see where they're coming from and why they feel threatened enough to do things like that. Maybe it will all get better if we start calling them racists, too. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 16:38, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

I see. I certainly don't support calling them racists, but it's also fairly clear that there's discrimination against non-francophones at play. Honestly, I think the problem will be solved on its own. As time goes on, fewer and fewer Quebecois see these sorts of things as necessary. There's a certain weird contradiction in the fact that Quebec is the most aggressively secular province in Canada by a very, very large margin. - Grant (Talk) 16:41, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
I suppose what I mean is that this is a place where the autre pays, autres moeurs principle applies with some force. Other countries have language policies intentionally designed to foster certain languages at the expense of others and certain varieties of language the same way. These countries share key elements of our values and culture, and are not generally considered bad places to live. There will be cultural chauvinism in most of these policies. I don't think that's enough to make them intolerable, much less racist, even if they're unwise. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 04:44, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
I think I understand your views on the subject a bit more clearly now. I would agree with you, except Quebec is neighboured by a province that is completely bilingual (New Brunswick), which has had no difficulties with its culture being subsumed by English, and yet has not had to legislate this sort of thing. Canada is a bilingual nation with two official languages (English and French). Within this framework, I don't particularly see the need for Quebec to legislate, and the majority of urban Quebec is bilingual with or without Bill 101. Rural Quebec is still (for the most part) predominantly French. Considering English-speaking Canadian citizens from other provinces in Canada are permitted to enrol their children in English-only schools in Quebec, it is curious to me that the same right does not extend to foreign nationals moving straight into Quebec from out of the country. - Grant (Talk) 04:50, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Section break[edit]

(As the discussion was getting long)

Acceptable accents change over time (listen to radio/TV programs of a certain age) and can apply to particular roles (for a UK person Fred Dibnah was 'more appropriate' for an industrial history program than 'Oxbridge Professor' or 'cut glass accent') and a BritEnglish speaker will consider AmericanEnglish speaker's 'I wrote him' as 'USspeak' - and a fellow Brit's use as wrong/meaning something completely different (the name was written). (talk) 16:25, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

when I worked as a project leader for the IT section of a multinational company we had a company policy document on what language was appropriate for various levels and forms of communication. (grade level, sentance and word length etc) It was also hammered to staff that their way of speaking limited their oppourtunities within the company. That is a person who is identified as a black gangsta ghetto type by word choice and accent was never going to be allowed to represent the company. In internal correspondance it was not appropriate to use the phrase "fuckin idiot". So YES there are very valid reasons for discrimination. Hamster (talk) 16:37, 20 January 2014 (UTC)


How is there no shibbo-fucking-leth? That's the most famous and could make the most hilarious of assertions on our part96.225.89.127 (talk) 22:25, 15 July 2015 (UTC)

Brings back strange memories, that. back in the 60s someone returned a loaned book in which they had inscribed: "For want of well-pronouncing shibboleth". Can't recall why after all this time or even what book it was but ... Scream!! (talk) 23:28, 15 July 2015 (UTC)

Why is the discrimination of minority languages totally unrelated to the official standard not mentioned?[edit]

This article goes on in length about dialects being discriminated against or the difference between "dialect" and "language" mostly being a political one. But what about people whose mother tongue is Xhosa and who had to learn Afrikaans in school and were prohibited to speak anything but Afrikaans by the government of Apartheid South Africa. Clearly this is a form of linguistic discrimination and one with more overt ethnic/racial overtones and one that is very much ongoing, especially with "native" languages in a postcolonial context. It is something that is even perpetrated by supposedly egalitarian and progressive governments like the FSLN in Nicaragua. When they took power, they started a "national alphabetization crusade" - and when the Miskito and Creole English speakers on the Atlantic Coast said: "Great, where do I sign up?" the response initially was: Learn Spanish, we don't do the program in Miskito or Creole English. That was later reversed, so we should not assume malice where incompetence would suffice, but it is a frustratingly common phenomenon... Avengerofthe BoN (talk) 15:48, 3 August 2015 (UTC)

Probably, because no one was all that familiar with these incidents? Any references where we could head to learn more? - Smerdis of Tlön, LOAD "*", 8, 1. 17:08, 3 August 2015 (UTC)

Orwell's example[edit]

"Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account." What exactly is wrong with this? This sounds like perfectly normal academic English to me. Sure, you couldn't write a Bible translation this way, but you couldn't write an academic paper in verse, either.--Кřěĵ (ṫåɬк) 08:08, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

It no longer sounds extreme because we've become too accustomed to writing like that, which is why when I added that I noted that his Bad Example now sounds relatively tame. - Smerdis of Tlön, LOAD "*", 8, 1. 13:28, 22 January 2016 (UTC)