OT: FAQ and GNU
Mario Castelán Castro
marioxcc.MT at yandex.com
Fri Oct 13 16:05:52 CEST 2017
On 12/10/17 17:50, Robert J. Hansen wrote:
>> The observation that one, some, many, or all people use a linguistic
>> construct in an incorrect way do not change the fact that it is
> It quite definitely does. Unlike, say, French or Icelandic, where
> there's an actual institution charged with the development of the
> language, the *only* definition of correctness in English is found in
> whether it conforms to everyday usage in the community in question.
Your argument is unsound, because the inference is unjustified. The
possibilities that a language is regulated by an official body or
defined by majority usage are not exhaustive.
Since you are talking about the definition of the English language, and
noticed that there is no official definition, then I contend that there
is no _definition_ of the English language at all. However, from this
does not follow that one individual or a majority are allowed to
dispense of any rules and do as they please while claiming that they are
speaking English. Instead, one must apply the well-known rules of
English and use common sense in determining which words one will regard
as legitimate. Leaving this judgment to majority amounts to the ad
populum fallacy and to such blatant absurdities as regarding the words
“u”, “gotta” and “wanna” as valid synonyms of “you”, “got to” and “want to”.
In the case of the word “Linux”, my argument is that this word was
introduced (at least in informatics) for a specific use: To refer to a
kernel. For an operating system based on Linux, the phrase “Linux-based
OS” is already accurate and unambiguous, and for one that includes GNU,
“GNU/Linux” is. Thus it is not necessity, but plain sloppiness what
explains it use as something else. Hence that I hold that any other use
should be rejected as illegitimate, in analogy with the sloppiness
behind the aforementioned aberrations (“u” for “you”, et cetera).
As a point of contrast: in the case of mathematics, it is necessary to
either coin entirely new words or use a pre-existing words with new
meanings. However, in this case it is justified because coining a new
words for each concept would require possible hundreds of words specific
to mathematics. The consequences are bad on all sides: First this
abundance of words would be hard to remember. Second, mathematicians
would hardly agree on a single new word for each concept leading to
diverging terminology. Third, the abundance of strange words would
contribute to the perception of mathematics by the general public as an
intimidating and incomprehensible subject.
In short: Your argument "_many_ people use “Linux” to refer to any
Linux-based operating system, therefore it is correct English” is a big
Do not eat animals; respect them as you respect people.
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