• Re: show goes on... 1.

    From alexander koryagin@2:5020/400 to Ardith Hinton on Fri Jul 6 22:01:01 2018
    From: alexander koryagin <koryagin@newmail.ru>

    Hi, Ardith Hinton!
    I read your message from 31.08.2013 14:02
    about show goes on... 1..

    Yesterday, at 9pm, without declaring a war, my neighbors bought a
    piano.

    The sentence would still make sense if you drop the first comma.
    I. e. to read, "Yesterday at 9pm, without...".

    I'd omit the first comma there just as Paul did, BTW.


    [Yesterday, without declaring a war, my neighbors bought a piano.]
    No damage for the humor.

    Agreed. IMHO "yesterday" is significant, but the exact time of day probably doesn't matter very much & may even be a distraction.

    "Yesterday" is also a not significant fact. Let me say this: "Without declaring a war my neighbors bought a piano." It is the same joke (it implies, that now I've got a constant headache because their the neighbors' children play scales all evenings). A piano is rather loud instrument.

    In Russia one can buy a piano at 9:00 PM & get it home within 27 hours?? Now I am curious. Unless you're referring to an electronic keyboard, a piano is not the sort of thing one would carry in a shopping bag. The more traditional acoustic piano fits the joke
    better because it doesn't come equipped with earphones & volume controls & suchlike. OTOH, it could easily weigh half a ton(ne) or
    more. So where did these people buy it & who do they know who owns
    a truck/lorry? :-)

    Well, they probably order it at some round the clock Internet shop.
    ;-) Second, IMHO, a piano has a clear meaning - a classic acoustic
    piano. A keyboard is not a piano. It can sound like a piano, flute or
    drum -- but it is not a pretext to call the keyboard a flute or drum. Is
    it?

    [Yesterday, at 9 pm, my neighbors bought a piano.]

    The sentence has lost its sense of humor! The comma was put
    wrongly.

    AFAIC the punctuation is correct there... but the sentence lost its humo(u)r when you omitted "without declaring war". This phrase indicates the narrator does *not* enjoy his neighbours' attempts to
    play the piano.... :-)

    In Russia, this story is probably more vital -- the majority of the Russian town population lives in blocks of flats. They are made of reinforced concrete and have poor sound insulation. So, when somebody in
    the upper flat conducts a constant drill playing you will probably feel yourself uncomfortable.

    <skipped>
    PS: But the final rule in that manual was the following: "if you
    feel that in your sentence there are too many commas, throw out
    some of them. Abundance of commas cause more harm than help and
    hamper reading." ;-)

    Aha! Yes, that's the way I write. Now we're discussing what these
    rules were intended to accomplish. Brits tend to use commas much
    more freely than USAians do. Years ago I was criticized by a (USAian) English instructor for using "too many commas", and thus I
    omit them if I don't think they serve some useful purpose and/or if they're optional where others might not be. In the back of my mind
    always is what will make my writing understandable to the largest
    number of folks out there... most of whom I have never met in person.

    As for Russian punctuation it is as totalitarian as Russian grammar.
    AFAIR, we have no optional commas. From another side, if you call certain commas "optional", who will put them down?

    Bye, Ardith!
    Alexander Koryagin
    fido7.english-tutor 2013
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  • From alexander koryagin@2:5020/400 to Ardith Hinton on Fri Jul 6 22:01:01 2018
    From: alexander koryagin <koryagin@erec.ru>

    Hi, Ardith Hinton!
    I read your message from 05.09.2013 23:52


    So where did these people buy it & who do they know who owns a
    truck/lorry? :-)

    Well, they probably ordered it at some round the clock Internet
    shop. ;-)

    Could be. But while you know when the piano was delivered, do you
    know when it was ordered? By my reckoning a person has "bought" something as soon as they've ordered it and/or agreed to pay for
    it.... :-)

    I agree that such a piano buying sounds not very natural. But with
    time passing it will sound better. In future, people will be able to buy
    pianos like pizza, when delivery takes 10 minutes. ;-)

    Second, IMHO, a piano has a clear meaning - a classic acoustic
    piano.

    That was the original definition, and until fairly recently it was
    the only one. My (2001) OXFORD CANADIAN DICTIONARY also includes, however, a second definition: "an instrument operated in the same
    way and producing the same tone by electronic means". I've heard similar usage around these parts.

    Well, if the man could hear its annoying sound, it means it was an acoustic one. Else he could ask the players to use headphones, and he
    would not have been so pathetic when speaking about war declaration. ;)

    <skipped>
    The above could be described as musicians' jargon & I don't expect
    others to follow suit. You have raised an interesting point, though. As Roy commented elsewhere... the English language is not
    static & we must live with that. OTOH it is, or in the right hands
    *can* be, a precise instrument which does not always benefit from people's attempts to democratize & modernize it. In most cases I
    can guess which dialect folks from across the pond are using. But
    when you tell us you prefer to use USAian English, I may then need
    to ask for clarification as to what your concept of a piano (e.g.)
    might be.... :-)

    After thinking it over, I now agree, that an electronic keyboard can
    be made in such a way that it sounds like an acoustic piano only. BTW,
    there are some differences between a keyboard-synthesizer and an electronic piano. A keyboard has simple electrical buttons, whereas an electronic piano has a complicated keyboard, similar to real one -- a
    person who plays the electronic piano must feel weight of the keys; the
    keys can be stricken with a different force to produce both loud and
    soft sounds. A simple keyboards-synthesizer cannot provide such things.

    In Russia, this story is probably more vital -- the majority of
    the Russian town population lives in blocks of flats. They are
    made of reinforced concrete and have poor sound insulation.

    Many people in Vancouver & the surrounding suburbs live in similar places. We tend to refer to them as apartments or condominiums,

    Wow, what a word. ;=)

    depending on whether the inhabitants rent or own a share of the
    real estate. Either way I understand what you mean. When Dallas & I resided in an "apartment block" we could hear what was going on in
    the bedroom next door... we realized the lady upstairs wore high heels... and we put a shag rug underneath the spinet. ;-)

    I read in my dictionary that "apartment block" is from American English, and "block of flats" is British.

    As for Russian punctuation it is as totalitarian as Russian
    grammar. AFAIR, we have no optional commas.

    Ah. That may explain why Russians tend to think in terms of rules
    WRT English & then feel frustrated because there are so many exceptions. You guys seem to be very good at analyzing patterns, however... an approach which works better for me. If you understand
    why my ancestors might have said "You want beef? I have cattle!" I
    think you will see where I'm coming from. :-)

    No, I don't. Can you explain it?

    Bye, Ardith!Alexander Koryagin
    fido7.english-tutor 2013
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  • From alexander koryagin@2:5020/400 to Ardith Hinton on Fri Jul 6 22:01:01 2018
    From: alexander koryagin <koryagin@erec.ru>

    Hi, Ardith Hinton!
    I read your message from 20.09.2013 23:42
    about show goes on... 1..

    ak>> Well, if the man could hear its annoying sound, it means it was an
    ak>> acoustic one. Else he could ask the players to use headphones, and
    ak>> he would not have been so pathetic when speaking about war
    ak>> declaration. ;)
    AH> Quite possibly. OTOH, a joke is a form of "short story"... a genre
    AH> in which every word counts. To a certain extent you can rely on
    AH> assumptions & stereotypes in a joke. It goes without saying e.g.
    AH> that Pat & Mike are Irish; I'm sure you'll understand why Dallas &
    AH> I often ask "What else did you get for your birthday???" when
    AH> someone is honking a car horn repeatedly & impatiently. If your
    AH> jokes are intended as practice in writing short stories, however,
    AH> I'll hold you to a higher standard. You may need to specify
    AH> concisely what sort of instrument you're alluding to so as not to
    AH> delay the action while the nerds in the audience read the
    AH> dictionary or wonder what else he could have done. :-))

    In most cases I just translate the anecdotes I read from different sources, in Russia. Probably, they are not a good instrument for improving English skills. I think, if somebody wants to acquire a knack
    for English he needs to write something more longer. I post anecdotes
    just to make a bit fun here. At least, I think they are funny.

    ak>> After thinking it over, I now agree, that an electronic keyboard
    ak>> can be made in such a way that it sounds like an acoustic piano
    ak>> only.

    AH> That may be all the owners intend to do with it. Now, what if they
    AH> want to hear the kids practising and/or headphones are an optional
    AH> extra? ;-)

    If the piano was bought for kids it is make thinks easier. Most probably, your neighbors are normal people, and it's hardly they love to
    listen to piano practicing for hours. Espesially, if it sounds awkwardly
    and falsely. ;)

    ak>>>> -- the majority of the Russian town population lives in blocks
    ak>>>> of flats. They are made of reinforced concrete and have poor
    ak>>>> sound insulation.
    AH>>> Many people in Vancouver & the surrounding suburbs live in
    AH>>> similar places. We tend to refer to them as apartments or
    AH>>> condominiums,
    ak>> Wow, what a word. ;=)
    AH> Condominium? From Latin, meaning "with" + "ownership". I guess it
    AH> sounds fancier to some people than "self-owned apartments". In
    AH> informal usage they're often referred to as "condos".... :-)

    Well, it is like heroinium, as the place for heros. ;)

    ak>> I read in my dictionary that "apartment block" is from American
    ak>> English, and "block of flats" is British.
    AH> Yes, that's my take on it. :-)

    I seems to me that "block of flats" is not a phrase that cuts American ears. Is it? Can it be used in the translation for American readers?

    AH> [re the strictness of rules in Russian]
    AH>> That may explain why Russians tend to think in terms of rules WRT
    AH>> English & then feel frustrated because there are so many
    AH>> exceptions. You guys seem to be very good at analyzing patterns,
    AH>> however... an approach which works better for me. If you
    AH>> understand why my ancestors might have said "You want beef? I have
    AH>> cattle!" I think you will see where I'm coming from. :-)
    ak>> No, I don't. Can you explain it?

    AH> Uh-huh. I'll try not to be too wordy... [chuckle].

    AH> The above example is my somewhat tongue-in-cheek explanation of
    AH> how.... after the Norman invasion of 1066... native speakers of
    AH> English learned to use different words for "meat on the hoof" &
    AH> "meat on the table". Before that the people who supplied food for <skipped>
    AH> it is plural already. A dictionary which includes word origins can
    AH> be a valuable resource in demystifying English for advanced
    AH> students like you & others here.

    Thanks for the explanation. Indeed, translation became much much easier for a modern person than for people from 197x, for instance. When
    I translate, I have good dictionaries, internet, ready translations....
    A modern translator can easily find not the meaning of a word/phrase --
    he can find many passages in real books where such a word/phrase meets.

    Bye, Ardith!
    Alexander Koryagin
    fido7.english-tutor 2013
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