Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Boring Essays and Interesting Adjectives

Deadlines are approaching again, and procrastination methods grow thin; and so I turn yet again to my trusty blog for distraction.

My other primary source of procrastination at the moment is Mark Forsyth's new book "The Elements of Eloquence". It's brilliant. My favourite part so far has been about Tolkien's "Green Great Dragon", which featured in one of his earliest stories, written while he was a child. His mother corrected him and said it had to be a "Great Green Dragon", which discouraged Tolkien so much that we are lucky that The Lord of the Rings exists. Forsyth explains why one doesn't speak of Green Great Dragons:
"The reason for Tolkien's mistake, since you ask, is that adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you'll sound like a maniac. It's an odd thing that every English speaker uses that list, but almost none of us could write it out. And as size comes before colour, green great dragons can't exist."
And at the moment that seems far more interesting than whether social sciences and theoretical sciences can all fit under some deductive nominological covering laws, or whether rational and theoretical explanations are fundamentally different, or whether the word cause has three unrelated meanings (I think some of those things are relevant to my essay).

I'm also wondering whether there exist any Philosophers who don't make complete fools of themselves when trying to talk about Mathematics and Science; and if they are out there somewhere, whether their numbers are smaller than the Mathematicians and Scientists who can talk about Philosophy without making a fool of themselves. If one more Philosopher uses the word 'quantum physics' in serious argument, I may give up all hope. Hearing someone from the Royal Institute of Philosophy try to talk about Turing machines earlier this month almost left me in need of psychological help.

PS:
In case you were hoping news about General Life, with optional comma splices: It's getting cold, I saw hail and snow, I'm getting tired of my very creepy flat mates watching me intently while I prepare food without speaking even when spoken to, the old milk in the communal fridge has come alive and is about to declare war on humanity, but no-one is brave enough to claim responsibility for leaving it there or to remove it, someone finally got tired of the mound of unwashed dishes and threw them all away, leaving lots of people a bit upset, I went to Hanley today to try get my phone fixed, and came to the conclusion that this part of England is dead (the shops were closed, the bars were closed, the restaurants were empty, and the conclusion we made about the one open nightclub was that the only thing more undesirable than standing in the queue to get in would be the possibility of going in), my sleep cycle is now almost completely reversed, which makes even 11 A.M. lectures unpleasant, luckily I have Wednesdays and Thursdays completely free, not to mention coffee, to recover, time is flying faster and faster (leaving in a month? didn't I just arrive?), it turns out that there are some English people at Keele too (sometimes it seems like they're the minority here), I think that's enough for now, maybe more soon, otherwise see Twitter and Facebook.







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