[Ffmpeg-cvslog] CVS: ffmpeg/libavcodec avcodec.h, 1.393, 1.394ffv1.c, 1.32, 1.33 g726.c, 1.5, 1.6 h263.c, 1.279, 1.280 huffyuv.c, 1.61, 1.62 mpeg12.c, 1.235, 1.236 mpegvideo.c, 1.480, 1.481 snow.c, 1.60, 1.61

The Wanderer inverseparadox
Mon May 9 21:09:35 CEST 2005

Phew. That got a little long.

M?ns Rullg?rd wrote:

> The Wanderer <inverseparadox at comcast.net> writes:
>> M?ns Rullg?rd wrote:

>>> Webster's Dictionary lists all three forms.  A google search also
>>> turns up a fair number of matches for all of them, with
>>> unofficial in the lead, followed by inofficial, and nonofficial
>>> coming in last. I vote for leaving the code as is.  It's only
>>> been there for an hour or two, but changing code to use a
>>> different synonym makes little sense to me.
>> I'd vote for changing it (if I had a vote) - I recognize
>> "unofficial" as valid and common, and "non-official" as valid but
>> not particularly common, but regardless of what dictionaries say
>> (the more descriptivist dictionaries in particular) I don't think
>> "inofficial" is a word.
> What gives you the authority to say whether or not something is a
> word?

...that opens up an entire completely separate semi-philosophical
discussion, which you almost certainly did not mean to address, and
which definitely does not belong on this list. Rather than embark on
that tangent, I'll limit my response to three points.

One, as indicated by the use of the phrase "I don't think", the above is
represents my own experience and - to the extent relevant - opinion; if
I'd intended it as an absolute decree that "'X' is not a word", I'd have
phrased it that way.

Two, unlike many (though certainly not all) posting members of these
lists, I am a native speaker of English; this does not necessarily trump
dictionaries (though see below), but it does give me a certain limited
authority (excuse me) on the subject.

Third, the fact that a word appears in a dictionary is not necessarily
conclusive. Some though not all dictionaries appear to take it as their
duty to include every single usage which gains commonality, no matter
how outwardly incorrect that usage may be. This approach to the rules of
languange is called "descriptivist" - it says that the rules and
constraints of a language should simply be described as they are
observed to exist. I take that viewpoint in many ways, but some ways I
do prefer the opposing viewpoint, which is called "prescriptivist" - it
says that the rules and constraints of a language should be prescribed
by more-or-less-fixed rules.

As I said, the descriptivist approach has merit; if it were rejected
entirely, then the "officially sanctioned" image of a language would
never change, and no language could evolve. However, some dictionaries
appear to rush to adopt any change in usage which appears on the scene;
it appears (by the fact that I feel impelled to make this argument) that
I maintain that the Right Thing to Do is, in some cases, instead to
*resist* some types of changes in the language - to delay sanctioning
them as valid unless and until they gain full common currency despite
the lack of such acknowledgement. (Unfortunately, it's looking like such
usages as having "literal" mean "figurative" are coming to gain such
currency... helped along by the fact that some dictionaries have
incorporated that offensive usage long since.)

Whether or not Webster's is one of the rush-to-keep-at-the-head-of-the-
pack dictionaries I don't know, since I don't keep a list of these
things, but it wouldn't in the least surprise me. In any case, because
of the fact that two native speakers of English (one British, one
American) have so far cited having never previously heard of the usage
"inofficial" being considered valid - not merely not being familiar with
the usage, but having never *encountered* it - that would seem to
indicate that the usage is comparatively recent, and a likely candidate
for the process described above; the spelling's popularity on Google can
almost certainly be ascribed simply to people misspelling "unofficial"
(whether by typo or by simple ignorance).

>> Certainly I wouldn't think of it as a possible candidate for how to
>> express something, and if I saw it in a piece of documentation or
>> fiction (those being the two things I review) I'd recommend
>> changing it - it simply does not seem right to me.
> If you have never seen a word, which is listed in common
> dictionaries, it would seem more indicative of limited reading on you
> part, than of the dictionary being flawed.

Okay, I intended to put the above Point-Three "dictionaries" stuff here,
but it came out of the metaphorical pen right where it is; see above.

Also, I've been reading pretty much daily - primarily fiction, some
nonfiction, quite a bit of various periodical publications, and ample
online text - since I was five years old; this is not necessarily
comprehensive and certainly not conclusive, but I think it would be a
little hard (although not necessarily impossible) to justify describing
my reading as "limited".

> Anyway, I did some dictionary reading.  Websters's Dictionary, 1913
> edition (copyright expired), lists only inofficial as a separate
> entry, but allows for un- to be prefixed to any adjective.
> The same dictionary, under the entry for un-, says this:
>   In- is prefixed mostly to words of Latin origin, or else to words
>   formed by Latin suffixes; un- is of much wider application, and is
>   attached at will to almost any adjective, or participle used
>   adjectively, or adverb, from which it may be desired to form a
>   corresponding negative adjective or adverb, and is also, but less
>   freely, prefixed to nouns.
> It also happens that the word "official" is of Latin origin, so in-
> and un- would seem equally correct.

Hmm. That does counter part of my argument, apparently, not least the
rush-to-keep-ahead aspect as pertains to Webster's - although I might
argue, in a reversal of one aspect of my rant above, that (bias-based
assumption alert!) because "inofficial" is not in common usage
"unofficial" ought to be the preferred construct.

       The Wanderer

Warning: Simply because I argue an issue does not mean I agree with any
side of it.

A government exists to serve its citizens, not to control them.

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