An actual error found in C: The Complete Nonsense!

Discussion in 'C Programming' started by Seebs, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. Seebs

    Seebs Guest

    Was browsing this, and stumbled across a comment about his explanation
    of structure declarations.

    Whaddya know: It had an error. I claimed that the declaration which
    completes the structure type was a "definition" rather than a "declaration",
    but of course, this is not so; structure types are not defined, but declared.

    I've corrected this. Also a couple of pure typos (a missing period, for
    instance). Haven't found anything else interesting. Shame no one caught
    this earlier, but I guess a single error out of ~100k of HTML isn't *too*
    awful. :p

    -s
    --
    Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach /
    http://www.seebs.net/log/ <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) <-- get educated!
    I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.
     
    Seebs, Nov 9, 2010
    #1
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  2. On Nov 9, 10:25 am, Seebs <> wrote:
    >
    > Whaddya know:  It had an error.  I claimed that the declaration which
    > completes the structure type was a "definition" rather than a "declaration",
    > but of course, this is not so; structure types are not defined, but declared.
    >

    The C standard can't legislate over the English language. It can
    suggest terms, but they won't always stick.
     
    Malcolm McLean, Nov 9, 2010
    #2
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  3. Malcolm McLean <> writes:
    > On Nov 9, 10:25 am, Seebs <> wrote:
    >>
    >> Whaddya know:  It had an error.  I claimed that the declaration
    >> which completes the structure type was a "definition" rather
    >> than a "declaration", but of course, this is not so; structure
    >> types are not defined, but declared.
    >>

    > The C standard can't legislate over the English language. It can
    > suggest terms, but they won't always stick.


    No, it can't, and it doesn't try to. But it's written in English,
    and what it can and does do is define the way it uses certain English
    words and phrases. The standard defines the term "definition";
    that doesn't affect anyone's use of that word in contexts outside C.

    The alternatives would be (a) to invent an entirely new term for
    each concept (which would make it nearly impossible to read), or
    (b) to avoid redefining any terms and leave the whole thing subject
    to interpretation.

    As much as I complain about the way some terms are defined (or left
    undefined), overall it does a good job of presenting the language
    definition with reasonable compromises between precision and clarity.

    --
    Keith Thompson (The_Other_Keith) <http://www.ghoti.net/~kst>
    Nokia
    "We must do something. This is something. Therefore, we must do this."
    -- Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, "Yes Minister"
     
    Keith Thompson, Nov 9, 2010
    #3
  4. Seebs

    Seebs Guest

    On 2010-11-09, Malcolm McLean <> wrote:
    > On Nov 9, 10:25?am, Seebs <> wrote:
    >> Whaddya know: ?It had an error. ?I claimed that the declaration which
    >> completes the structure type was a "definition" rather than a "declaration",
    >> but of course, this is not so; structure types are not defined, but declared.


    > The C standard can't legislate over the English language. It can
    > suggest terms, but they won't always stick.


    But it can correctly define how terms apply to things within the C language,
    and the distinction I was drawing between a "declaration" and a "definition"
    for a structure type simply does not exist in C. My bad.

    -s
    --
    Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach /
    http://www.seebs.net/log/ <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) <-- get educated!
    I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.
     
    Seebs, Nov 9, 2010
    #4
  5. Seebs

    Mark Wooding Guest

    Seebs <> writes:

    > But it can correctly define how terms apply to things within the C
    > language,


    Perhaps more precisely: the standard can (and does) contain definitions
    for words in the senses used within its own text. By extension, it is
    useful to adopt these definitions when discussing the text of the
    standard and the programming language it specifies.

    -- [mdw]
     
    Mark Wooding, Nov 9, 2010
    #5
  6. Seebs

    Seebs Guest

    On 2010-11-09, Mark Wooding <> wrote:
    > Seebs <> writes:
    >> But it can correctly define how terms apply to things within the C
    >> language,


    > Perhaps more precisely: the standard can (and does) contain definitions
    > for words in the senses used within its own text. By extension, it is
    > useful to adopt these definitions when discussing the text of the
    > standard and the programming language it specifies.


    Yeah. Basically, I was remembering the declare/define distinction roughly
    the way "everyone knows" it works, but it doesn't work that way for
    structure declarations. (And to show how persistent this is, I actually
    typed "defi" before I caught myself.)

    -s
    --
    Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach /
    http://www.seebs.net/log/ <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) <-- get educated!
    I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.
     
    Seebs, Nov 10, 2010
    #6
  7. Seebs <> wrote:
    > Was browsing this, and stumbled across a comment
    > about his explanation of structure declarations.


    Whilst browsing what? Whose explanation?

    How is a first time clc reader supposed to know who
    or what you're talking about?

    > ... Shame no one caught this earlier, ...


    Perhaps if you hadn't written such trashy diatribe, they
    might have.

    --
    Peter
     
    Peter Nilsson, Nov 10, 2010
    #7
  8. Seebs

    Seebs Guest

    On 2010-11-10, Peter Nilsson <> wrote:
    > Seebs <> wrote:
    >> Was browsing this, and stumbled across a comment
    >> about his explanation of structure declarations.


    > Whilst browsing what?


    C: The Complete Nonsense.

    > Whose explanation?


    Schildt's.

    > How is a first time clc reader supposed to know who
    > or what you're talking about?


    By searching on the document. If they care, which they may well not.

    > Perhaps if you hadn't written such trashy diatribe, they
    > might have.


    If you could turn the phrase "trashy diatribe" into a concrete criticsm,
    I might be able to address it.

    -s
    --
    Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach /
    http://www.seebs.net/log/ <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) <-- get educated!
    I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.
     
    Seebs, Nov 10, 2010
    #8
  9. Seebs

    Seebs Guest

    On 2010-11-10, Vrtt <-muncher.com> wrote:
    > "Seebs" <> wrote in message
    > news:...
    >> Was browsing this, and stumbled across a comment about his explanation
    >> of structure declarations.
    >>

    > Is this the right URL?:
    >
    > http://www.seebs.net/c/c_tcn4e.html
    >
    > It says "Last revision: April 9th, 2010"


    You have found a meta-error -- I forgot to update that.

    -s
    --
    Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach /
    http://www.seebs.net/log/ <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) <-- get educated!
    I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.
     
    Seebs, Nov 10, 2010
    #9
  10. Seebs

    Gene Guest

    On Nov 9, 3:25 am, Seebs <> wrote:
    >
    > I've corrected this.  Also a couple of pure typos (a missing period, for
    > instance).  Haven't found anything else interesting.  Shame no one caught
    > this earlier, but I guess a single error out of ~100k of HTML isn't *too*
    > awful.  :p
    >


    There are more usage problems you might consider fixing. Delete the
    comma in

    "I wrote about it, in the previous version of this page."

    Fix the diction in

    "Until, more recently, ..."

    by saying instead "Recently, ..."

    This is a misuse of the em-dash:

    "I spent about a decade on the C committee—and unlike Schildt"

    It's cleaner to use two sentences.

    "I spent about a decade on the C committee. Unlike Schildt..."

    This is semi-colon abuse.

    "...no longer the mildly autistic kid who had never really studied
    writing or communication; I'm now a mildly autistic adult"

    Two sentences are much better. Regarding

    "... good grasp on the C language ...,"

    most people don't physically seize languages. This is better said

    "... good grasp of the C language ..."

    More semi-colon abuse appears in "around for comparisons; in some
    cases..."

    This is misuse of the word "which:"

    "They are criticisms of code (or writing) which may well have been
    revised two or three times."

    Either "which" must be replaced by "that," or a comma must preceed.
    The former is better.

    More diction problems here:

    "This game is easier with the 2nd and 3rd editions, because of the
    prevalence of the incorrect void return type for main(),..."

    Rather, say

    "This game is easier with the 2nd and 3rd editions because the
    incorrect void return type for main() is so prevalent,..."

    Out of time for more. Hope this helps improve the page.
     
    Gene, Nov 11, 2010
    #10
  11. Seebs

    Seebs Guest

    On 2010-11-11, Gene <> wrote:
    > There are more usage problems you might consider fixing.


    I'll look at 'em.

    > Delete the
    > comma in


    > "I wrote about it, in the previous version of this page."


    I like it. It's not a correct/incorrect thing; were I speaking the sentence,
    I'd pause there.


    > Fix the diction in
    >
    > "Until, more recently, ..."
    >
    > by saying instead "Recently, ..."


    I don't see anything wrong with it.

    > This is a misuse of the em-dash:
    >
    > "I spent about a decade on the C committee?and unlike Schildt"


    > It's cleaner to use two sentences.


    Could you explain what specific rule you think this breaks?

    > This is semi-colon abuse.


    > "...no longer the mildly autistic kid who had never really studied
    > writing or communication; I'm now a mildly autistic adult"


    > Two sentences are much better.


    I don't see why. I used the semicolon because the two statements are
    related.

    > Regarding
    >
    > "... good grasp on the C language ...,"
    >
    > most people don't physically seize languages. This is better said
    >
    > "... good grasp of the C language ..."


    I don't think the preposition matters.

    > More semi-colon abuse appears in "around for comparisons; in some
    > cases..."
    >
    > This is misuse of the word "which:"
    >
    > "They are criticisms of code (or writing) which may well have been
    > revised two or three times."
    >
    > Either "which" must be replaced by "that," or a comma must preceed.
    > The former is better.


    This is not an actual rule of English. I point you to _Style_, by
    Joseph M. Williams, who addresses the which/that rule. The rule was
    invented in 1906 with no prior art showing it to be the case (see
    Chapter 10).

    > More diction problems here:


    I'm not sure what you mean by "diction problems".

    > Out of time for more. Hope this helps improve the page.


    I'm not a big fan of purely stylistic quibbles about English; my
    writing voice is intentionally more like spoken language in some
    ways (optional commas used to show pauses), and a lot of the
    rules people like to quote are made-up rules which do not reflect
    historical usage, or add value to the language.

    I'm not saying I don't find writing style interesting -- I have read
    a fair number of style guides over the years, and I always enjoy
    talking about them -- but I am saying that I don't really care whether
    something breaks one of the many arbitrary rules people have sometimes
    attached to English which do not actually reflect usage.

    I've even been known to use the passive voice.

    -s
    --
    Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach /
    http://www.seebs.net/log/ <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) <-- get educated!
    I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.
     
    Seebs, Nov 11, 2010
    #11
  12. Seebs

    James Harris Guest

    On Nov 11, 12:15 am, Seebs <> wrote:
    > On 2010-11-11, Gene <> wrote:


    ....

    > > Out of time for more.  Hope this helps improve the page.

    >
    > I'm not a big fan of purely stylistic quibbles about English; my
    > writing voice is intentionally more like spoken language in some
    > ways (optional commas used to show pauses), and a lot of the
    > rules people like to quote are made-up rules which do not reflect
    > historical usage, or add value to the language.


    The written word can 'flow' pleasingly, much as the spoken word can,
    if certain norms are ahdered to. Overall (if you care about the
    written form) I would say Gene's suggestions are good ones.

    Taking the comma as a case in point, if Gene quoted a complete
    sentence the comma in it can be misleading. I had to scan it a few
    times thinking I had missed something or misunderstood it. The comma
    there suggests a parenthetical inclusion but then the sentence (as
    quoted) just stops.

    Commas are optional in some places but try as I might I just can't
    seem to make that one of them. :-(

    If you want the reader to pause a comma is maybe not ideal. Commas can
    group written thoughts and, IIRC, they are the only on-the-line
    punctuation mark for which a pause is not required when reading.
    Depending on context a dash may be appropriate.

    > I'm not saying I don't find writing style interesting -- I have read
    > a fair number of style guides over the years, and I always enjoy
    > talking about them -- but I am saying that I don't really care whether
    > something breaks one of the many arbitrary rules people have sometimes
    > attached to English which do not actually reflect usage.


    Gene's suggestions are minor changes, it's true, compared with the
    substance of the text but most of them seem to me to be helpful.

    BTW, if anyone is interested there is newsgroup

    alt.usage.english

    where discussions of similar issues tend to be well supported in terms
    of both quantity and quality.

    James
     
    James Harris, Nov 12, 2010
    #12
  13. Seebs

    Seebs Guest

    On 2010-11-12, James Harris <> wrote:
    > The written word can 'flow' pleasingly, much as the spoken word can,
    > if certain norms are ahdered to. Overall (if you care about the
    > written form) I would say Gene's suggestions are good ones.


    I do care about it, but style is... well, sometimes a matter of personal
    taste. I tend to favor a written style that has flow similar to spoken
    style.

    > Taking the comma as a case in point, if Gene quoted a complete
    > sentence the comma in it can be misleading. I had to scan it a few
    > times thinking I had missed something or misunderstood it. The comma
    > there suggests a parenthetical inclusion but then the sentence (as
    > quoted) just stops.


    Yeah. This is why some people don't use them, and I certainly tend to
    a few more commas than I need.

    There's an apocryphal story that Oscar Wilde once spent all day writing;
    at lunch, someone asked him what he'd done with his morning, and he said he'd
    removed a comma. At dinner, he said he'd put it back.

    > If you want the reader to pause a comma is maybe not ideal. Commas can
    > group written thoughts and, IIRC, they are the only on-the-line
    > punctuation mark for which a pause is not required when reading.
    > Depending on context a dash may be appropriate.


    Could be.

    > Gene's suggestions are minor changes, it's true, compared with the
    > substance of the text but most of them seem to me to be helpful.


    I still have no clue what he meant by a "diction error". I always thought
    "diction" was pronunciation.

    > BTW, if anyone is interested there is newsgroup
    >
    > alt.usage.english
    >
    > where discussions of similar issues tend to be well supported in terms
    > of both quantity and quality.


    It's on the list of newsgroups to which I plan to subscribe when I think
    of it while I'm at the newsgroup selector list.

    -s
    --
    Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach /
    http://www.seebs.net/log/ <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) <-- get educated!
    I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.
     
    Seebs, Nov 12, 2010
    #13
  14. Seebs

    Tim Rentsch Guest

    James Harris <> writes:

    > On Nov 11, 12:15 am, Seebs <> wrote:
    >> On 2010-11-11, Gene <> wrote:

    >
    > [snip several levels of commentary]
    >
    > Gene's suggestions are minor changes, it's true, compared with the
    > substance of the text but most of them seem to me to be helpful.


    My impression is that many or most of Gene's suggestions were
    either off the mark or just wrong. I do think Seebs's
    writing could use some improvement (sorry Peter), even
    accepting his style choice of writing informally (which
    personally I have no problem with), but the changes suggested
    don't IMO have a very good batting average in that regard.
     
    Tim Rentsch, Nov 13, 2010
    #14
  15. Seebs

    Seebs Guest

    On 2010-11-13, Tim Rentsch <> wrote:
    > My impression is that many or most of Gene's suggestions were
    > either off the mark or just wrong. I do think Seebs's
    > writing could use some improvement (sorry Peter), even
    > accepting his style choice of writing informally (which
    > personally I have no problem with), but the changes suggested
    > don't IMO have a very good batting average in that regard.


    I don't at all dispute that my writing could improve. It was the
    specific changes I wasn't so sure about. Beloved Spouse is constantly
    reminding me that there are plenty of future opportunities to use
    commas, so I don't have to use them all now in case we run out later.

    -s
    --
    Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach /
    http://www.seebs.net/log/ <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) <-- get educated!
    I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.
     
    Seebs, Nov 13, 2010
    #15
  16. Seebs

    James Harris Guest

    On Nov 12, 7:21 pm, Seebs <> wrote:

    ....

    > There's an apocryphal story that Oscar Wilde once spent all day writing;
    > at lunch, someone asked him what he'd done with his morning, and he said he'd
    > removed a comma.  At dinner, he said he'd put it back.


    I think I make the same amount of progress some days. :)

    ....

    > I still have no clue what he meant by a "diction error".  I always thought
    > "diction" was pronunciation.


    So did I. I just remembered to check:

    http://www.onelook.com/?w=diction&ls=a

    Looks like he's right here too. For example, "the choice of words used
    in a speech or piece of writing."

    James
     
    James Harris, Nov 15, 2010
    #16
  17. Seebs

    Seebs Guest

    On 2010-11-15, James Harris <> wrote:
    > So did I. I just remembered to check:


    > http://www.onelook.com/?w=diction&ls=a


    > Looks like he's right here too. For example, "the choice of words used
    > in a speech or piece of writing."


    Ah-hah. Now if only there'd been any hint as to what was specifically
    wrong with those words...

    -s
    --
    Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach /
    http://www.seebs.net/log/ <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) <-- get educated!
    I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.
     
    Seebs, Nov 15, 2010
    #17
  18. Seebs

    Chad Guest

    On Nov 13, 11:48 am, Seebs <> wrote:
    > On 2010-11-13, Tim Rentsch <> wrote:
    >
    > > My impression is that many or most of Gene's suggestions were
    > > either off the mark or just wrong.  I do think Seebs's
    > > writing could use some improvement (sorry Peter), even
    > > accepting his style choice of writing informally (which
    > > personally I have no problem with), but the changes suggested
    > > don't IMO have a very good batting average in that regard.

    >
    > I don't at all dispute that my writing could improve.  It was the
    > specific changes I wasn't so sure about.  Beloved Spouse is constantly
    > reminding me that there are plenty of future opportunities to use
    > commas, so I don't have to use them all now in case we run out later.
    >



    <off topic>
    So I guess spinoza was wrong when he said that you were gay.
    </off topic>
     
    Chad, Nov 15, 2010
    #18
  19. In article <>,
    Chad <> wrote:
    >On Nov 13, 11:48 am, Seebs <> wrote:
    >> On 2010-11-13, Tim Rentsch <> wrote:
    >>
    >> > My impression is that many or most of Gene's suggestions were
    >> > either off the mark or just wrong.  I do think Seebs's
    >> > writing could use some improvement (sorry Peter), even
    >> > accepting his style choice of writing informally (which
    >> > personally I have no problem with), but the changes suggested
    >> > don't IMO have a very good batting average in that regard.

    >>
    >> I don't at all dispute that my writing could improve.  It was the
    >> specific changes I wasn't so sure about.  Beloved Spouse is constantly
    >> reminding me that there are plenty of future opportunities to use
    >> commas, so I don't have to use them all now in case we run out later.
    >>

    >
    >
    ><off topic>
    >So I guess spinoza was wrong when he said that you were gay.
    ></off topic>
    >


    I don't see how that follows. So-called "gay marriage" is becoming
    increasingly common nowadays.

    --
    They say compassion is a virtue, but I don't have the time!

    - David Byrne -
     
    Kenny McCormack, Nov 15, 2010
    #19
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