bug#28790: [PATCH] Replaced "which see" with "q.v.".

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bug#28790: [PATCH] Replaced "which see" with "q.v.".

jrw@pobox.com
This patch fixes a grammar issue that's been bugging me for a while.
Full description from the patch:

While it may seem strange to replace an English phrase with a
relatively obscure Latin abbreviation, there are a number of
advantages.  As someone whose first language is English, I've never
seen "which see" used anywhere else the way it is in Emacs.  It looks
totally ungrammatical to me, and I found it quite confusing when I
first encountered it.  It's a difficult phrase to search for because
it's formed from such common words.  OTOH, q.v. is easily searchable,
it has a well-defined meaning, and the conventional way to use it
serves as a drop-in replacement for the way "which see" is used in
Emacs.

0001-Replaced-which-see-with-q.v.patch (226K) Download Attachment
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bug#28790: [PATCH] Replaced "which see" with "q.v.".

Nick Helm
On Wed, 11 Oct 2017 at 14:22:50 -0700, John Williams wrote:

> This patch fixes a grammar issue that's been bugging me for a while.
> Full description from the patch:
>
> While it may seem strange to replace an English phrase with a
> relatively obscure Latin abbreviation, there are a number of
> advantages.  As someone whose first language is English, I've never
> seen "which see" used anywhere else the way it is in Emacs.  It looks
> totally ungrammatical to me, and I found it quite confusing when I
> first encountered it.

Please don't do this.

I agree that the phrase "which see" may appear awkward to many fluent
English readers, but I don't think correctness is at issue here. "Which
see" and qv are recommended and discouraged in equal measure by the
style manuals I have here, but they all agree that both usages are
correct.

More importantly though, I think "which see" is a more accessible form
for those who are less familiar with written English. Awkwardness aside,
the writer's meaning should be fairly obvious to most readers without
reaching for the dictionary. In a sense, "which see" is an intuitively
shortened version of "which you should see for more information".

"Quod vide" (qv) is arguably more conventional, but for those who
haven't encountered the abbreviation or learned its meaning, it's a much
tougher nut to crack.

If there /must/ be a change here, I'd advocate removing the phrase
altogether. When a text mentions a related topic, it creates an implicit
suggestion for further reading – there's no need to point it out. This
is especially true for Emacs, where almost all such topics exist and
are in the same resource – Emacs itself – making qv redundant.



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bug#28790: [PATCH] Replaced "which see" with "q.v.".

Drew Adams
+1 to what Nick Helm said, every point.



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bug#28790: [PATCH] Replaced "which see" with "q.v.".

Eli Zaretskii
In reply to this post by jrw@pobox.com
> From: John Williams <[hidden email]>
> Date: Wed, 11 Oct 2017 14:22:50 -0700
>
> While it may seem strange to replace an English phrase with a
> relatively obscure Latin abbreviation, there are a number of
> advantages.  As someone whose first language is English, I've never
> seen "which see" used anywhere else the way it is in Emacs.  It looks
> totally ungrammatical to me, and I found it quite confusing when I
> first encountered it.  It's a difficult phrase to search for because
> it's formed from such common words.  OTOH, q.v. is easily searchable,
> it has a well-defined meaning, and the conventional way to use it
> serves as a drop-in replacement for the way "which see" is used in
> Emacs.

Thanks, but we've discussed similar ideas in the past, and eventually
decided not to install such changes, certainly not summarily replacing
every "which see" with a "q.v.".

The absolute majority of your proposed changes are in the doc strings,
where we already have a direct link to the documentation of a symbol
whose name precedes "which see".  So whether the reader understands
that or doesn't, the link is already there to click on, and no harm is
done by a relatively rare use of this phrase.



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bug#28790: Replaced "which see" with "q.v.".

Richard Stallman
In reply to this post by jrw@pobox.com
[[[ To any NSA and FBI agents reading my email: please consider    ]]]
[[[ whether defending the US Constitution against all enemies,     ]]]
[[[ foreign or domestic, requires you to follow Snowden's example. ]]]

"This is about foobar, which see" is a customary usage in English.
Perhaps not used so much nowadays as 50 years ago.  People who don't
know it will have a good chance of figuring it out from the meanings
of the two words."

As for "q.v.", that is an erudite abbreviation that most people won't know,
and won't have any way to figure out.

Thus, this change would make the text harder to understand.  Please
don't make this change.

--
Dr Richard Stallman
President, Free Software Foundation (gnu.org, fsf.org)
Internet Hall-of-Famer (internethalloffame.org)
Skype: No way! See stallman.org/skype.html.




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bug#28790: Replaced "which see" with "q.v.".

jrw@pobox.com
What about just deleting it in all the places where it adds nothing
because there's already a hyperlink?

On Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 5:26 PM, Richard Stallman <[hidden email]> wrote:

> [[[ To any NSA and FBI agents reading my email: please consider    ]]]
> [[[ whether defending the US Constitution against all enemies,     ]]]
> [[[ foreign or domestic, requires you to follow Snowden's example. ]]]
>
> "This is about foobar, which see" is a customary usage in English.
> Perhaps not used so much nowadays as 50 years ago.  People who don't
> know it will have a good chance of figuring it out from the meanings
> of the two words."
>
> As for "q.v.", that is an erudite abbreviation that most people won't know,
> and won't have any way to figure out.
>
> Thus, this change would make the text harder to understand.  Please
> don't make this change.
>
> --
> Dr Richard Stallman
> President, Free Software Foundation (gnu.org, fsf.org)
> Internet Hall-of-Famer (internethalloffame.org)
> Skype: No way! See stallman.org/skype.html.
>



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bug#28790: Replaced "which see" with "q.v.".

Eli Zaretskii
> From: John Williams <[hidden email]>
> Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2017 11:34:34 -0700
> Cc: [hidden email]
>
> What about just deleting it in all the places where it adds nothing
> because there's already a hyperlink?

It doesn't add nothing, it adds something.



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bug#28790: [PATCH] Replaced "which see" with "q.v.".

Glenn Morris-3
In reply to this post by Eli Zaretskii
Eli Zaretskii wrote:

> The absolute majority of your proposed changes are in the doc strings,
> where we already have a direct link to the documentation of a symbol
> whose name precedes "which see".  So whether the reader understands
> that or doesn't, the link is already there to click on, and no harm is
> done by a relatively rare use of this phrase.

IMO there is no benefit either, as you explain above. "which see" is an
anachronism in the age of hyperlinks. Is there any logic to where these
"rare uses" appear - why do some links get them and most not? If there's
no logic and no benefit, they should be removed as unnecessary verbiage.



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bug#28790: [PATCH] Replaced "which see" with "q.v.".

jrw@pobox.com
I was trying to make the least disruptive change I could, but if simply removing the redundant text would be more acceptable, I'd be happy to rework my patch to do that.

On Oct 14, 2017 3:07 PM, "Glenn Morris" <[hidden email]> wrote:
Eli Zaretskii wrote:

> The absolute majority of your proposed changes are in the doc strings,
> where we already have a direct link to the documentation of a symbol
> whose name precedes "which see".  So whether the reader understands
> that or doesn't, the link is already there to click on, and no harm is
> done by a relatively rare use of this phrase.

IMO there is no benefit either, as you explain above. "which see" is an
anachronism in the age of hyperlinks. Is there any logic to where these
"rare uses" appear - why do some links get them and most not? If there's
no logic and no benefit, they should be removed as unnecessary verbiage.
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bug#28790: [PATCH] Replaced "which see" with "q.v.".

João Távora
In reply to this post by Glenn Morris-3
Glenn Morris <[hidden email]> writes:

> Eli Zaretskii wrote:
>
>> The absolute majority of your proposed changes are in the doc strings,
>> where we already have a direct link to the documentation of a symbol
>> whose name precedes "which see".  So whether the reader understands
>> that or doesn't, the link is already there to click on, and no harm is
>> done by a relatively rare use of this phrase.
>
> IMO there is no benefit either, as you explain above. "which see" is an
> anachronism in the age of hyperlinks.

For me, it has the benefit that it allows me emphasize that the
hyperlink preceding is more important than usual, almost a pre-requisite
for understanding the current one.  I use "which see" because it's terse
and a conventional phrase. Until this discussion I thought it was a
widely accepted convention, even outside Emacs, I now understand that it
is not, but if you "forbid it" I have to start writing things like "(the
documentation of which is required/suggested to fully understand this
item)" which says the same but is a bit long-winded.

João



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bug#28790: [PATCH] Replaced "which see" with "q.v.".

jrw@pobox.com
To replace "which see" with something more conventional, I think you'd
have to re-word the whole sentence in most cases. So like, "See also
cromulate-frobnicator, which is called by snarf-spavicle in GUI
environments", as opposed to something like "In GUI environments,
snarf-spavicle calls cromulate-frobnicator, which see." At the moment
I can't think of any any natural-sounding way to introduce a cross
reference in English prose that isn't some type of imperative verb
phrase.

Tangent: "which see" fails to parse for me because it sounds like
"cromulate-frobnicator" is supposed to be the subject of "see" rather
than the object. The only time I'd expect to see "which see" would be
as a modifier to a noun phrase like "the cameras, which see everything
that happens". I suspect you could get away with something like "quod
vide" because Latin is a lot more flexible about word order, and
English-speaking authors just blindly copied the Latin phrase without
accounting for the rather large grammatical differences between
English and Latin. It wouldn't be the first time English-speaking
academics tried to apply Latin rules to English grammar in a totally
silly way, like when they invented the concept of a split infinitive,
or when they started insisting you can't end a sentence with a
preposition.

I still maintain that "which see" is an anachronism that the vast
majority of English speakers will find meaningless at best, and
confusing at worst, but since RMS already said he disagrees, I don't
see much point in pressing the issue further without collecting some
hard data on English usage, and that seems like it would be an
excessively quixotic pursuit.

On Sat, Oct 14, 2017 at 5:19 PM, João Távora <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Glenn Morris <[hidden email]> writes:
>
>> Eli Zaretskii wrote:
>>
>>> The absolute majority of your proposed changes are in the doc strings,
>>> where we already have a direct link to the documentation of a symbol
>>> whose name precedes "which see".  So whether the reader understands
>>> that or doesn't, the link is already there to click on, and no harm is
>>> done by a relatively rare use of this phrase.
>>
>> IMO there is no benefit either, as you explain above. "which see" is an
>> anachronism in the age of hyperlinks.
>
> For me, it has the benefit that it allows me emphasize that the
> hyperlink preceding is more important than usual, almost a pre-requisite
> for understanding the current one.  I use "which see" because it's terse
> and a conventional phrase. Until this discussion I thought it was a
> widely accepted convention, even outside Emacs, I now understand that it
> is not, but if you "forbid it" I have to start writing things like "(the
> documentation of which is required/suggested to fully understand this
> item)" which says the same but is a bit long-winded.
>
> João



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bug#28790: [PATCH] Replaced "which see" with "q.v.".

Eli Zaretskii
In reply to this post by Glenn Morris-3
> From: Glenn Morris <[hidden email]>
> Cc: John Williams <[hidden email]>,  [hidden email]
> Date: Sat, 14 Oct 2017 18:07:02 -0400
>
> Eli Zaretskii wrote:
>
> > The absolute majority of your proposed changes are in the doc strings,
> > where we already have a direct link to the documentation of a symbol
> > whose name precedes "which see".  So whether the reader understands
> > that or doesn't, the link is already there to click on, and no harm is
> > done by a relatively rare use of this phrase.
>
> IMO there is no benefit either, as you explain above. "which see" is an
> anachronism in the age of hyperlinks. Is there any logic to where these
> "rare uses" appear - why do some links get them and most not? If there's
> no logic and no benefit, they should be removed as unnecessary verbiage.

In my book, if there's no benefit and no harm, the text should stay as
it is.



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bug#28790: [PATCH] Replaced "which see" with "q.v.".

Eli Zaretskii
In reply to this post by jrw@pobox.com
> From: John Williams <[hidden email]>
> Date: Sat, 14 Oct 2017 15:52:16 -0700
> Cc: Eli Zaretskii <[hidden email]>, [hidden email]
>
> I was trying to make the least disruptive change I could, but if simply removing the redundant text would be
> more acceptable, I'd be happy to rework my patch to do that.

Thanks, but I don't think we should remove that harmless text, if only
out of respect to those who wrote it.



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bug#28790: [PATCH] Replaced "which see" with "q.v.".

Drew Adams
In reply to this post by jrw@pobox.com
> To replace "which see" with something more conventional, I think you'd
> have to re-word the whole sentence in most cases. So like, "See also
> cromulate-frobnicator, which is called by snarf-spavicle in GUI
> environments", as opposed to something like "In GUI environments,
> snarf-spavicle calls cromulate-frobnicator, which see."

Yes, this is true.  It is conventional and clear to say
"See XXX for information about YYY."  IOW, it's good to
make very clear (a) what you're pointing to and (b) why.



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bug#28790: [PATCH] Replaced "which see" with "q.v.".

Richard Stallman
[[[ To any NSA and FBI agents reading my email: please consider    ]]]
[[[ whether defending the US Constitution against all enemies,     ]]]
[[[ foreign or domestic, requires you to follow Snowden's example. ]]]

  > Yes, this is true.  It is conventional and clear to say
  > "See XXX for information about YYY."  IOW, it's good to
  > make very clear (a) what you're pointing to and (b) why.

I think it is good to make doc strings clearer in that sort of way.

--
Dr Richard Stallman
President, Free Software Foundation (gnu.org, fsf.org)
Internet Hall-of-Famer (internethalloffame.org)
Skype: No way! See stallman.org/skype.html.




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bug#28790: [PATCH] Replaced "which see" with "q.v.".

Alan Third
In reply to this post by jrw@pobox.com
On Sat, Oct 14, 2017 at 06:03:31PM -0700, John Williams wrote:
> I still maintain that "which see" is an anachronism that the vast
> majority of English speakers will find meaningless at best, and
> confusing at worst, but since RMS already said he disagrees, I don't
> see much point in pressing the issue further without collecting some
> hard data on English usage, and that seems like it would be an
> excessively quixotic pursuit.

I had to use Google to find out what it meant when I was reading the
Emacs manual. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen it used anywhere else.

For me, the only advantage of replacing it with ‘q.v.’ would have been
that I’d immediately know that I didn’t know what it meant, rather
than assuming the writer made a grammatical mistake.
--
Alan Third