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Ambiguous use of second-person pronouns

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monzac
1251820.  Sat Sep 30, 2017 6:13 am Reply with quote

I agree that the threads are conversational. Using a poster's name to reference a response is the sort of interaction that happens in conversation, as is a quick reiteration of a previous point. Our current format is intuitively in keeping with conversational practices :)

Also not a fan of @.

 
GuyBarry
1251864.  Sat Sep 30, 2017 10:35 am Reply with quote

I don't think a thread on an internet forum can be likened to a face-to-face conversation. I've never been in a conversation where an unlimited number of people are allowed to take part and can all chip in exactly as and when they feel like it.

 
crissdee
1251893.  Sat Sep 30, 2017 1:25 pm Reply with quote

No? I have, any number of times. Ever sat in a pub with a group of mates? Ever just hung around............anywhere with a group of friends? Try coming to one of our meet-ups, they work just like this forum, with added alcohol and food.

 
GuyBarry
1251899.  Sat Sep 30, 2017 1:39 pm Reply with quote

crissdee wrote:
No? I have, any number of times. Ever sat in a pub with a group of mates? Ever just hung around............anywhere with a group of friends?


Yup, loads of times. The dynamic is totally different. You don't get dozens of random people coming in and just pitching into the conversation whenever they feel like it. It wouldn't be possible, because you'd end up with loads of people all talking at once and no one able to hear anyone else. The fact that this is a written medium means that it's possible to have simultaneous (or quasi-simultaneous) conversations in a way that simply isn't possible in speech.

Quote:
Try coming to one of our meet-ups, they work just like this forum, with added alcohol and food.


I'm sure they're loads of fun! I've been to plenty of internet meet-ups, but they're not like taking part in a forum. They're like... well, um... having a conversation in a pub.

 
monzac
1251925.  Sat Sep 30, 2017 5:03 pm Reply with quote

GuyBarry, internet forum threads may not be exactly the same as face to face conversations, but they can be likened to them.

In a large gathering you can have several threads of conversation going on at the same time. Some of these may have begun from the same conversational point, but some may be digressions from the main conversation. I find this is normal at dinner parties, and when this happens, people will often drift back from their side conversations and try to catch up with other things being discussed at table.

Real life conversations usually include half finished sentences, statements that are cut off midway, unanswered questions... Sometimes they may have moments of silence which nobody fills, or there may be that person in the group who feels uncomfortable with any silence or unanswered questions and feels that it is their role to jump in and fill the gap.

Forum discussions tend to be somewhere in between traditional written communication and oral interaction. They are not as close to face to face conversation as texting is, due in part to the lags between contributions, but they are closer to conversation than letter writing, for example, where responses may have days, weeks or even longer intervals between them.

Perhaps forum discussions would be better compared to the types of conversations that take place at parties, at least the ones I've been to. People come and go, sometimes they interrupt, sometimes their contribution is on topic other times not, sometimes smaller intimate conversations develop, sometimes arguments arise, but it is still one party.

 
Alfred E Neuman
1251936.  Sat Sep 30, 2017 8:23 pm Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
I don't think a thread on an internet forum can be likened to a face-to-face conversation. I've never been in a conversation where an unlimited number of people are allowed to take part and can all chip in exactly as and when they feel like it.


For a start, likening a forum to a face to face conversation is your phrase, not mine.

I don't feel like writing another ten paragraph essay saying exactly what I said before, so I won't. A conversation is flowing and dynamic and uncontrolled. So are threads on this forum. They are not formal and rigidly dedicated to exactly one topic or idea. They are not academic discussions, even though some topics and some posts may be academic.

The common points in most of the dictionary definitions of 'conversation' is that it is informal, and an exchange of news and ideas. So at the risk of repeating myself, the threads on this forum are conversations.

 
'yorz
1251941.  Sun Oct 01, 2017 1:19 am Reply with quote

That, and in my experience at an actual forum meet there will be more contributors to a conversation than online; each dedicated thread will have its own usual suspects which tends to be rather limited in number.

 
GuyBarry
1251945.  Sun Oct 01, 2017 3:52 am Reply with quote

monzac wrote:
GuyBarry, internet forum threads may not be exactly the same as face to face conversations, but they can be likened to them.


Well they clearly have some things in common. They consist of a group of people making comments and responding to other people's comments, so in that sense they're like a conversation.

But in other ways they're completely different. For instance, I read through your post and the subsequent posts in the thread earlier this morning, and thought about what had been said and what I was going to say in response. Then I came back and read through the thread again. That sort of thing doesn't happen in actual conversations, where people respond directly to the other person on the spot.

Also, it's possible to have multiple discussions going on in parallel and respond to each of them separately. Just before making this post I made a post in the thread about the spelling of "Iraq", for instance. That would be a highly unusual thing to do in a face-to-face conversation. I can't imagine walking round a pub, going up to one group of people and saying something to them, then walking away and saying something to a different group of people on a completely different topic, and continuing to circulate in that fashion. I wouldn't have a clue what anyone was talking about most of the time (and people would probably think I was rather eccentric, or just plain rude). You have to stay and listen to people to know what the discussion's about. In a written medium, you don't. You can catch up with what's been said at your own convenience.

Quote:
In a large gathering you can have several threads of conversation going on at the same time. Some of these may have begun from the same conversational point, but some may be digressions from the main conversation. I find this is normal at dinner parties, and when this happens, people will often drift back from their side conversations and try to catch up with other things being discussed at table.


Indeed, but you can only listen to one thing at a time, so you're bound to miss most of the conversation. I've spent the last half an hour catching up with everything posted to the forum since I last logged in. There's no equivalent of doing that at a dinner-party.

Quote:
Real life conversations usually include half finished sentences, statements that are cut off midway, [...]


Stop right there! :-)

That's a good example of how an internet discussion differs from a face-to-face one. There's no way to "cut someone off"; once they've made their post, the whole text is there for anyone to read, even if the person quoting it edits it (as I've just done). You can't interrupt someone in written communication.

Quote:
Perhaps forum discussions would be better compared to the types of conversations that take place at parties, at least the ones I've been to. People come and go, sometimes they interrupt, sometimes their contribution is on topic other times not, sometimes smaller intimate conversations develop, sometimes arguments arise, but it is still one party.


There's a sort of "cocktail party" feel to some forum discussions, I agree. But it's important to appreciate that the nature of the medium makes the dynamic quite different from what happens at a party. After I finish this post I'll go back and re-read it, to check for errors and also to be sure that I've said what I intended to. I may edit it, now or later. It is simply impossible to do anything like that in a face-to-face conversation. (Sometimes I wish it were!)

 
monzac
1251956.  Sun Oct 01, 2017 4:22 am Reply with quote

During and after face to face conversations I do sometimes check in for a recap of what's been said. I might also come back later, maybe the next day and correct something I've said - a bit like editing a point. Sometimes I'll send someone a follow up link that relates to something that we discussed, or they'll send me one. I'm saying forum discussions such as some threads on these boards are on the continuum of communication somewhere between oral conversation and more formal written correspondence: Likened to, but not exactly the same as :)

 
tetsabb
1251959.  Sun Oct 01, 2017 4:27 am Reply with quote

Those unfinished sentences are really

 
GuyBarry
1251962.  Sun Oct 01, 2017 4:29 am Reply with quote

monzac wrote:
During and after face to face conversations I do sometimes check in for a recap of what's been said.


Do you really? What do you do - go up to a group of people and say "Excuse me, could you give me a summary of everything that's been said since I last spoke to you"? Unless someone's been sitting there taking notes, that sounds like a bit of a tall order.

 
monzac
1251964.  Sun Oct 01, 2017 4:34 am Reply with quote

omg I used to have a friend who would truly give an update from the last time we'd seen each other :(

No, I was thinking more about those times I've drifted out of one thread of conversation and then heard something I might want to be involved in discussing. It could be simply saying 'What was that?'

As for 'after', I might ask 'What were you guys discussing earlier?'

 
monzac
1251965.  Sun Oct 01, 2017 4:37 am Reply with quote

tetsabb wrote:
Those unfinished sentences are really


Hah

 
PDR
1251992.  Sun Oct 01, 2017 7:03 am Reply with quote

@notthepreviousposter: What has any of this stuff about real conversations vs internet ones got to do with ambiguous second person pronoun? Surely you should be starting a new thread on that subject, or at least a new thread on whether you should have a new thread or not...

PDR

 
GuyBarry
1252002.  Sun Oct 01, 2017 9:18 am Reply with quote

Ho, ho, very satirical.

I would draw a distinction between "thread drift", when the discussion naturally moves onto something else, and a situation where the thread splits into two (or more) parallel discussions. But maybe I'm splitting hairs (or threads).

 

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