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Thread: "Sci-Fi" or "sf"?

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    For me it would depend on whether the coffee is good. If the people around there felt strongly about it, I’d be willing to make that small adjustment and to rephrase it to “may.”
    If they feel so strongly about a point of grammar that they're applauding snotty cracks in public, there's no coffee good enough to make me tolerate such treatment. Bad behavior is bad behavior.
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  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    For me it would depend on whether the coffee is good. If the people around there felt strongly about it, I’d be willing to make that small adjustment and to rephrase it to “may.”
    If they explained their actual concern, rather than going into an unclear rant, as in the bit Grant related, so would I.

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  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Ah, traditionalists then.

    But as a customer that shop would certainly lose my business. No one likes a rude server.
    Rude? Unlikely. Maybe the coffee vendor was smiling, physically or by tone of voice. Offence is taken on the receiver side in most cases.
    In the book “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus…” the point about the correct, traditional or not, way to ask is made clear. If you ask “could you mow the lawn?”, the man might say yes and stay seated. If you ask “will you mow the lawn?” He might get up and do it. The functional point of can I versus May I is still with us, thankfully.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    Rude? Unlikely. Maybe the coffee vendor was smiling, physically or by tone of voice. Offence is taken on the receiver side in most cases.
    In the book “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus…” the point about the correct, traditional or not, way to ask is made clear. If you ask “could you mow the lawn?”, the man might say yes and stay seated. If you ask “will you mow the lawn?” He might get up and do it. The functional point of can I versus May I is still with us, thankfully.
    And if you say “Do you have the time?” then technically “Yes” would be a valid and sufficient answer, but in reality that would be a rude response.

    Here’s the way that little story comes across to me: A person walks in and uses a common phrase asking for a type of coffee and gets a long rant in response, followed by others there laughing at them. Now, if I were to hear that long rant, I wouldn’t understand what he was getting at, because as far as I was aware, I had just made a simple and common request. So, in that situation I would just understand they were putting me down for reasons that weren’t obvious. Here, on this board, with extra information and time, I understand it has to do with preferred word choice, but I wouldn’t get that in the actual situation. You may be assuming that the customer would immediately understand the point of the rant, and so that perhaps makes it more acceptable to you, but I wouldn’t assume that. Also, to me, it seems entirely unnecessary. If it really is that big a deal in Scotland, if he had just clearly explained common usage there in a friendly way, I’d see it quite differently, but as is, it comes across as quite rude to me.

    Perhaps we should also go on long rants when someone says a thing is “very unique” or uses a double negative and crucify them if they say “I could care less.” Everyone should laugh at them. Pointing is optional.

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  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    And if you say “Do you have the time?” then technically “Yes” would be a valid and sufficient answer, but in reality that would be a rude response.

    Here’s the way that little story comes across to me: A person walks in and uses a common phrase asking for a type of coffee and gets a long rant in response, followed by others there laughing at them. Now, if I were to hear that long rant, I wouldn’t understand what he was getting at, because as far as I was aware, I had just made a simple and common request. So, in that situation I would just understand they were putting me down for reasons that weren’t obvious. Here, on this board, with extra information and time, I understand it has to do with preferred word choice, but I wouldn’t get that in the actual situation. You may be assuming that the customer would immediately understand the point of the rant, and so that perhaps makes it more acceptable to you, but I wouldn’t assume that. Also, to me, it seems entirely unnecessary. If it really is that big a deal in Scotland, if he had just clearly explained common usage there in a friendly way, I’d see it quite differently, but as is, it comes across as quite rude to me.

    Perhaps we should also go on long rants when someone says a thing is “very unique” or uses a double negative and crucify them if they say “I could care less.” Everyone should laugh at them. Pointing is optional.
    You really point out the issue of context very well. Words written down lose so much of what happens in a short conversation. Agreed, a short conversation can be intended to be “rude” in one modern sense of that word, or it can be intended jovially but taken as a put down by the customer, in this case. Sometimes a simple reply like “yes” could be taken as too abrupt for polite coffee serving ettiquette, while being perfectly clear, and normal, to some.

    Some cultures do not even have an equivalent to “please” in such encounters, but they do include “thanks” Both are functionally unnecessary to buy a coffee, and I have seen that happen in coffee shops, for example in “diners” in the USA. Just shout “coffee!” And no offence is taken on either side. When I say please from British habits, I get that oh you’re English smile. Still no offence.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  6. #36
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    So-o-o glad I told that story ...


    Anyway, this:
    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    I don’t use it affectionately. If I call something “skiffy,” it is irredeemably bad. I just don’t say it often because I don’t want to spend time explaining it. And I say “skiffy” because I don’t like rhyming “sci-fi” with “hifi.” It’s meant to show my contempt for the term.
    That's interesting. I'd only ever heard it used affectionately, referring to popular television and movie "science" fiction: "Oh, it's maybe just skiffy, but I like it." Haven't heard it in a long time.
    The SFE has this to say:
    In 1980s-1990s usage "skiffy", which sounded friendlier than "sci fi", had perhaps for that reason come to be less condemnatory. Skiffy is colourful, sometimes entertaining, junk sf: Star Wars is skiffy.
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  7. #37
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    I use Squiffy, to say out of square or plumb. It is also used for slightly inebriated. Thus by extension to an idea, slightly deviant from mainstream. But affectionate.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    Rude? Unlikely. Maybe the coffee vendor was smiling, physically or by tone of voice. Offence is taken on the receiver side in most cases.
    As described, the server was rude. If that word doesn't suit how about pushy? Snotty? Smugly superior?

    They humiliated the customer in front of a crowd. Not acceptable.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    As described, the server was rude. If that word doesn't suit how about pushy? Snotty? Smugly superior?

    They humiliated the customer in front of a crowd. Not acceptable.
    I think you assume humiliation. But I was not there either. However, I think I would find that reply quite acceptable. I once visited a fish and chip shop in Northern Ireland , long ago, the whole shop fell silent and I was served in silence. That was unnerving.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    I think you assume humiliation. But I was not there either. However, I think I would find that reply quite acceptable. I once visited a fish and chip shop in Northern Ireland , long ago, the whole shop fell silent and I was served in silence. That was unnerving.
    There are standards of good behavior. Chiding someone about their grammar is not it. And maybe this and maybe that, but as described it was a poor show. If the tone was not rude, the actions were.

    OK, I'm done talking about it. It's become a derail, and I contributed to that. So I'm out of that topic.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  11. #41
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    I first started reading Science Fiction in the late 1960's and I think that I have always used the full term. Probably because they were my introduction to the genre I still have a fondness for the "Golden Age" writers. I can't remember hearing the term skiffy but then again in my work and social life I have never really run across that many enthusiasts of Science Fiction.

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    There are standards of good behavior. Chiding someone about their grammar is not it. And maybe this and maybe that, but as described it was a poor show. If the tone was not rude, the actions were.

    OK, I'm done talking about it. It's become a derail, and I contributed to that. So I'm out of that topic.
    As a final note on the topic, it's perhaps worth my pointing out to speakers of American English that "May I ... ?" is still considered more formally polite than "Can I ... ?" in British English, when used in a context involving permission. Grammatically, there hasn't been a functional distinction in meaning in that context since the nineteenth century--it's just a matter of politeness, of carefully acknowledging the agency of the person whose assistance you are requesting.
    "Can I get ... ?" when asking someone to bring you something or give you something, is a construction that can definitely cause confusion and offence in British English, particularly when used to address waiting staff, since it can be interpreted as a suggestion that they're not doing their job. I've seen it happen more than once.

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  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    The title of the "To Sci-Fi Writers ..." thread still makes me frown slightly every time it pops back into prominence.

    Having grown up during the peak pejorative usage of "sci-fi" during the Seventies, as a label for the pulpy hack-work end of the genre, I'm still slightly bemused that anyone would self-identify as a "sci-fi writer" unless deeply cynical about their own motives, and I have certainly found it difficult to smile on the rare occasions anyone has accused me of "writing sci-fi". (Nor am at all fond of the pronunciation "skiffy", which seems to be a sort of affectionate diminutive for that branch of "science fiction" that doesn't actually care about science at all.)
    But I tend to agree with the Science Fiction Encyclopedia when it states, It's one of those usages that has become so universal (like "Can I get...?" as a synonym for "May I have...?") that the old-school among us are left to just wince and remain silent.

    But we all have our personal preferences. Do you prefer "sci-fi", or "sf", or "science fiction" in full?

    Grant Hutchison
    I tend to either use "sf" (or sf/f) or science fiction. "Sci-fi" sounds like the name of a cable channel that shall not be named.
    Information about American English usage here. Floating point issues? Please read this before posting.

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  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    "Sci-fi" sounds like the name of a cable channel that shall not be named.
    It was the original name, IIRC. A big turn-off for me at the time, but of course a reflection of how a new generation has adopted the word without being aware of the ghastly baggage it lugs around with it.

    The more recent change in spelling very much did not improve the situation.

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  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    So-o-o glad I told that story ...
    We’ll, it led to some lively discussion at least. And I learned to be careful about that when I visit the UK, so not a waste really.


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  16. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    And if you say “Do you have the time?” then technically “Yes” would be a valid and sufficient answer, but in reality that would be a rude response.
    If you really want to confuse someone, answer that question with, "Yes, but not right now."
    Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn

  17. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeanF View Post
    If you really want to confuse someone, answer that question with, "Yes, but not right now."
    Reminds me of an alleged Yogi Berra-ism:

    "What time is it?"
    "You mean now?"

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