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Re: The may/can/might business

From: Bruce Momjian <bruce(at)momjian(dot)us>
To: Richard Troy <rtroy(at)ScienceTools(dot)com>
Cc: Tom Lane <tgl(at)sss(dot)pgh(dot)pa(dot)us>, pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: The may/can/might business
Date: 2007-02-01 20:52:58
Message-ID: 200702012052.l11Kqwf22062@momjian.us (view raw or flat)
Thread:
Lists: pgsql-hackers
Richard Troy wrote:
> 
> On Thu, 1 Feb 2007, Bruce Momjian wrote:
> > From: Bruce Momjian <bruce(at)momjian(dot)us>
> > Tom Lane wrote:
> > > 3606c3606
> > > <                    errmsg("aggregate function calls cannot be nested")));
> > > ---
> > > >                    errmsg("aggregate function calls may not be nested")));
> > >
> > > I don't think that this is an improvement, or even correct English.
> > >
> > > You have changed a message that states that an action is logically
> > > impossible into one that implies we are arbitrarily refusing to let
> > > the user do something that *could* be done, if only we'd let him.
> > >
> > > There is relevant material in the message style guidelines, section
> > > 45.3.8: it says that "cannot open file "%s" ... indicates that the
> > > functionality of opening the named file does not exist at all in the
> > > program, or that it's conceptually impossible."
> >
> > Uh, I think you might be reading the diff backwards.  The current CVS
> > wording is "cannot".
> 
> No, Bruce, he got it exactly right: "cannot" indicates, as Tom put it,
> "logical impossibility," whereas "may not" suggests that something could
> happen but it's being prevented. His parsing of the english was spot-on.

Right, but the changes was from "may not" (permission) to "cannot"
(logical impossibility), which I think is what he wanted.

Is there an open source grammar award we can win?  :-)

-- 
  Bruce Momjian   bruce(at)momjian(dot)us
  EnterpriseDB    http://www.enterprisedb.com

  + If your life is a hard drive, Christ can be your backup. +

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