Talk:Stephen Cole Kleene

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WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 04:28, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

A comment on puns[edit]

It's both unnecessary and self-defeating to declare that something is a pun, and worse, to explain it. A pun by definition explains itself. If the intended audience hasn't the requisite literacy for appreciating it, then its effect is null and void and it should not be used anyway. Think about the audience of this article for a moment. Anyone sufficiently literate to read an article in English on mathematical philosophy and to understand terms like canonical and witticism would already know the expression Cleanliness is next to Godliness and thus would immediately recognize and appreciate the pun without further explanation. To explain the pun is to kill it (and to annoy the reader). Note also that versions of this article appear in numerous other languages. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 210.11.147.182 (talk) 23:28, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

A large part of the readership of English Wikipedia consists of non-native speakers, who wouldn't know that cleanliness is next to godliness is an English proverb. Without this information, the whole anecdote becomes pointless nonsense. This has nothing to do with literacy, but with (non)shared cultural background.—Emil J. 13:11, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

I've already explained that it's the specific readership of this article that is relevant here, not the general readership of en.wikipedia.org, noting also that this article appears in some 18 languages. Also, it's inappropriate to subject readers who came to learn something about a specific scientist to tiresome explanations of things that relate to the language in which the article is written. I often read the German or French version of a Wikipedia article when there is no English equivalent and I would not want to be distracted by linguistic explanations in those articles. If I don't understand some aspect of those languages I'll look it up outside the confines of Wikipedia, or certainly outside the confines of that article, as I do for anything else I happen to read in those languages. In any case, let's consider your hypothetical reader who had never seen that proverb. How does the explanation help him? He's merely told that X is a pun on Y but of what use is that if he doesn't know the significance of Y? So you'd have to mention that Y is an English proverb, and then by the same criterion by which you've inserted a hyperlink to pun you'd have to insert a hyperlink to proverb, and so on ad insaniam. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 210.11.147.182 (talk) 20:36, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

I don't see in what way is your repeated claim that this article appears in 18 languages relevant. We are not discussing any other language versions of the article, we are discussing this version. The thing is that unless you know that this particular phrase is supposed to be a pun on a proverb, you will not realize that it is one, since the proverb itself is a fairly idiotic combination of words which no sane person would ever use were it not for the fact that it is a proverb. You cannot look up linguistic explanations outside the confines of Wikipedia if you are not aware that you have a linguistic problem (ignoring the fact that the classification of proverbs as linguistics is quite a stretch). There is no reason to go ad insaniam, the fact that X is a pun on Y implies (or at least strongly suggests) that Y is a fixed idiom, and anyone interested in the details can google said idiom. I didn't insert anything anywhere, I only reverted your deletions, but I agree that there is no particular reason to link to pun as it is used here as an ordinary English word.—Emil J. 11:11, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

The point about the 17 other languages is relevant to the claim that you're catering for non-native English speakers by explaining the pun: in many cases a non-English speaker would have the option of reading a version of the article in his own language. I thought the point of that comment was obvious. The problem is that the explanation of the pun is an annoying discontinuity in the text that spoils the effect of the pun, just to accommodate a hypothetical readership of dubious quantity--dubious because of the option of many other languages, dubious because of the familiarity with English and in particular with words like witticism that the article assumes anyway. Having said that, I'm glad you deleted the pun link. Have you seen the style of English in which that article is written?! —Preceding unsigned comment added by 210.11.147.182 (talk) 20:53, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

Oh, I see your point now, but your basic premise is fundamentally flawed. As a non-native speaker, I can assure you that it never occurred to me to switch to an article on Czech Wikipedia when browsing English Wikipedia just because such an article exists. That's simply not how it works. Second, whether something "spoils the effect of the pun" is completely irrelevant. This is an encyclopedia, not a joke list. It is supposed to be informative rather than funny. As for "witticism" and whatnot, you still seem to miss the basic difference between vocabulary and proverbs. The former is an inherent part of the language, whereas the latter is not, it is part of cultural background which does not have anything to do with language per se, and typically is much less familiar to foreigners even if they have a good command of the language as such.—Emil J. 10:28, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

In the absence of any evidence to the contrary I strongly doubt that your hypothetical set of readers (i.e., those who don't understand the witticism and, moreover, care that they don't) has any significant cardinality. In any case, a member of that set could be enlightened simply by consulting a native or sufficiently competent English speaker or by pasting it into a Google search box. It doesn't seem appropriate for an encyclopedia article to explain within the article aspects of the language in which the article is written or that the article exploits. One would expect such explanations to be inserted as either references (hyperlinks) or footnotes. That appropriately inculturated readers could thereby siphon off some clandestine humor would not violate the principle that an encyclopedia is intended to inform rather than entertain. Finally, and more subtly perhaps, witticism is not a wholly objective notion. A given instance of wit may be funny to some people and not to others (and you know what they say about puns). Further, someone to whom a joke has to be explained never laughs as vigorously as someone who understands it as told. So to describe something to the reader as a witticism implies either that the reader has the wherewithal to see the humor in it, or the exact opposite, i.e., he doesn't see the humor and has to be told it's funny. In either case it's a vacuous assertion. Perhaps the term witticism should be removed and just the reference to the pun retained (and the explanation linked or footnoted). —Preceding unsigned comment added by 210.9.136.34 (talk) 07:50, 19 August 2010 (UTC)

You have not responded to any of my arguments, you are just repeating the same crap over and over, and I'm not going to waste any of my time on this. I just realized that the whole thing has been tagged for "citation needed" since April 2007, hence it should have been killed years ago, and that's exactly what I'm going to do. Problem solved.—Emil J. 10:26, 19 August 2010 (UTC)

And vice-versa. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 210.9.136.34 (talk) 20:19, 19 August 2010 (UTC)