User:David Pierce

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Wikipedia:Babel
en This user is a native speaker of English.
fr-1 Cet utilisateur peut contribuer avec un niveau élémentaire de français.
grc-1 Ὅδε ὁ χρήστης δύναται συμβάλλεσθαι ὀλίγῃ γνώσει τῆς ἀρχαίας ἑλληνικῆς.
tr-3 Bu kullanıcı yüksek seviyede Türkçe anlıyor.
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"I never wanted to be anybody else." —Peter Fonda in Easy Rider

I do not use a pseudonym. Wikipedia articles are not self-justifying; they need references; readers should have all possible means of judging whether the references have been used properly. Anybody to whom it seems worth the trouble can find out something about me from my external home page.

I was born in 1965. I attended St. Albans School in Washington, D.C.; I read Great Books at St John's College; I studied mathematics at the University of Maryland. I am a mathematician and logician by vocation, and various other things by avocation. Since 2000, I have lived in Turkey, working first at Middle Eastern Technical University in Ankara and now Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University in Istanbul.

What I have done[edit]

As a student of Turkish, I have created the following articles:

I have made small changes to other articles here and there, such as Ionian League and Lost Horizon.

On a sub-page of this one, I have written some notes for a possible article on Collingwood's Essay on Metaphysics. (An older version first went into the main namespace by mistake, and was then tagged as a possible copyright violation.)

I created the article Cytorus (ancient settlement).

What I couldn't do[edit]

I tried to work on the Language article, because I didn't think it was right to define language in terms of symbols and rules. Similarly, in the Sun article, I didn't think it was right to define the sun as the star at the center of our solar system. My reason was the same in each case. The words "language" and "sun" have always had the same basic meaning, and this basic meaning was not given at the beginning of the articles in question. I was not able to convince others to accept my changes.

On "user boxes"[edit]

English usage
Subj This user prefers that the subjunctive mood be used. Were this user you, he would use it.
…in. Ending a sentence with a preposition is something that this user is okay with.
they This user considers singular they standard English usage.
A, B, and C This user prefers the serial comma.

I have used the Babel template for myself because it exists. I rate myself level 1 with French and Ancient Greek because almost all I actually do with them is read or translate them (with reference books at hand). Occasionally I do compose sentences (spoken or written) in French. I teach and write mathematics in Turkish.

I added some userboxes because they were available, and because they relate to how one writes articles. I elaborate:

  • The subjunctive is useful, as for distinguishing between
    • "I insist that the prisoner is freed" (he or she is no longer in this prison) and
    • "I insist that the prisoner be freed" (he or she ought to be set free).
  • Prepositions are so called because they usually have "objects", which they precede. But there is no reason why the name should dictate the use.
  • There is a precedent for allowing a plural pronoun to become singular: namely, the dropping of the second-person singular pronoun "thou" in favor of the formerly plural "you".

A genderless pronoun for a single third person is desirable, and a neologism like sie and hir in this role is not likely to catch on. I used singular they as a child, until I was told this was an error. I no longer think it was an error; it was a natural solution to a problem of expression. Out of habit, I will still use "he," or "she," if I know the sex of the person referred to; and "he or she," or "she or he," if a definite person of unknown sex is referred to. But a language need not provide information about sex in this way. For example, Turkish does not.

  • I used to think the serial comma was redundant; now I think ambiguity is avoided best by its use.
Education
SJC This user is a Johnnie!

Since it turned out to exist, I added a box for my college, for the same reason that I named the college above.

Editing resources[edit]

Some of the internal links I have consulted (and may consult again) in editing: