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RE: Documentation bug: mistaken transitive verb

From: Martin Dorey
Subject: RE: Documentation bug: mistaken transitive verb
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2018 21:41:07 +0000

> mistaken transitive verb

I think we can take your testimony as a demonstration that it's an infelicitous 
phrasing, which is the kind of useful insight that wouldn't occur to at least 
this native English (and fluent make) speaker, but, for what it's worth, I 
don't think it's a grammatical error.  The verb "simplify" is meant 
transitively but the direct object is implicit.  
https://ell.stackexchange.com/a/43491/24214 has some examples of other such 
usage.  I can see the ambiguity from analogy: the fraction 4/8 simplifies to 
1/2, so you could say "some fractions simplify" and I can see that some 
variables can be simplified.

> I propose potentially “Variable simplification”
> (meant as “simplification through variable”, not “simplification of
> variables”)

Sadly, I would interpret the suggestion the latter way rather than the intended 

> unless anybody has anything better

"Simplify with variables" still has the implicit object but the ambiguity has 
gone.  Ah, how about "Variables simplify makefiles"?  That's still only three 
words and I see other three word titles.  They're quite long words but not very 
long ones.  I'm struggling to deduce the capitalization rules given the two 
capitalizations of "make" visible at:

./doc/make.texi:765:@node Variables Simplify, make Deduces, How Make Works, 

Perhaps we'd be better off using "Variables Simplify Makefiles" in place of 
"Variables Make Makefiles Simpler" too.  Despite the latter being clever and 
euphonious, it makes me double-take, particularly in that capitalization.

-----Original Message-----
From: Bug-make <address@hidden> On Behalf Of Garreau, Alexandre
Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2018 12:39
To: address@hidden
Subject: Documentation bug: mistaken transitive verb

I was reading make info documentation for the second time since a quite
long time now, and I suppose my english level has improved since this
time this bugged me:

    * Variables Simplify:: Variables make makefiles simpler.

After overcoming the doubt caused by the uncommon use of a conjugated
sentence as a (especially shortened) title, and realized it wasn’t a
matter of “-y”/“-ies”, I checked on Wiktionary[0] and indeed it seems
normally ”simplify” is a transitive verb, yet not exclusively since its
use as an intransitive one appears to mean “simplify self”/“become
simpler”, which I’m not sure is what the documentation is trying to say:
the long title says that *variables* make stuff simpler, not that
variables become simpler…

If I’m right here, I propose potentially “Variable simplification”
(meant as “simplification through variable”, not “simplification of
variables”), unless anybody has anything better, since it’s quite
ambiguuous as well.


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