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Re: Bug#756172: ITP: ssh-cron -- cron-like job scheduler than handles ssh key passphrases

Bastian Blank <waldi@debian.org> writes:
> On Sun, Jul 27, 2014 at 10:45:37AM -0700, Russ Allbery wrote:
>> Bastian Blank <waldi@debian.org> writes:

>>> We got the advice to always use "which" with comma and "that" without
>>> comma.  Especially for non-native speakers the number of variations
>>> with slightly different meaning gets too high.

>> It also doesn't really matter.  Choice of "which" versus "that" in
>> English doesn't pose any comprehension problems for a native speaker.

> I specifically talked about non-native speakers, like myself.  And there
> are more non-native English speakers than native ones.

Sorry, I said that badly.  That "for a native speaker" didn't belong
there.  What I meant to say is that choice of "which" versus "that" in
English doesn't pose any comprehension problems.  I think that applies
regardless of whether you're a native speaker.

This is drifting off-topic into theories of grammar, but it's worth
bearing in mind that there are two major types of grammar "errors": the
kind that causes confusion about the meaning of the sentence, and the kind
where everyone still understands the sentence just fine but it's not
considered formally correct.  Most (not all) of the grammar errors of the
first kind are errors that native speakers would never make, and indeed
are part of the definition of being fluent.  Native speakers make the
latter type of grammar errors all the time, and they generally go
completely unremarked in speech because they have no impact on

The use of "which" vs. "that" is definitely in the second category.  It
may have some mild impact on how formal the writing sounds, but you're not
in any danger of confusing anyone about what the sentence means (except in
a few very artificial examples where the sentence really should just be
rephrased entirely).  I'm fairly sure that's true for both native readers
and non-native readers.  That latter type of "errors" are generally the
domain of a style guide, because it "feels" better to use a consistent
approach each time they arise, but they're not particularly important for
conveying meaning.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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