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Re: lintian: spelling

Jakub Wilk <jwilk@debian.org> writes:

> [Disclaimer: I'm not a native speaker of English.]

(Credential: I am a native speaker of English.)

> >	:param int max_no_dec: number of rounds we allow to be stuck
> Lintian complains about "allow to" because "allow" requires an object,

Yes, “allow” requires at least three referents: the party who grants
allowance, the actions allowed, and the party to whom allowance is


    “Alice allows Bob to sit”.

“Alice”, “to sit”, “Bob” are the three terms functionining in the
grammar of the main verb “to allow”.

As is usual with natural language, many usages leave implicit some of
those terms.


    “allowed to sit”

is a phrase that leaves both parties out. It functions as:

    “<UNKNOWN_A> allowed <UNKNOWN_B> to sit”

> and in most cases[*] this object goes between "allow" and "to". But
> here, "number of rounds" is the object.

That is incorrect; “number of rounds” is not a direct part of the
grammar of “to allow”.

Rather “number of rounds” is part of the grammar of the descriptor
“stuck”; in this case, “stuck for ‘max_no_dec’ number of rounds”.

Thus the verb phrase “stuck for ‘max_no_dec’ number of rounds” is
distributed across the sentence. That is not bad, but it does make the
grammar more difficult for non-Anglophones to parse.

So a full explicit grammar of this statement would be:

    We allow <UNKNOWN> to be stuck for ‘max_no_dec’ rounds.

Lintian is, correctly IMO, complaining because the statement leaves
unknown the party to whom the action is allowed.

> We allow $max_no_dec rounds to be stuck.

That is not grammatical; it implies “rounds [to be stuck]” is the party
to whom allowance is granted. That is not what this sentence means, so
the phrasing should not imply that.

I would suggest:

    :param int max_no_dec: number of rounds we allow [FIXME] to be stuck.

where “[FIXME]” must be replaced with something explicit. Is it “the
program”? “the network connection”? Some other party? It's not
specified, and I think Lintian is correct to complain.

 \     “Books and opinions, no matter from whom they came, if they are |
  `\     in opposition to human rights, are nothing but dead letters.” |
_o__)                                                  —Ernestine Rose |
Ben Finney

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