References, Please.

I like Tim Parks. Mind you, I haven’t read any of his books, but I’ve always enjoyed his essays when I’ve come across them, usually in the NYRB. His latest blog post for them, however, makes me want to rap him across the knuckles. It’s an extended whine about how annoying it is to create scholarly references and how he wishes they wouldn’t make him do it any more. Hey, I know exactly how annoying it is; I do it routinely as part of my editing, fixing the references of authors who couldn’t be bothered to do a decent job (or who farmed it out to grad students or interns who, more understandably, couldn’t be bothered to do a decent job). But it’s got to be done unless you want to jettison the whole enterprise of verifiable scholarship and go back to the days of quotation from memory and “every schoolboy knows.” Here’s a paragraph where the absurdity of his idea (that he and other slackers should be spared the suffering) shows through plainly:

Of course it will be objected that Google is not always accurate and does not yet include everything. Who would disagree? Though my experience with literary texts is that Google Books, or again Project Gutenberg, or the online University of Adelaide Library are accurate in an overwhelming majority of cases. But if they are not, let’s insist they become more accurate and more comprehensive, particularly with all works that are now out of copyright.

You go right ahead and insist, Tim, and on the day when online metadata become thoroughly reliable, sometime in the thirty-fifth century, you have my permission to rely on them. Until then, suck it up and get those page numbers.

Update. Dave Wilton of Wordorigins.org has a far more thorough rebuttal of Parks’s silly idea; go read it. A sample (the Parks allegation is in itals):

Texts are available on the internet. If someone wants to verify a quotation from The Great Gatsby, yes it is easier and for most purposes just as valid to search Project Gutenberg than it is to track down the specific edition and then find the quotation in it, but I challenge anyone to do that with a quotation from one of Bede’s homilies. (I’ve been spending weeks trying to locate the source of just such a quotation because the scholar who quoted it did not provide adequate bibliographic information.) Furthermore, secondary sources are often behind firewalls and not readily searchable. Even if a scholar has digital access to the journal article through her university library, without knowing the journal title, issue, and date, finding the article is time consuming if not impossible.

Comments

  1. Actually, someone should write a program for automatic search of public domain works and insertion of correct references. That’s already done for finding plagiarism, so really, not a big deal,

  2. In ideal world, sometime in thirty-fifth century, a scholarly publication will have embedded in the document a full text of all works it is referencing.

    Technically speaking, it can be done now, but for the copyright issues.

    Hopefully, they will be resolved by the thirty-fifth century

  3. marie-lucie says:

    I wish there was an agreed-upon way of listing references. Finding the information (eg quoting something from a publication which is itself quoted in another publication) is often difficult enough without having to make sure the format is the right one, especially if the original publication uses a style different from what you are used to (even to the listing of authors’ names). And God forbid that some references should be in different languages, published in different countries with different standards.

  4. Page numbers give me a sad in the feelings.

    I understand what they’re good for, but they are part of the Codicial Ideological Complex (CIC) that causes a lot of non-treeware to be distributed as pdfs instead of something sane because when creating a document even for the screen the first question that gets asked and answered is “what size rectangle of wood pulp do you plan to smear pigment on?”, even when the correct answer is – as it almost always is – “yo dawg we don’t do that shizzle anymore”.

  5. Yeah, we should go all Biblical, by numbered verse.

  6. … the Codicial Ideological Complex (CIC) that causes a lot of non-treeware to be distributed as pdfs instead of something sane … “what size rectangle of wood pulp do you plan to smear pigment on?”

    You refer to page sige. This is merely an indexing mechanism for specifying where to find something in a free-form text, faster than by reading from the start.

    The “from-to” header words at the top of the pages of a conventional telephone directory are another such mechanism. The latter requires that the entries be alphabetically organized. The sentences in a book are not alphabetically organized.

    The number of sequential pages into which a text fits determines the number of pages. Each page is assigned a number representing its position in the sequence of pages. These page numbers are the index values.

    A writer cites “page 7” as the source of his quote, allowing the reader to turn quickly to page 7.

    “Reflowable” text formats are essentially inimical to scholarly reference. Each reflow changes the numbering, unless you use PDF say. Reflowable formats are, however, ideal for ephemeral, disposable texts that are read once, and never referred to.

  7. “You refer to page size”

  8. More precisely, I think the problem here is that the tasks of “paging for rendering” and “paging for indexing” have not been clearly separated.

    Dividing a text into pages is a rendering task. Dividing a text into sections that can be used like pages as “index numbers” does not require the sections to be pages.

    Suppose the author of a text in electronic format provided embedded “section markers” that are ignored in rendering in the text, but can be used to “flip to section nr x”. That would solve the scholarly reference problem. All that is needed is an additional “section search” function in text viewers.

    In practical terms, such a new type of search/indexing mechanism might require decades before it is accepted and used for reference purposes, even though it is as simple as can be.

  9. Some writers use software for automating references, and this helps, though even then there tend to be mistakes and inconsistencies. Those who do it all manually (a majority, in my experience) quite often make a mess of it. I’ve been editing theses regularly for years and the proportion that spell every cited author’s name correctly is vanishingly small. Finding 30–40 missing references in a single chapter is not unusual. But even when proofing references is an almighty pain, I accept it as an important part of the work, and there is something academically satisfying about seeing a dodgy work built on spurious references eviscerated for that reason.

  10. Dividing a text into pages is a rendering task. Dividing a text into sections that can be used like pages as “index numbers” does not require the sections to be pages.

    This. Kindle already allows a platform-specific version of this, but I bet no one would be pleased if you used it in a citation.

  11. I have to say I agree about including publisher and place of pub, except in important specific cases (e.g. a book published more than once in the same year) – in my own published work I just used place and date – looks much cleaner and neater. Also classicists are familiar with standard referencing systems such as the Stephanus number, or simply book / chapter, which obviates the problem of getting the right edition.

    There is nothing shameful, however, in embracing a professional aesthetic beyond the strictest limit of utility — why else do politicians wear ties?

  12. I bet no one would be pleased if you used it in a citation.

    Right. As I remarked: “such a new type of search/indexing mechanism might require decades before it is accepted and used for reference purposes, even though it is as simple as can be.”

  13. with standard referencing systems such as the Stephanus number, or simply book / chapter, which obviates the problem of getting the right edition.

    Not really, especially with works which have gone through several editions due to popular demand and criticism. For example, the various editions of De la division du travail social have different contents. Another example: Kritik der reinen Vernunft: Vollständige Ausgabe nach der zweiten, hin und wieder verbesserten Auflage 1787 vermehrt um die Vorrede zur ersten Auflage 1781.

  14. Conrad: you wrote in connection with “classicists”. Did you mean that many classical Greek and Latin books can be regarded as frozen in structure (chapters, subdivisions), so that only “variant readings” are left to consider ?

  15. Stu Clayton: In practical terms, such a new type of search/indexing mechanism might require decades before it is accepted and used for reference purposes, even though it is as simple as can be.

    In some fields, the new indexing mechanism is already here. The journals of The Physical Review eliminated traditional page numbers about fifteen years ago, and a number of other physics journals have followed suit. Each article in a given volume has a six-digit article number, which encodes information about what section and issue it appeared in. Within each article, there are page numbers starting from 1. However, the internal page number is almost never used for citation; just the article number suffices.

    This is extremely useful, and I wish more physics journals would organize themselves this way. However, it would be more difficult to expand this format to other fields. In physics, practically nobody reads the dead tree versions of the journals any more. For the best journals, their entire archives are online (although it can cost quite a bit for a library to get full access to those archives, especially when the journals are published by a for-profit enterprise). Citations in the online versions of new papers are hyperlinked directly to the cited articles. Moreover, because there is typically quite a bit of mathematics in physics papers, nobody expects the electronic versions of the papers to be dynamically reflowable, so nobody is going to object to the PDF format.

  16. Federal court opinions AFAIK are initially (when they are released) cited by reference to “slip op.” that is starting on p.1 of the opinion itself. Later they are published in the Federal Register and are cited by the usual volume/page format.

  17. why else do politicians wear ties?

    Fear.

    n practical terms, such a new type of search/indexing mechanism might require decades before it is accepted and used for reference purposes, even though it is as simple as can be.

    Lawyers live and die by citations, even more than scholars, and they are now using medium-neutral citations: date, title of court, decision number, and paragraph number. This after a long and sordid history that involved my former employers (bezek unto their kothar!) pulling such stunts as trying to claim copyright on page numbers, something perilously close to trying to copyright the positive integers.

    especially when the journals are published by a for-profit enterprise

    If anything, the non-profits are worse, because they rely on those payments to support their non-profit activities. There’s nothing worse for a small business than to have a non-profit landlord.

  18. J. W. Brewer says:

    I’m not sure what lawyers John Cowan means by “they” but it ain’t all and it ain’t most and it ain’t me. And only some (US at least) courts issue their decisions with consecutively-numbered paragraphs to facilitate that sort of thing. I do now eschew the traditional obsessive-compulsive practice of giving “parallel” citations (where you give up to three different page numbers for the same citation, because the reader might be looking it up in any of several differently-numbered volumes from rival series of hard-copy “reporters”) – now that everything’s online, you can just give a single page number with the right context and the reader can typically locate it.

  19. “Conrad: you wrote in connection with “classicists”. Did you mean that many classical Greek and Latin books can be regarded as frozen in structure (chapters, subdivisions), so that only “variant readings” are left to consider?”

    Yes, pretty much. In the case of the Stephanus and Bekker numbers these are actually references to pages in early modern editions — essentially arbitrary but you can say Plato 245e and a classicist can easily find out which section of which work you are talking about — a good critical edition will print these numbers in the margins as a running guide. Obviously if you are going to talk about variant readings you need to cite particular mss or editions, but that is another matter.

  20. J. W. Brewer says:

    For many canonical but post-Classical writers of non-prose works (consider e.g. Dante or Shakespeare) there are simple reference conventions by line number within some larger unit (a canto, or scene etc), so one does not need to worry about variant pagination across editions. Not sure if there are prose writers that have something similar to the Stephanus/Bekker approach. I have a vague sense that *some* philosophers have written with section/subsection numbers (Wittgenstein?), which might serve the same function.

  21. it ain’t all and it ain’t most and it ain’t me

    Yes, I was oversimplifying: not everyone uses medium-neutral citations (MNC), and among those who do, not everyone uses pinpoint (e.g. paragraph) cites. LexisNexis, the employer in question, introduces pins about every 1000 words into decisions that don’t already have them, and AFAIK they are not trying to claim copyright on these. Australia has been all-MNC for a while now (advance, Australia fair!) and the UK too. But with only 7% of appellate decisions now being “published” (whereas all of them are in fact published in the sense of being made available to the public on web sites), MNC’s time will come even in the stodgy old U.S.

    traditional obsessive-compulsive practice

    Wikipedia gives this fine example:

    Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 158, 93 S. Ct. 705, 729, 35 L. Ed. 2d 147, 180 (1973).

    which is a cite for the proposition that person in the Fourteenth Amendment doesn’t include the unborn. The article also delivers itself of this gem, which should tickle the anatomy of our host:

    Some states, notably California and New York, have their own citation systems that differ significantly from the various federal and national standards. In California, the year is placed between the names of the parties and the reference to the case reporter; in New York, the year is wrapped by in brackets instead of parentheses. Both New York and California styles wrap an entire citation in parentheses when used as a stand-alone sentence, although New York places the terminating period outside the parentheses, whereas California places it inside. New York wraps just the reporter and page references in parentheses when the citation is used as a clause.

    Either way, both state styles differ from the national/Bluebook style of simply dropping in the citation as a separate sentence without further adornment. Both systems use less punctuation and spacing in their reporter abbreviations.

    Feh.

  22. J. W. Brewer says:

    The old style made sense when it was not reasonable to assume that all of your relevant readers had the same version of hard copy volumes collecting Supreme Court decisions (only really big law libraries would bother to stock all three) and that many of your relevant readers’ default preference was to look up references in hard copy rather than online (which continued to be the case for quite some time after online looking-up became technically feasible). But the latter assumption no longer holds and many of your readers may not have any hard-copy volumes ready to hand.

    Note that there is going to be a problem if young’uns all learn to cite new cases in a totally different fashion than used in older cases (i.e. they are going to have to learn the old system anyway because often when reading an important precedent you often want to look up the things it itself is citing and reediting a few centuries worth of decisions to redo their internal citations in a style that was not in use when they were written would be a spectacularly time-consuming project — having the old decisions in an online form where the internal citations are all hyperlinks to the thing cited is a partial but not complete solution).

  23. J. W. Brewer says:

    misnegation in prior comment – should have been was not reasonable to assume [first thing] but was reasonable to assume [second thing re default preference]. Probably would have come out clearer if I’d swapped the order because at least in this context it’s the assumed reader preference for looking up things in hard copy versus online that makes the variation between hard-copy editions an issue in the first place.

  24. LexisNexis is marking up older cases so that if you click on the old citation you get a MNC, whether or not the case actually referenced is in the system.

  25. Stefan Holm says:

    Isn’t this a case of Roman law vs Germanic law? Germanics as we are we mainly though stick to the Roman law in Sweden. This means that citations are of little or no importance. If you with your car drives into the rear of somebody else’s car you’re guilty – period! ‘But he without reason slammed on the brakes on the highway, when there was nothing whatsover at sight’!? Doesn’t matter – and you may cite whatever you like. Another story is, that the other party as well may be sentenced for careless driving. You on your side were expected to have kept a safe distance from the very beginning.

    None of those systems are of course perfect. A ‘Roman’ law can’t predict every possible event. As for the ‘Germanic’ variety it looks as if you have a favour if you’re eloquent – or rich and can pay the best of lawyers with knowledge of all precedents.

    Quotations from the past are really of little evidence, even if people more readily will accept your pet theory if you add that ‘Benjamin Franklin said it first’. (The hypersensitivity among academics is another story).

  26. John Cowan: If anything, the non-profits are worse, because they rely on those payments to support their non-profit activities. There’s nothing worse for a small business than to have a non-profit landlord.

    In the physical sciences, at least, the nonprofit journal publishers are learned societies that do not seem to subsidize other activities with their subscription fees. They have other sources of revenue—dues and conference fees, most importantly. The ultimate fact is that the cost of a digital subscription to a for-profit journal can be as much as ten times greater than the cost for a non-profit journal of comparable size. Moreover, the non-profits are generally more prestigious and thus have better articles.

  27. “There’s nothing worse for a small business than to have a non-profit landlord.”

    — Now there’s a statement that cries out for some kind of citation.

  28. @Stefan Holm: But that’s not the sort of thing that’s meant by “citation” in English-speaking legal culture. It would be a citation if you referenced a previous case in which the defendant had been acquitted for that reason.

    But in any case, do we know that the use of common vs civil law has any bearing on the use of citations in non-legal academic writing? Surely researchers in non-common-law countries find reason to draw on preceding works too.

  29. J. W. Brewer:
    Shakespeare is not a good example for canonical numeration of modern works in verse. I’ve found that the line numbers in the handiest modern commentaries (Arden, Oxford World Classics, and New Cambridge) are routinely off by 5, 10, or even more lines. Almost all of the plays have significant amounts of prose. Since editions have different relative page widths – I mean average characters per line (NCS wider than the others) – line numbers inevitably get out of sync in any scene that is even partly in prose, which is a lot of them. There are also many passages on which editors disagree whether they are prose or verse. Making them prose reduces the line numbers of subsequent verses. Even in the all-verse plays (Richard II and King John, if I recall correctly) there is often disagreement as to whether (e.g.) a six-beat sequence is one long line or two short ones, so they often have 1- or 2-line discrepancies. Worse, editors often disagree about whether a particular section is one scene or two: Cymbeline II.v in some editions is the last part of II.iv in others, with much higher line numbers. It’s a real mess, even without getting into plays where (e.g.) the Quarto and Folio each have lines not in the other.

  30. David Marjanović says:

    I wish there was an agreed-upon way of listing references.

    Oh, the wonderful world about making sure the references are all in the right style for the journal you’re submitting your manuscript to, then having the manuscript rejected, then having to reformat all references for another journal…

    EndNote helps the people who use it, sure, but it makes a mess out of references that don’t consist of the expected parts.

    I have to say I agree about including publisher and place of pub, except in important specific cases (e.g. a book published more than once in the same year) – in my own published work I just used place and date – looks much cleaner and neater.

    I hate citing places. Who cares that Surrey Beatty & Sons, the publisher of two books I’ve been citing a lot in the last few years, is physically located in Chipping Norton? You don’t need to know that to get the book (in a library or by buying it), and knowing it won’t tell you anything about the contents. Last week I found out that Chipping Norton is not in England, but in Australia – who cares? You barely need to know which planet Chipping Norton is on if you want the book.

    I thoroughly loathe the abominable practice of citing places instead of publishers. That made sense when there was exactly one publishing house in each middle-sized German city; you cited “Ravensburg”, and people knew which publisher you meant. Nowadays, though? Nowadays, the big cities of the world house offices of lots and lots of publishers, and the publishers have offices around the world. It doesn’t make any sense to claim that a book has appeared in Paris, London, New York, Buenos Aires and Tokyo; in reality it hasn’t appeared in any particular place. It’s delocalized like quantum physics! (And it was probably printed in a suburb of Shenzhen in the first place.) You cite “London” or “London and New York”, and I have no clue which publisher you mean.

    There is nothing shameful, however, in embracing a professional aesthetic beyond the strictest limit of utility — why else do politicians wear ties?

    …Because Western culture says suit & tie is the uniform men are expected to wear in formal situations? That’s a historical convention, not an aesthetic.

    In some fields, the new indexing mechanism is already here. The journals of The Physical Review eliminated traditional page numbers about fifteen years ago, and a number of other physics journals have followed suit.

    Not just physics! The PLoS journals, the BMC journals and the journals of the Linnean Society come to mind.

    However, the internal page number is almost never used for citation; just the article number suffices.

    That’s normal: almost all papers are so short that more specific information is only needed when you quote something, which almost never happens, or when a paper, say, contradicts itself and you’re telling your readers about that.

    If anything, the non-profits are worse, because they rely on those payments to support their non-profit activities. There’s nothing worse for a small business than to have a non-profit landlord.

    o_O

    The non-profits, by definition, aren’t the ones who make 37 to 42 % profit each year. Those are the big four: Elsevier, Springer, Wiley and Informa (which owns Taylor & Francis). They do things like offer journals to institutions only in bundles, so you have to pay for journals you don’t even want… For-profit academic publishing is a racket, and the impact factor keeps us in it (so far).

    I have a vague sense that *some* philosophers have written with section/subsection numbers (Wittgenstein?), which might serve the same function.

    1.0. Die Welt ist alles, was der Fall ist.

    Isn’t this a case of Roman law vs Germanic law?

    Also called code law vs case law, yes.

    Note that no place has ever introduced case law of its own free will – Louisiana still uses code law at the state level. The codes of biological nomenclature, too, regard themselves as code law.

  31. Sure, the for-profit folks make more money. But that wasn’t my point: the non-profits hang on to their rights with far more tenacity. Elsevier will occasionally throw a sop in the direction of open access; the learned societies never will.

    The bad landlords I had in mind are Columbia University and my own Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association.

    no place has ever introduced case law of its own free will

    Actually, Rome did! There is a well-known historical cycle: code > fiction (a system whereby certain onerous requirements of the code are simply presumed) > equity (overlapping legal systems, one superseding part of the other) > new code. In Roman history, the XII Tables were the first code, Justinian’s Corpus Juris was the last.

  32. AJP Autofil says:

    The idea that someone should cite Chipping Norton to mean a Sydney suburb is looney-obscurantist. It’s a well-known picturesque small town in the Cotswolds that comes up a lot in recent criminal proceedings because the PM and others (including Jeremy Clarkson & Rebekah Brooks) have houses there.

  33. After leaving Chipping Norton, the Yank saw two signs on the highway for Loose Chippings, but somehow he never seemed to come to it.

  34. If citing Chipping Norton to mean a Sydney suburb is loony obscurantism, it’s at least consistent with the loony obscurantism of using place names rather than publisher names in references. The use of “Chipping Norton” for Surrey Beatty comes from the Australian postal convention of addresses as suburb-state-postcode, ignoring the city. Postally, “Sydney” is just the northern half of the CBD, and the other 99.5% of the city is somewhere else.

  35. John Emerson says:

    Even if a scholar has digital access to the journal article through her university library, without knowing the journal title, issue, and date, finding the article is time consuming if not impossible.

    I have not found this to be true.

  36. John Emerson says:

    “Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 158, 93 S. Ct. 705, 729, 35 L. Ed. 2d 147, 180 (1973).”

    Rabelais has a half page of such references somewhere in G&P, equally pedantic except with a lot of abbreviated Latin and fewer numbers. Someone went to work and found that all of the references did refer to actual cases, and to cases which were somewhat relevant to the joke he was developing. I’d type it out for you if I was at home.

  37. Actually, the PO box for S B & S is in Baulkham Hills, for whatever that’s worth.

  38. Re:Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 158, 93 S. Ct. 705, 729, 35 L. Ed. 2d 147, 180 (1973). which is a cite for the proposition that person in the Fourteenth Amendment doesn’t include the unborn.

    Reminds me of this quote

    “Each speaker was given four minutes to present his paper, as there were so many scheduled—198
    from 64 different countries. To help expedite the proceedings, all reports had to be distributed and
    studied beforehand, while the lecturer would speak only in numerals, calling attention in this fashion to the
    salient paragraphs of his work. To better receive and process such wealth of information, we all turned
    on our portable recorders and pocket computers (which later would be plugged in for the general
    discussion). Stan Hazelton of the U.S. delegation immediately threw the hall into a flurry by emphatically
    repeating: 4, 6, 11, and therefore 22; 5, 9, hence 22; 3, 7, 2, 11, from which it followed that 22 and only
    22!! Someone jumped up, saying yes but 5, and what about 6, 18, or 4 for that matter; Hazelton
    countered this objection with the crushing retort that, either way, 22. I turned to the number key in his
    paper and discovered that 22 meant the end of the world. ” (c) Stanislaw Lem “The Futurological Congress”

  39. The other Chipping Norton is somehow in Liverpool, which is miles away. Look, Chipping Norton should become Stoke Poges, which has a much better image, and then change “Liverpool” to Gerards Cross or Slough, somewhere within shopping distance. If you need more names, choose something from the Four Quartets. In retaliation, Britain’s building new housing-crisis so-called “garden cities” that could be named Goondiwindi, Woolloomoloo, Indooroopilly etc.

  40. Not sure a place name starting with “Burnt” would be welcome in Australia.

  41. David Marjanović says:

    “Each speaker was given four minutes to present his paper,

    Ah, the bygone times when people presented papers at conferences. 🙂 Nowadays, people present unpublished work; often it remains unpublished for three more years while they keep working on it (and/or while the journal sits on the reviewed, accepted manuscript for sometimes longer than a year). If you’re lucky, the paper was published after the deadline for submitting abstracts to the conference.

  42. Goondiwindi, Woolloomoloo, Indooroopilly, etc.

    Well, it would certainly fit in with the English feeling that if you know what a place name means, it’s not much of a place name. (In the case of Bury St. Edmunds, it’s usual to know what it does not, in fact, mean.)

    people present unpublished work

    No biggie. In linguistics, people routinely cite unpublished work that was written before they or their mothers were born, and twenty years between writing and publishing is not unheard-of (notably in the case of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named).

  43. “That’s a historical convention, not an aesthetic.”

    You’re quite right, dogs ARE mammals, not quadrupeds.

  44. marie-lucie says:

    dogs ARE mammals, not quadrupeds

    Surely the two definitions are not incompatible.

  45. David Marjanović says:

    Bury St. Edmunds

    Is it St. Edmund’s burgh/borough?

    twenty years between writing and publishing is not unheard-of

    Just like three Jurassic nonmarine crocodiles from the western US I can think of right now – from very different sites and ages: the “Kayenta form”, the “Fruita form” and the “Glen Rose form”. Especially the first two appeared in many phylogenetic analyses (by different people) long before they were published themselves.

    Elsewhere in vertebrate paleontology, there are cases of 10 to 40 years between a “paper” ( = extended abstract) in Nature or Science and a useful description in a less prestigious journal that has less extreme space restrictions.

    And then there’s the late Alan Charig, who described and “named” three Triassic animals from Tanzania related to dinosaurs and crocodiles in his unpublished PhD thesis in 1956 or thereabouts; people who may or may not be his students’ students’ students redescribed and published them in the last few years, under the names Charig gave them – so that the long-dead Charig is a coathor of the second paper, but gets no official credit for the name published in the first paper, both solutions that seem somewhat unsatisfactory.

  46. David Marjanović says:

    Surely the two definitions are not incompatible.

    I’m sure that’s the point, and we mean different things by “aesthetic”.

  47. St. Edmund’s burgh/borough

    Exactly.

  48. Bury and burgh/borough are pretty close in meaning.

    The former originally meant “mound burial” and the latter “hillfort”.

  49. Stefan Holm says:

    Die Welt ist alles, was der Fall ist.

    Why do these words come into mind:

    Mensch werde wesentlich,
    denn wenn die Welt vergeht,
    so fällt der Anschein fort,
    das Wesen, das besteht.

    And from where do I have: ‘Mensch sei wesentlich‘ and ‘so fällt der zufall fort‘?

  50. David Marjanović says:

    Why do these words come into mind:

    Because Fall is two homonyms, “fall” and “case”.

    (Of course the latter comes from using the former as a literal translation.)

    And from where do I have:

    That’s what memory is like. There’s not much of a difference between “be essential [right now]” and “become essential [right now]”, and by introducing Zufall you have another Fall for your punning clan, though you’ve replaced the appearances by random coincidence.

    Anyway, the first line of the poem needs a comma, and I really don’t think Wittgenstein had the homonymy in mind.

  51. @Stan

    Some writers use software for automating references, and this helps, though even then there tend to be mistakes and inconsistencies.

    Minor political kerfuffle in the news in Ireland this week, “due to a reference error in the end notes”.

  52. Well, anyone who dangles his full weight from a drainpipe is an eejit regardless.

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