26 Jun 2008

Yep, I'm a computer nerd

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Topic: 
As evidence of which, I read Geoff Pullum's example in this Language Log post without initially twigging to its strangeness in terms of ordinary English:
Please select a valid pick up date (DD/MM/YYYY) greater than today.
Of course, as several of the commenters pointed out, Pullum doesn't quite get the mechanics of how dates are normally treated by computers right (typically it would be stored a number of days from some epoch such as in Unix time 4, or Julian days, but I have to admit that I have spent enough time programming with dates that I find greater-than and less-than relationships a natural way of looking at them. If you too are a computer nerd and don't see the problem, consider saying "I'll probably have the project finished sometime greater than tomorrow and less than the 30th." I haven't gone quite so far as to use that terminology in my ordinary language, although I wouldn't be surprised to discover some who had. I do know a few people who talk about grepping their bags.