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3:01 PM
Once the votes for moderators are open, you are sure to get a moderator.
 
I don't plan to run, for the very reasons outlined above.
Besides, pro-tem mods have to run, too.
nohat and Kosmonaut, I mean.
And I would like to keep them.
 
I was thinking to run, but then I thought I was silly to hope for that.
 
Everybody still has two weeks to think about it.
 
I call the extra menu silly because I find silly that one is trusted to vote to close a question but it's not trusted to see the list of the questions that have been voted to be closed.
To make a comparison with drupal.org, if I am trusted to deal with content, I am also trusted to deal with taxonomy terms.
There is also meyer, as pro-tempore administrator.
 
That would be an issue to be raised on the meta Meta.
Perhaps it has been raised already. I must check.
 
3:11 PM
meta.stackoverflow.com?
 
Well, here it is.
1
Q: On Home or Question page show close/reopen status

Lance RobertsIt'd be nice for questions that have close or reopen votes to show that on the home or questions page, maybe like this pic: EDIT: This would only show for the 3k+ users who could vote to open or close.

Yeah, I call it the meta Meta, since MSO is a bit too cryptic.
 
I call it the mined field. ;-)
The last answer to that question makes clear what the general thought on SE is.
 
Why "mine field"? The folks there are quite friendly and helpful, you just have to acclimatize.
The votes are used differently, and there's a lot of joking and fooling around.
 
They are friendly, if you don't report something wrong in their software.
 
Oh. That hasn't been my personal impression so far.
 
3:18 PM
Try to make note the font they chose is too little, and you will see where their being friend goes.
Be prepared to be called blind.
 
I actually remember that one.
-6
Q: Use a different font for the textarea

kiamlalunoI am logging in in SO from a Mac, and the font used for the question textarea is difficult to read. Could not be possible to have two buttons that allow to change the font, if somebody is having problems with the browser he is actually using? As alternative, if that is not possible, could not be ...

 
I think I remember it too; I wonder why. ;-)
 
Hahaha.
Cheer up, buddy. Not the end of the world.
 
It's not the end of the world, but it's the proof of why I call m.s.o a mine field. :-)
 
Fair to say.
 
3:22 PM
It's also the proof that what they wrote in the FAQ is the first thing they don't follow.
> Treat others with the same respect you’d want them to treat you. We’re all here to learn together. Be tolerant of others who may not know everything you know. Bring your sense of humor.
That is also reported on m.s.o, but I guess it doesn't matter.
Anyway, I wonder why I don't have anymore the problem with the font without to change any settings on my Mac.
 
Oh. So it's fixed now?
 
It is fixed.
 
One less reason to get upset. ))
 
Or one reason more. ;-)
 
This reminds me of a saying in Russian, "if you've been burned by hot milk, you'll blow on hot water".
 
3:29 PM
What is about a chamomile tea?
:-)
 
That one too.
I suppose.
 
I don't get the meaning of the saying.
 
The idea is that hot milk is usually insanely hot, as compared to hot water.
So if you take a risk and fail, you are less likely to take risks in the future, even if they're relatively smaller.
You will even blow on your well-tempered chamomile tea, even though it's nowhere as hot as boiling milk.
 
Oh. I gave a different meaning to blow. :-)
 
There's another saying to the same extent, "a scared crow is afraid of a bush".
 
3:36 PM
I read it as blow up.
 
I have a feeling that this is a dupe: english.stackexchange.com/questions/11023/…
 
Are you referring to this question?
0
Q: Is the usage of "are" correct when referring to a team/group/band?

Mofoo Possible Duplicate: Is staff plural? It always sounds wrong to me when people refer to a a proper team/group/band/etc in plural form, e.g.: Nirvana are the creators of grunge. The Avalanche are on the road to the Stanley Cup this year. To me, this sounds correct: Nirvana is...

1
Q: Is a music band a singular or a collective entity, grammatically speaking?

Arjun J RaoWhat is correct to say? Korn* is a great band OR Korn* are a great band. (* You can replace your favourite band's name here) Of course everybody there is no doubt about the following sentences: The Beatles are a great band Led Zeppelin is a great band But with certain kin...

 
Yes!
Couldn't find it.
I left them all in a comment.
Thanks a bunch.
 
You are welcome.
 
3:54 PM
This is starting to get interesting:
74
Q: Propose a new 20k reputation privilege

Jeff AtwoodRight now, the maximum privilege "unlock" is at 10k reputation: http://meta.stackoverflow.com/privileges We're considering adding a new 20k reputation privilege, but having a hard time figuring out exactly what it should be. Two guidelines: I would like it to be more than cosmetic -- I'd pre...

 
They should add a new privilege between 4k and 10k.
 
I think if there's a cool new privilege for 20k, people will get motivated enough to pass 5k without even noticing.
 
I am not sure. :-)
 
But what if it's really, really cool. Like, really cool!
 
The fact users who can vote for closing a question must do a hard work to close the questions that are duplicates is already a signal that something needs to be changed.
To make an example, on drupal.org I can remove spam from a specific user without to delete the single posts.
 
4:08 PM
Hm. That's an interesting idea.
Though I'm not sure it will fly.
 
Hello. I am curious what the Gates of Dawn part in The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (the name of the 7th chapter of The Wind in the Willows) means. I am not sure, however, that it would be a suitable question for E.SE. :-/
 
They will have to split the mod tools even further: mod, 10k, 5k.
 
If drupal.org would be like stackexchange.com, I should delete each single post. So, I am trusted to delete posts, or comments, but I have to work hard to do something that give benefits to the site.
Would that sound correct?
 
@Vitaly: that's an interesting question. I think it's the literal meaning, but I haven't read the book, I only know a song by Van Morrison.
 
@RegDwight I don't even get the literal meaning, if there is one! ;)
Is it even idiomatic to use gates to refer to the beginning of something in English?
 
4:13 PM
I guess so. Is your native language Russian, by any chance?
 
at the gates of WWII? at the gates of the 21st century?
Yes, it is.
 
Sure, you could say that.
 
Ah, thanks.
 
Well then note that in Russian, the 7th chapter is titled «свирель у порога зари».
 
That doesn't sound right in Russian, however.
 
4:15 PM
I am not sure I get the meaning of "the gates of the 21th century".
 
I think it sounds much like the English version, quite poetical.
 
I understand "the hell gates", though.
In Italian it would be "alle porte del ventunesimo secolo", probably.
 
A quick Google search even returns a book titled "At the gates of the century".
I'm not sure if "на пороге" would sound better...
 
To my ears, "at the gates of the new century" sounds better.
 
I'll have to ask Kosmonaut about that some time.
 
4:19 PM
Without "new", I would understand the phrase as "at the exit of the century".
 
«На пороге двадцать первого века» sounds correct to me.
 
Yeah, I'm just not sure if "свирель на пороге зари" sounds better.
I think it sounds less poetical, more down-to-earth.
Like it's literally lying there.
On the ground or something.
 
Exactly, if you are talking about the gates of dawn here.
That's the mental picture I invariably get.
Wow, the OED appears to have nailed the phrase:
3. Phrases. a. at the gate: fig., close at hand.
1340 Hampole Pr. Consc. 2000 For when þe dede es at þe yhate, Þan es he warned over late
——
Also the gate(s of death, used to denote a near approach to death.
 
Just found out that "At the gates of the century" is a book of poetry.
 
Nice.
Sadly, the OED has no recent citations for at the gate. The 1340 one is alone there.
 
4:29 PM
OK; my Calabrian woman is here. I better switch off here.
 
bye @kiamlaluno.
 
Bye @kiamlaluno
 
Bye all. Have a good one, and thank you for the company. :-)
 
@Vitaly: Hm. I think if you include all of this research in your question, it would certainly be on-topic for this site. As in, you're not sure what the phrase means, you've checked the OED, the most recent citation is rather old, so that leaves you wondering whether that phrase is ever used in a non-poetical context.
Or something like that.
 
There is one last resort, though: searching for the phrase in various corpora, which I have procrastinated so far.
 
4:36 PM
Well, if you want to answer your question all by yourself, more power to you!
Not many people do that much research before posting.
 
Piper at the Gates of Dawn is a frequent hit in the BNC
 
But I would bet that all of them ultimately go back to the book.
Winged words.
 
no poetic meaning so far (except for the piper). The template seems to be [at the gates of][city/town/building]
At the gates of Vienna the army …
 
Yeah well, that's certainly the most popular usage.
Them were literal gates, after all.
 
and some fixed expressions of the form [at the gates of][Heaven/Hell]
 
4:42 PM
... whence that.
But dawn really is particular, to my ears.
Just a quick note, I'll be leaving in a few minutes.
 
They are standing at the gates of history, awaiting the embrace of immortality. Sunday News, Chicago Sun-Times, 1996, Mark Brown
Ok, bye @RegDwight
 
5:04 PM
Bye all.
Oh wait, @nohat are you here?
The please have a look at this:
0
Q: literally as a hyperbole

AndreyI have seen a lot of backlash in internet media against people using the word literally to mean something not literal. Something like "he was literally as big as a house" to mean someone was very big I think this comic sums up the anti literal movement well http://theoatmeal.com/comics/literally ...

Now I'm out. Cheers.
 
5:22 PM
Hello @nohat, mind if I ask you a question about linguistics in general? Is there an area of linguistics that studies mental pictures and associations people get when presented with lexical stimuli? More importantly, if there is such a branch of linguistics, are there recognized monographs and textbooks addressing it?
 
@Vitaly There is the field of psycholinguistics, but I don’t know much about recent research. Much of psycholinguistics research has to do with acoustic perception, but there is certainly some research into other areas of the relationship between the brain and language
@RegDwight looking...
and ... closed
although I do suppose it is a shame that the The Oatmeal reference remains as the accepted answer there despite having fewer votes than mine
also, my answer probably should be updated to address the issue of style vs. grammaticality
maybe if i merge the older question with the newer one, I think that resets the acceptedness, but I'm not sure
 
6:26 PM
@nohat: interesting how JohnFX has gone the way of Ex-user. Oh well. I didn't want that, but it's his decision.
I remember one question that was merged by you.
There is no indication in the timeline that the answer got unaccepted, then accepted again.
No, wait, perhaps it was a different one, this doesn't seem to have had actual answers that were merged in.
Just went through the list of all questions that have ever been merged, there's no indication that the acceptedness is resetted. In one case, it's just pure coincidence: english.stackexchange.com/posts/8/timeline
The answer got unaccepted 3 minutes before the merge.
 
6:43 PM
@RegDwight oh dear
 
Does anyone know what the Tā’ is doing at the bottom of LanguageLog? :D
 
If Jeff is burninating the English tag, now I wonder if the Usage tag makes any sense at all ...
 
@Robusto well, I've always thought the usage tag was pretty vacuous, like it's the tag used when people are too lazy to think of a tag
 
@Vitaly: I don't see a "Tā’"...
 
@RegDwight ت
 
6:45 PM
Ah, that. Yeah, I can see it.
I can't even tell Arabic from Farsi in too many cases...
 
I thought at one time that "usage" was distinct from some other cases that fall under the more general rubric of "English" ... but with the "English" bin gone, it's all usage, innit?
 
That is a smiley face :) rotated 90° CW
 
That crossed my mind, but what's a smiley doing there?
 
exactly
 
@Robusto nah, some questions are about English and not usage but they have more specific tags. There's no need for tags as general as English and usage. I think it would be like having "coding" and "programming" tags on SO
 
6:49 PM
I'm not sure what "usage" is supposed to mean, either. Even etymology has to do with usage. Pronunciation, too. Word-order, nouns, dialects, you name it. All usage.
We're not talking about a dead language, I mean.
 
@RegDwight It is a tiny image used for tracking statistics
 
for me, the tag seems to have a descriptivist pointer edge, as opposed to the prescriptivist approach
 
I've looked at that JavaScript code, but I didn't see a Ta.
 
but that's just me.
 
I think all the questions tagged "usage" which ask about correctness should be re-tagged grammaticality
all the others, meh
 
6:51 PM
I like "meh". Can we have that as a tag, pretty please? It is much more descriptive.
 
Well, let's take a look at a few
 
for example, I tagged this question of mine with the usage tag, looking forward to actual accounts from non-native speakers whether that phrase is really used, even though it's not reported on the Web very well
 
22
Q: Does apologizing entail recognizing being at fault?

Borror0Consider this example: I'm sorry if you got the impression that I meant to insult you. That was not my intention. Would it be correct to say that the above person apologized? All the dictionaries I have checked defined "to apologize" as admitting one's fault. However, in the above example...

 
for all I know, it might have been used in oral tradition, but not on the Web
 
that one should probably be tagged "semantics"
 
6:54 PM
OMG we don't even have a "semantics" tag. Now that's embarrassing.
We only have "semantic-shift".
 
@RegDwight well we have a "meaning" tag but I think there is a useful distinction to be drawn
 
We have a semantics tag on Atheism.SE. Aka booya! ;))
 
Yeah, I mean we don't even have it as a synonym or a placeholder. Nada.
 
Well, I encourage anyone reading here to start the tag by re-tagging that question
:-)
 
Yeah, count me in for taking the usage tag out. Or count me out for leaving the usage tag in. Your choice.
 
6:56 PM
I've got my Taxonomist badge already ))
 
Grats.
I think I got that one on SO, but I can't remember ...
 
@Robusto Maybe you could draft a nice answer here:
5
Q: Does the "usage" tag have any value?

nohatSeems like pretty much every question is a usage question, so keeping around a "usage" tag seems about as pointless as having a "programming" tag at Stack Overflow would be. Does anyone object to my re-tagging questions to not have the pointless tag "usage"?

 
@nohat: I'll take a look.
Meanwhile, I'll just remark that once I found English.SE I haven't posted much at all on SO itself. I got tired of answering the same kind of questions, and so few seemed new ... I wonder if there is an expiration date for new-seeming questions on an SE site.
 
well I just created 3 new tags: semantics, speech-acts, and pragmatics
maybe I could also create entailment :-)
 
@Robusto: I got to 3k on SO and then flatlined. It wasn't worth my time anymore.
@nohat: do we have a use case? For entailment, that is?
 
7:01 PM
speech-acts?
 
Speech act is a technical term in linguistics and the philosophy of language. The contemporary use of the term goes back to John L. Austin's doctrine of locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary acts. Many scholars identify 'speech acts' with illocutionary acts, rather than locutionary or perlocutionary acts. As with the notion of illocutionary acts, there are different opinions on the nature of speech acts. The extension of speech acts is commonly taken to include such acts as promising, ordering, greeting, warning, inviting someone and congratulating. Locutionary, illocutionary and ...
 
This makes me think of locusts. Not sure why.
 
sentences 2-4 in that summary are stupid
short version, a speech act is when saying something does something other than communicate
 
<looks at watch while nohat fixes Wikipedia>
 
Ah, thanks for the clarification. I was thinking that maybe I could replace the usage tag in my question with that new one, but apparently, the answer is no. I didn't know that technical term.
 
7:04 PM
@RegDwight haha I've done enough for Wikipedia, methinks
 
I happen to know.
 
Secret confession ... I do most of my posting on English.SE (and used to on SO) while I am compiling code. :)
 
<looks at watch while someone digs up that link to XKCD>
 
It keeps my brain engaged while not distracting me with another coding issue.
I know which XKCD you're talking about.
 
Everyone and his grandma seems to know it by now)))
 
7:06 PM
haha
 
This one is my fave: xkcd.com/208 ... my son even got me the T-shirt for Christmas! And I wear it proudly.
 
I like that one too
Perl can't get no respect these days
 
Hehe, I wasn't even familiar with that one.
I seem to be the last person on Earth still using Perl. After nohat, that is.
 
You don't need Perl for regex, though.
 
18
A: What is the longest word in the English language without a repeated letter?

nohatI wrote a quick little Perl script to scan through the CMU Pronouncing Dictionary: #!/usr/local/bin/perl use warnings; use strict; use Data::Dumper; my @size; while (<>) { my ($word) = split / /, $_; next unless $word =~ m/^[A-Z]+$/; my @letters = split //, $word; my %coun...

 
7:09 PM
I love being able to use it on the Unix command line.
@nohat: Now that is just the sort of day-saving use case the XKCD comic is talking about! You are my hero!
 
Haha you noticed that my answer post time is 12 minutes after the question was asked?
 
How much was coding and how much was execution time?
 
The only Perl-related question I have ever touched across the entire network was this one:
18
A: Extracting code from photograph of T-shirt via OCR

RegDwightYou can probably type faster than you can clean up images and install OCR engines: #!/usr/bin/perl (my$d=q[AA GTCAGTTCCT CGCTATGTA ACACACACCA TTTGTGAGT ATGTAACATA CTCGCTGGC TATGTCAGAC AGATTGATC GATCGATAGA ...

And I didn't even use Perl to answer it... ((((
 
Execution time? It's not like I wrote it in Ruby
 
I did use Perl to validate the output, but that doesn't count.
 
7:13 PM
Not sure how long the dictionary is.
@nohat: btw I responded to that link about usage ...
 
this reminds me, I once tried to combine words from several major dictionaries into a single plain text list
 
@Robusto Yes and I upvoted your answer
 
including the OED. :)
it has 513899 lines.
 
My comment here seems to have been too cryptical...
0
A: literally as a hyperbole

JohnFxIt isn't a grammar issue at all. The backlash stems from the fact that they are using the word incorrectly. "Literally" should not be used for emphasis. Just because a lot of people make the same mistake doesn't make it correct.

Now I am actually told that mistake is a noun...
@Vitaly: is that one word per line?
 
@RegDwight Yeah, ifile.it/cq43s0p
 
7:18 PM
I ran a regular expression script on an entire deploy directory, looking for all CSS colors that were used, concatenating and sorting the references along with their file paths and all that good stuff, and dumping it into a log file which I then used to create an HTML display so we could see which colors were being used over and over again with slight (too slight to notice) variations. It took about 3 minutes to run.
 
there are some “words” with spaces and hyphens, though
 
Well, that's a lot of colors to cross-check, potentially.
 
@RegDwight: I would call the comment very subtle and nuanced.
 
@Vitaly: I have to request a download ticket. I believe you. )))
Thank you, @Robusto.
And thanks for the backup @nohat.
 
@RegDwight I clarified, hopefully to everyone's edification
 
7:22 PM
I wonder what the output of the Perl script would have been against that list of mine
 
Ah, gotta run ... good talkin' wit yez all ...
 
I don't have a Perl interpreter installed currently.
Bye @Robusto
 
Bye @Robusto.
@nohat I just realized that poor JohnFx is now getting all these comments delivered straight to his inbox. That's kind of sad and funny at the same time.
 
is there a way to search for a word that occurs in question bodies, but not in answer bodies?
 
Hm, I guess no. I only know of inquestion:ID, but it searches everything.
Just looked at the Advanced Ninja options, doesn't look good.
 
7:33 PM
lame... I guess I will have to use the data explorer. I want to find questions that ask about correctness by searching for questions that contain the words "correct", "incorrect", "wrong", etc.
and re-tag them "grammaticality"
 
I'm still on MSO, digging through related posts. Nothing so far.
 
I'm starting to think the tag "grammar" is pretty vacuous too. Too broad of a tag I think, like "usage"
I think they should both be blacklisted so questions have to think a little harder about tagging their questions with "English", "usage", "grammar"
 
Hm. I would have to see what questions get tagged with "grammar".
Found nothing on the search options, BTW. Either my Google-fu/MSO-fu/blog-fu is too weak, or nobody has actually ever requested that.
Oha. The Chuck Norris quesion is about grammar, according to the tags.
"Is hyphen really the longer line", too.
The vast majority so far seems kind of sort of okayish, but the exceptions are obnoxious.
 
Something along the lines of this should do
It's not that I think the tag "grammar" is being misused, just that in most cases it doesn't really add any information
 
7:52 PM
@nohat: the query looks good, except you don't have to assemble the URL by hand, you can just say SELECT Id as [Post Link]
 
oh neat, that works even better
i'm not even sure i want to know how that works
 
I think the grammar tag is supposed to denote that the question is not about pronunciation or etymology, say. But, we actually have much finer granularity with "word-order" and whatnot. "Grammar" is too all-encompassing in that regard,
though I would still like to check if it can be replaced with something more meaningful in most cases. I don't want it to be just thrown away, leaving lots of questions simply tagged "adverbs".
 
I suggest a tag: adjective-nouns-verb-adverbly-preposition-each-other.
 
Heh. If not for autocompletion, that would make an excellent captcha.
Let's just tag everything with the complete Jabberwocky.
 
8:10 PM
How come that crossed your mind? I was away and was thinking about mentioning 'twas brillig when I come back here.
On a related note, I witnessed Russian English leaners saying that Alice is boring to read yesterday
I can't even imagine why they would think so.
Let's tag everything with Finnegans Wake instead.
 
That makes me really sad, I actually read Alice as a child, in Russian, with excellent footnotes by the translator that filled half of each page, so I kind of read it in two languages for the most part, it was my favouritestest book ever, and then those pictures by Tenniel!
 
I agree, Alice is a gem.
 
I am yet to read Finnegans Wake, At Swim-Two-Birds, or Ulysses, for that matter. I am told that after page 200 Joyce just gave up and copied a phone book, but nobody has ever read that far.
 
LOL. I couldn't make it past the first 20 pages with Finnegans Wake. Ulysses, on the other hand, proved rather enjoyable for me, but I read an annotated version of it.
I also happen to think that the Russian translation of Ulysses is one of the best translations into Russian out there
I sometimes cross-check the English and the Russian versions of Ulysses to see how an expression might be translated
 
Oh! Now I'm definitely checking out that book.
Have to get both versions, pronto.
You know the name of the translator?
 
8:22 PM
Yeah, Хоружий
 
Excellent, thanks a lot.
 
You're welcome
It's not an easy read, I have to warn you.
Many people just can't stand the stream of consciousness style
 
Yeah, I have been warned, many times over, and then many times again.
 
:D
 
That's why I have never been in a rush.
As to At-Swim-Two-Birds, it appears that I'll be getting the German translation by Harry Rowohlt. He seems to be one of the best En/De translators of all times, certainly up to the task.
 
Haha " Ведь если переврали, то можно опять порадоваться в душе тому, какой я умный, образованный, и как хорошо английский знаю." Spot on.
 
Byel esli perebrala, to mozhno ogyats poradovatsya v dushe tomu, kakoi ya ymni obrazovannii, i kak xorosho angliskii znayu. Correct transliteration? I could only catch a bit of the tail end, something about "... and how well I know English"?
 
Ved' yesli perevrali, to mozhno opyat' poradovatsya v dushe tomu, kakoy ya umnyy, obrazovannyy, i kak khorosho angliyskiy znayu.
 
BTW, @RegDwight, your profile claims you're a non-native speaker. I'm curious what your native language is ...
And yeah, my transliteration had some glaring errors. One year of Russian in high school doesn't really cut it ...
 
Many people are. I've got two.
 
8:46 PM
May we know what they are?
 
I'm still struggling with Japanese.
 
日本語が大好きです、ぼくは。。。
But you didn't answer my question. Are you evading it for a reason?
 
Sorry, didn't mean to log off. Talk about coincidence. You ask me if I'm evading, and my connection dies.
 
hehe
 
Well, I kind of am. Wait a sec, I'll check on meta
1
A: Stack sites must support primary and secondary language when defining user profile

RegDwightFirst of all, there are issues that are much more urgent, such as the site search being rather useless, but even those feature requests are currently being rejected on the meta Meta. My impression is that the powers that be are somewhat hesitant about tweaking the StackExchange engine for beta ...

 
8:51 PM
ma kasi la suno sin li seli. soweli meli li kama sijelo. soweli suli li mama meli li jo e soweli lili jelo.
soweli sin li kama** >_<
 
See, I can kind of even read what you wrote there, @Robusto. But not quite. In fact, I've forgotten about Japanese for about a year only to find out that I no longer can read katakana! I only recognize a few kana it has in common with hiragana. I am shocked.
I can't read what Vitaly's writing, though.
 
It is a translation into an artificial language of a poem by Sergey Yesenin.
The artificial language is Toki pona.
 
I know the name, but not the language.
 
Toki Pona is a constructed language, first published online in mid-2001. It was designed by translator and linguist Sonja Elen Kisa of Toronto. Toki Pona is a minimal language. Like a pidgin, it focuses on simple concepts and elements that are relatively universal among cultures. Kisa designed Toki Pona to express maximal meaning with minimal complexity. The language has 14 phonemes and 125 root words. It is not designed as an international auxiliary language but is instead inspired by Taoist philosophy, among other things. The language is designed to shape the thought processes of its ...
 
Will it help if I transliterate it into Romaji? Nihongo ga daisuki desu, boku wa ...
 
8:57 PM
One could probably master toki pona in a couple hours, given that it has only 125 root words and pretty much no grammar, compared to English.
 
What have you done, Vitaly, now I'm sobbing.
 
The "boku wa" is not really necessary, but the extra reference softens it a little I think.
 
I was not familiar with that poem.
 
@RegDwight The translation is just beautiful. Try to read it out loud. In toki pona, the first syllable is stressed.
 

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