Subject: Re: Why is this code broken?
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2002 15:26:34 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Gareth McCaughan
| I'd expect "comparand", by analogy with "operand" and "multiplicand" and so
| on.

  I briefly considered it, could not find it, went back to my Latin books and
  thought I had derived "comparend" correctly.  (Perhaps it is the correct word
  for something else.  Latin is like that.)

| (Exercise for the reader: work out why I think "multiplicand" a better model
| than "addend".)

  I would appreciate if you explained this, instead, since I already thought I
  had worked it out.

| I think I'd say that it *is* a word, even though it isn't in any dictionary I
| possess.  It can be formed using a fairly standard process from an existing
| word, so it's a word.

  Well, I know a bunch of lexicographers from my SGML days, and have access to
  *huge* citation databases.  Neither "comparend" or "comparand" have been
  noted in them as sufficiently well established to be recognized neologisms,
  but it is of course invalid to reason from absence of information.

| I get 973 hits for "comparand" at Google.

  Google is an interesting form of democracy in action.  It is where I would go
  to confirm that a majority of people I know nothing about other than that
  they chose to use the same words I searched for believe something to be so.
  Considering the staggering amount of crappy disinformation that gets posted
  and published on the Net, the preponderance of nutcases who use USENET in
  preference to real publishers and the general degeneration of language used
  on-line, I am hard pressed to believe a google search more authoritative than
  polling people at the mall.  (This cynic opinion has been formed after many a
  discussion with several of the people behind Alltheweb.)

  Incidentally, if you ask for pages that Google consider "English", the number
  of hits for comparand drops to 621 and if they are required to be located in
  the United States, it drops to 407.  In other words, 58% of the raw hits are
  not in English and not "in" the United States.  I think this is very relevant
  information in addition to the raw count.

  However, after I have talked with search engine people, I have concluded that
  the only actual question google and the like can answer is "is it part of the
  mainstream?", or rephrased "how many people agree with me?"  This is, in my
  not at all humble opinion, _the_ most extremely irrelevant question.  Worse,
  after the United States of America managed to elect George W. Bush, which was
  frightening enough by itself, even more people contributed to high approval
  ratings for that emotional bozo, and my trust in the majority of the American
  people's ability to get anythying right dropped to the same level as the
  disapproval rating of that real-life version of Anakin from Star Wars episode
  II.  I considered switching to a British accent and spelling just to distance
  myself from the distastefulness of such cluelessness on a national scale.  So
  for now, "X number of Americans prefer this" is only disqualifying.  I mean,
  when people can seriously argue that George W. Bush is a _leader_ when he
  clearly only parrots the last smart person he has had in his office, there
  goes my trust in _their_ thinking ability, too.  When you have ousted that
  stupid child from office and put someone with enough brains to be predictable
  and actually hold a thought and argue coherently without script, I may once
  again consider the American public and its opinions worthy of attention.
  Until then, I am predisposed to be most skeptical of Google results, too.
  Guide to non-spammers: If you want to send me a business offer, please be
  specific and do not put "business offer" in the Subject header.  If it is
  urgent, do not use the word "urgent".  If you need an immediate answer,
  give me a reason, do not shout "for your immediate attention".  Thank you.