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daveguth
Daveguth  (Level: 254.0 - Posts: 1636)
Sat, 22nd May '10 5:38 PM

WP VERB TENSES

Recently, I got my lucky zillionth pink screen after incorrectly guessing a verb tense. Has there ever been a discussion on the SD about a written set of verb tense guidelines for WP authors to use? Wouldn't it make sense to work as a group on those and encourage the editors to put them in the WP authoring guidelines? And if someone saw a verb tense not following the guidelines while playing, they could notify the editors so others wouldn't stumble over the same problem?

Seems to me that every historical (i.e., not happening at this moment) event should be in the past tense. ("The Titanic sank in 1912.")

Movie, song, and novel plot lines are often written in the present tense. ("In the film Titanic, Jack freezes his buns off.") Personally, I think past tense would work just as well ("In Titanic, Jack froze his buns off"), but all I really care about is consistency.

What do other WP players/authors think? Other rules?

Chime in so we can fix this frustrating problem once and for all!






collioure
Collioure  (Level: 104.9 - Posts: 9952)
Sat, 22nd May '10 5:41 PM

I agree. There should be a standard, and I thought I read a statement here very recently that indicated one existed - such as "all movie action occurs in the present tense."

lamizell
Lamizell  (Level: 108.2 - Posts: 441)
Sun, 23rd May '10 4:39 AM

That was from me. Action in movies, songs, books, etc., are caught in amber, so to speak, so they always occur in present tense. I got caught by this one yesterday with a book that "chronicles" the 2002 Oakland A's season so it takes diligence on both the writers' and players' parts.

A lot of sources use a kind of headline style for past events so they're present tense as well ("A dozen people die in a 2001 tornado...."). Wikipedia is an obvious example. I personally think it's easier to be consistent using past tense.

kaufman
Kaufman  (Level: 256.8 - Posts: 3936)
Sun, 23rd May '10 10:53 AM

I'm not sure I believe that myself. Especially with documentaries, where true events that are clearly in the past are depicted ...

garrybl
Garrybl  (Level: 279.5 - Posts: 6641)
Sun, 23rd May '10 11:30 AM

I agree that there is a problem about tenses but so long as any puzzle is consistent I dont carer which way they go.

I'd like the in/on issue on TV programs or series sorted consistently too.

But the bottom line is that these are fairly trivial quibbles; I lose three guesses...so what.
(I keep telling myself this, but I still dont really believe it.)

B


collioure
Collioure  (Level: 104.9 - Posts: 9952)
Sun, 23rd May '10 11:34 AM



daveguth
Daveguth  (Level: 254.0 - Posts: 1636)
Sun, 23rd May '10 12:11 PM

Yeah, the "chronicles" one got me too. The past tense sure sounded better to me (and still "sounds" better too!).

But...I guess books, movies, and songs are like other inanimate objects that keep doing their thing, e.g., "My refrigerator keeps food cold." The book, "Moneyball," to this day, still "chronicles" the Oakland Athletics 2002 season. So that makes sense. (So, yeah, I blew this one the other day.)

Ken, I think your point is correct when the book, movie, or song describes an action that took place in the past, e.g., "Moneyball chronicles how the Oakland Athletics won the championship." I don't believe "Moneyball chronicles how the Oakland Athletics win the championship") would be correct.

But, then again, consider this wording: "In Moneyball, the Oakland Athletics win the championship." Is present tense better because this action continues to happen every time someone reads the book? Or should that be "won the championship" because it's an historical event. And is there a different answer when we're talking about a non-fiction book, movie, or song, e.g. "In Gone With the Wind, Rhett leaves Scarlet"?

Anybody have a nice rule to cover all this?

garrybl
Garrybl  (Level: 279.5 - Posts: 6641)
Sun, 23rd May '10 1:00 PM

Daveguth

The first rule is that there is no rule?

alvandy
Alvandy  (Level: 229.4 - Posts: 7561)
Sun, 23rd May '10 1:56 PM

I hope for consistency by the author within a given puzzle, but I don't fret over verb tenses.
My philosophy-
When in doubt, play a safety letter[s] or just wish for the best. Sorry screens are painful but not deadly.

I think?



daveguth
Daveguth  (Level: 254.0 - Posts: 1636)
Sun, 23rd May '10 3:05 PM

You guys! Are you really going to play the "it really doesn't matter in the big picture of life" card??!! Of course, it doesn't! When I sit down and play Scrabble, my life's value isn't based on whether I win or not. But I sure as hell will insist that my opponent use correctly spelled words (or any of the other rules that make that game fun)! So can't we reasonably talk about a consistent rule that covers all WPs???

alvandy
Alvandy  (Level: 229.4 - Posts: 7561)
Sun, 23rd May '10 3:15 PM


It will take all the Sploofus editors to bring this suggestion to the forefront and suggest a "rule."

Which means they [ as editors] will have to agree on how to accomplish that.

It isn't as easy as it might seem. Different strokes.......

lamizell
Lamizell  (Level: 108.2 - Posts: 441)
Sun, 23rd May '10 4:10 PM

"*Moneyball* chronicles how the Oakland Athletics won the championship."

This is exactly how you handle it. The book/documentary is present tense; the event itself, past tense.

daveguth
Daveguth  (Level: 254.0 - Posts: 1636)
Sun, 23rd May '10 4:21 PM

And is "In Moneyball, the Oakland Athletics won the championship" correct?

lamizell
Lamizell  (Level: 108.2 - Posts: 441)
Sun, 23rd May '10 6:30 PM

That's an awkward sentence, but technically, no. Because you're talking specifically about the action "caught" within the book, it would be present tense.

daveguth
Daveguth  (Level: 254.0 - Posts: 1636)
Sun, 23rd May '10 9:59 PM

1. Yes, the sentence is awkward, but we get statements like that all the time in the WPs.

2. I'm now convinced that the best approach is to always use the present tense when referring to books, movies, and songs, except in the above exception ("Moneyball describes how the Oakland won the championship.") Thanks for your expertise, Lamizell.

3. Any editor want to speak up and comment on whether there's a conscious effort to follow this rule, or does the future hold what Barry and Al suggest--every WP author can set his/her own rules?

lamizell
Lamizell  (Level: 108.2 - Posts: 441)
Tue, 25th May '10 1:54 AM

By the way, the present tense in movies extends to the actors. While, for example, Greta Garbo might have "researched" her role as *Queen Christina,* she still "stars" in it (not "starred"), and she "plays" or "portrays" the Swedish royal. To use past tense indicates Garbo is no longer in the movie. This obviously differs from plays and TV, where an actor might have once appeared in a role, but has since left (i.e., "Judi Dench was Sally Bowles in the original British production of *Cabaret,*" or "Maggie Grace is annoying in the first seasons of *Lost*; I'm glad Shannon didn't appear in Season 3.").

daveguth
Daveguth  (Level: 254.0 - Posts: 1636)
Tue, 25th May '10 11:06 AM

Well, our conclusions from this thread suggest that last night's Last Song from Movies WP conistently broke this rule--"played" was used in most answers.

Oh well.

lamizell
Lamizell  (Level: 108.2 - Posts: 441)
Fri, 28th May '10 1:40 PM

Hi-ho, it's the Grammar Police here. Although warned by Barry right up / there, I got caught by *three* pink screens in one single puzzle last night because I kept switching adjectives instead of recognizing an in/on situation as regards television shows. So here it goes:

IN is used when describing a moment enclosed in time -- "I have dinner in the evening."
ON is used for specificity in talking about a particular day, date, or time -- "I have dinner in the evening; on Tuesday, I had pizza."

Someone appears "in" a TV show (just like someone is in a play, musical, or movie), but the show is "on" TV (like a play is on Broadway or a movie is on the silver screen). An exception is when the person discussed isn't a series regular. "Robin Williams has come a long way from his days in *Mork and Mindy*; he'll be a guest on *Letterman* tonight" -- although part of that has to do with that show's stage setting. There's nothing wrong with saying something like "Mandy Moore is in the season finale of *Grey's Anatomy* as long as you include something about the specifics of her appearance ("season finale" or "on Thursday").

dasfunk
Dasfunk  (Level: 181.6 - Posts: 2307)
Fri, 28th May '10 3:53 PM

I'm going to offer a contrarian's viewpoint that some players are certain to scorn.

The way I look at it, Sploofus can adopt a 375-page Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation that all WP authors must memorize and swear allegiance to, or we can adopt the more laid-back and restrained approach of accepting the idiosyncrasy and sloppiness of everyday speech.

While it's not technically correct to say "Tim Curry rocked a merry widow in Rocky Horror Picture Show" - after all, he appears, to this day, in all extant copies of the film - that's exactly the way we would expect to hear that sentiment expressed in casual conversation. Of course, if someone said "rocks" to me, I wouldn't assume he was William Strunk or Safire, either.

Like the old expression goes, "You pays your money and you takes your choice". When I assume the risk of not taking that extra letter, I risk the misadventure of the "Sorry" screen.

Much of this dispute is mooted by the fact that "appeared" and "appears", "starred" and "stars" and a good number of other English-language tense conjugations have a different letter count.

The way I look at it (for whatever that opinion is worth), WP is a game of risk as well as skill. I can purchase insurance at the potential "cost" of increasing my "move count", or I can feel the wind whipping through my hair, as I speed madly down the highway to Sorry hell.

If anyone's got change for my two cents...I'm really hurting over here....

daveguth
Daveguth  (Level: 254.0 - Posts: 1636)
Fri, 28th May '10 5:03 PM

Dasfunk, I don't believe your expousing the contrarian view. I offered the idea of a verb tense rule only because it seemed to be a recurring theme in Salty Dog posts; however, there was very little support for even one rule, let alone a 375-page rule book.. Personally, verb tenses is only one of many reasons I see pink screens in my nightmares, so I don't anticipate any need for therapy if I see a few thousand more along the way.

That said, I think Lamizell's comments have been very interesting--and particularly useful for any folks out there who write matter more serious than Word Puzzles.

lamizell
Lamizell  (Level: 108.2 - Posts: 441)
Fri, 28th May '10 7:01 PM

I think we've suggested only three or four guidelines, not a rule book, and consistency was the prime objective. But I'm not going to apologize for thinking (hoping!) some writers and editors might also like to be correct in their usage.


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