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"Until", the worst word in human history?

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Being a programmer the word until annoys me because is imprecise. According to the free dictionary:

·Up to the time of

·Before(a specified time)

 

So in the first one, it arrives at the object of action and perhaps finishes it(closed limit on the set.) But in the second one doesn't (open limit on the set.)

 

For example:
I ate until I was satisfied (not after being satisfied, but at least it arrived to satisfaction by inference, closed limit on the set.)

I ate before I was satisfied (not arriving at satisfaction, open limit on the set)

She sat until I came back (not after, but up to)

We stop working until our manager says so (work before the event, stop after the event)

[i]He can't accept the invitation until I approve it(before, not up to)[/i]

Edited by gasto

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Being a programmer the word until annoys me because is imprecise. According to the free dictionary:

·Up to the time of

·Before(a specified time)

 

So in the first one, it arrives at the object of action and perhaps finishes it(closed limit on the set.) But in the second one doesn't (open limit on the set.)

 

For example:
I ate until I was satisfied (not after being satisfied, but at least it arrived to satisfaction by inference, closed limit on the set.)

I ate before I was satisfied (not arriving at satisfaction, open limit on the set)

She sat until I came back (not after, but up to)

We stop working until our manager says so (work before the event, stop after the event)

[i]He can't accept the invitation until I approve it(before, not up to)[/it]

I think the problem is that you are trying to divide time into two segments and figure out which one the event should go in.  But the concept "until" actually works with the idea that the time is divided into three segments, or perhaps two segments and a point, which is a degenerate case of a segment.  The event is like a fence between two fields - it's not inside either field, it's a transition between them.  Like this:

Segment 1: I was eating/we were working/she was waiting/he isn't able to accept the invitation

Segment 2: I stopped eating/we stopped working/she stopped waiting/I approve the invitation

Segment 3: I was not eating/we were not working/she was not waiting/he is able to accept the invitation

Completely consistent ^_^

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Try learning French, and learn words like e.g.  jamais. Which can, depending on context, mean:

  • never
  • ever / at all
  • forever

 

As in, the same word means:

I've never seen him before.

I will forever love you.

Did you ever try reading my mail at all?

 

Or try German where "until" is a homonyme of the past tense of "to bite" and its substantive, and you have homonymes between the neutral article and a conjunction which loosely corresponds to "that" (and a few other meanings).

 

By the way, what is the exact unique meaning of static or using in C++? biggrin.png

Edited by samoth

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By the way, what is the exact unique meaning of static or using in C++? biggrin.png

That's a good one. Even programming languages have their caveats. Those keywords mean different things depending on the context.

 

= assignment, instead of equality, ! and ~ being logical and bitwise not respectively, are discordant with their mathematical counterparts, and so on.

 

I think that the most confusing part is that:
 

I ate until I was satisfied (not after being satisfied, but at least it arrived to satisfaction by inference, closed limit on the set.)

until refers to the predicate's first clause succession of validity

 
 'Until' validates this section
|----------------------------------------|-------------------------------------|
    I ate                                |      No more eating
                                Satisfaction achieved
 

Whilst in this other case with stop doing something:

 

We stop working until our manager says so (work before the event, stop after the event)

 
                                                 'Until' validates this section
|----------------------------------------|-----------------------------------------|
             We work                     |      We stop working
                                Our manager says so
 
Edited by gasto

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We stop working until our manager says so (work before the event, stop after the event)

 

So this is valid english? I had no idea, as a non-native english user, this sentence just confuse me...

Edited by Olof Hedman

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For example:
I ate until I was satisfied (not after being satisfied, but at least it arrived to satisfaction by inference, closed limit on the set.)
I ate before I was satisfied (not arriving at satisfaction, open limit on the set)
She sat until I came back (not after, but up to)
We stop working until our manager says so (work before the event, stop after the event)
He can't accept the invitation until I approve it(before, not up to)
 

 

Refactor the sentence. Until triggers the action (looks like it triggers an opposite).

 

satisfied is the trigger which triggers "stop eating."

"came back" is the trigger which triggers "stop sitting"

manager saying so is the trigger which triggers "start working."

 

So, when you are satisfied you stop eating.

When you come back, they stop sitting.

When the manger says so, you start working. 

Edited by Tutorial Doctor

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Oh, silly English, with its ambiguous meanings and constructs.

 

There is no doubt the worst word in the history of the English language is "should" as in "should have".  I would predict that single word has caused more untold human suffering than any other.

 

'Until' is not a particularly egregious offender.  The fact that it designates neither an open nor a close time interval is generally irrelevant outside of discussions of Xeno's paradox.

 

 

We stop working until our manager says so (work before the event, stop after the event)

He can't accept the invitation until I approve it(before, not up to)

 

 

If we stop working until our manager says so, it means we do not work before the event, then start working (or not, it's a don't-care) after the event.  Your interpretation seems to be the opposite.  If I were to use the word 'until' in a sentence that means what is included in the parentheses, I would write 'We work until our manager says so.'

 

I fail to see any ambiguity in either of the above-quoted sentences.  They indicate a continuity of state during the time before which an event occurred, then the even occurs, then time continues on without anything known about the state.

 

Nope, I just fail to understand the OP's point.

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We stop working until our manager says so (work before the event, stop after the event)

 

So this is valid english? I had no idea, as a non-native english user, this sentence just confuse me...

 

Hahaha, yes it is. That's incredibly confusing isn't it?
Just try and read many of the books regarding linguistics and English, you will be surprised how inconsistent English really is (not that other languages aren't as well.)

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For example:
I ate until I was satisfied (not after being satisfied, but at least it arrived to satisfaction by inference, closed limit on the set.)
I ate before I was satisfied (not arriving at satisfaction, open limit on the set)
She sat until I came back (not after, but up to)
We stop working until our manager says so (work before the event, stop after the event)
He can't accept the invitation until I approve it(before, not up to)
 

 

Refactor the sentence. Until triggers the action (looks like it triggers an opposite).

 

satisfied is the trigger which triggers "stop eating."

"came back" is the trigger which triggers "stop sitting"

manager saying so is the trigger which triggers "start working."

 

So, when you are satisfied you stop eating.

When you come back, they stop sitting.

When the manger says so, you start working. 

 

Wow, that's a brilliant explanation. Kudos to the logic skills.

However, take this for example:

We can't stop working until our manager says so

      'Until' validates this section                                              
|----------------------------------------|-----------------------------------------|
           We can't stop working         |      We stop working
                                Our manager says so

means the same as

 

We stop working until our manager says so

                                              'Until' validates this section
|----------------------------------------|-----------------------------------------|
                 We work                 |              We stop working
                                Our manager says so

Disgruntling, isn't it?

Edited by gasto

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We stop working until our manager says so

'Until' validates this section
|----------------------------------------|-----------------------------------------|
We work | We stop working
Our manager says so

Disgruntling, isn't it?

 

No, that's incorrect.

 

The manager says not to work until he says to work, is what "We stop working until our manager says so" means.

 

|----------------------------------------|-----------------------------------------|
                           We don't work | We work
                             Our manager says so

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So the real question is: does the premise refer to the action or state before the until trigger, or the
event that happen because of the trigger?

 

According to Tom and Tutorial Doctor, it is the former.

Edited by gasto

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We stop working until our manager says so (work before the event, stop after the event)

 

So this is valid english? I had no idea, as a non-native english user, this sentence just confuse me...

 

No, it's not really.  "We stop working..." is simple present tense, and "...until our manager says so." wants a continuous tense instead of a simple one.  But "stop" doesn't work with continuous tenses.  Stopping is defined as something that happens instantaneously.  You can't "keep stopping" for some length of time, which is what continuous tense verbs do.  If you say "keep stopping" it implies that you stopped repeatedly, not continuously.  Whereas "keep going" means continuously, not repeatedly.

 

Various rephrasings in proper English include:

"We don't work until our manager says to start."

"We stop working when our manager says to [stop]."

"We work until our manager says otherwise."

"We stood idle until our manager told us to start working."

Edited by sunandshadow

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We stop working until our manager says so (work before the event, stop after the event)

 

So this is valid english? I had no idea, as a non-native english user, this sentence just confuse me...

 

Hahaha, yes it is. That's incredibly confusing isn't it?
Just try and read many of the books regarding linguistics and English, you will be surprised how inconsistent English really is (not that other languages aren't as well.)

 

Actually it's not valid English... ^_^;

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We stop working until our manager says so (work before the event, stop after the event)

 

So this is valid english? I had no idea, as a non-native english user, this sentence just confuse me...

 

Nope, not valid.

 

"We stop working" (incorrect)

"We have stopped working." (an event that occurred in the past)

"We won't work, until our manager says so." (continual state of not working until event).

"We will refuse to work, until our manager says so." (continued refusal to work until event)

 

Until is precise enough to me. It just depends whether you are talking past-tense, or present/future tense.

 

Your phrases were:

 

I ate until I was satisfied

"I continued eating up to a fixed point" (past-tense)

 

I ate before I was satisfied

<The word 'until' doesn't occur in this sentence>

 

She sat until I came back

"She continued sitting up to a fixed point" (past-tense)

 

We stop working until our manager says so

<Not grammatically correct>

 

He can't accept the invitation until I approve it

"He will continue to be unable to accept the invitation up to a fixed point that hasn't yet occurred and may never occur." (present-tense)

 

 

As a programmer, what annoys me more is the syntax of the English language, and the inconsistencies (not seen in the above situations) of the rules because of the exceptions. Especially certain usage of quotation marks, commas, and other punctuation.

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"until" is sort of like an "if and only if" version of "before". The ongoing state must stop if and only of the condition is met. With "before", the ongoing state can stop if the condition is met, or it can stop earlier:

"We stop working before our manager says so" - Valid
"We stop working until our manager says so" - Not valid

But if you use negation to cause the phrase to become an ongoing state, both are valid:

"We do not stop working before our manager says so" - Valid
"We do not stop working until our manager says so" - Valid


"stop working" is an act which cannot be ongoing, "do not stop working" can be ongoing. "Before" works with momentary acts and ongoing events. "Until" only works with ongoing events. Edited by Nypyren

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The difference between "until" and "before" is that one bears a dependency, both timely and logically whereas the other doesn't. The example further becomes confusing in that particular case since "stop" has a negative logic.

 

"We stop before the manager says so" means "We stop and we give a fuck about what the manager says. Eventually he will (probably) tell us, but we will already have stopped independently".

 

"We stop until the manager says so" means "We wait for the manager to tell us something, which we will consequently do". Except in this particular example, "do" means "not do", so it is nonsensical, since you cannot abstain from doing something and then stop doing it at a later time, not until you continued doing it, which you didn't according to the wording.

 

From a timely perspective, "we stop working" as such is also not entirely correct, if you are pedantic, since this implies that you are stopping at the present time when in fact you are already discussing that you are stopping, which means you have already stopped. Unless of course, you are still working with half force while you discuss, but then it would have to be "we will stop working".

Similarly, "until the manager tells us" should actually be "until the manager will be telling us", since obviously he has not told you, nor is he telling you at the present time.

 

Either way, the incorrect time is "what people are saying", and so it is correct by "what is being spoken is correct".

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Ah, I finally see the potential ambiguity.  I was parsing the sentence fragment we stop working until our manager says so as having until our manager says so as an adverbial phrase modifying the intransitive verb working, with the word stop as a preposition.  The ambiguity comes if the phrase working until our manager says so is parsed as a noun phrase and the object of the transitive verb stop.  The latter use is unidiomatic and I would consider it pretty tortured English.  It is, however, grammatically valid and the meaning of the word until is still unambiguous, in that it refers to continual action that occurs before an event and has the exact same meaning in both cases.

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"stop working" is an act which cannot be ongoing,

 
Actually, "stop working" is an act which can be ongoing. 
 
...

"Stop working until I say work."
 
If I never say work you will not have to work.
But I only stop working once, instantaneously; I can continue not working, but unless I restart working and stop again (another instantaneous event) I am not continuously stopping.

Not working can be continuous. Stopping work cannot be continuous.

Make sense?

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"stop working" is an act which cannot be ongoing,

 

Actually, "stop working" is an act which can be ongoing. 

 

Stop working...

 

Stop breathing...

 

"Stop working until I say work."

 

If I never say work you will not have to work. 

 

No, it can't actually be used that way.  Well, when I say that I'm being a prescriptivist, which is bad.  I should say that I think using "until" in this way would be considered informal, and editors would change it in formal English.

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One of the sticking points here is that the majority of native English speakers aren't that great at the finer points of the language and tend to only have a passing familiarity with what is and isn't actually technically correct.  There are many things you'll hear every day in conversational English that aren't technically valid and might be changed for formal writing or if your language was actually being assessed on correctness.

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Not working can be continuous. Stopping work cannot be continuous.
Unless you are Windows Explorer! smile.png

 

If I do something like change an NTFS attribute on a folder with 10,000 files and eventually run out of patience because it takes minutes (on a SSD!), I'll often finding myself swearing and pressing the "Cancel" button. Sometimes, rarely, I'll find myself punching the monitor, because...

 

... Explorer, will display "Cancelling..." and continue being cancelling (i.e. "stopping") for quite a while. Which, ironically, can take just as long as letting it finish...

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