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Re: precedence for ReplaceAll?

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  • Subject: [mg110781] Re: precedence for ReplaceAll?
  • From: Bill Rowe <readnews at>
  • Date: Mon, 5 Jul 2010 21:15:31 -0400 (EDT)

On 7/5/10 at 6:03 AM, siegman at (AES) wrote:

>Well, just so both Harvard and MIT graduates can do right in the
>future, here's what the dictionary that comes with Mac OS X says:

>USAGE  Fewer versus less:

>Strictly speaking, the rule is that fewer, the comparative form of
>few, is used with words denoting people or countable things (: fewer
>members; |fewer books; | fewer than ten contestants).

>Less, on the other hand, is used with mass nouns, denoting things
>that cannot be counted ( | less money; | less music). In addition,
>less is normally used with numbers ( | less than 10,000) and with
>expressions of measurement or time ( | less than two weeks; | less
>than four miles away).

>But to use less with count nouns, as in | less people or | less
>words, is incorrect in standard English.

I would be willing to bet you could find another reference which
would not make this distinction without a great deal of
difficulty. There are really not that many cases in English
where words have really precise meaning.

>[The rules of correct English are apparently nearly as complex,
>arcane, and inconsistent as those of correct Mathematica.]

I strongly believe the rules for correct English are more arcane
than the rules for Mathematica. But, a large amount of meaning
in English is context which allows useful communication to take
place when strict rules aren't followed. In fact, the lack of
precision in English is what makes it difficult to create
something like Wolfram Alpha and makes Wolfram Alpha so impressive.

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