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Formal Question to Steering Council (re recent PEP8 changes)

On Thu, Jul 2, 2020 at 7:05 PM Michael Torrie <torriem at> wrote:
> On 7/2/20 4:46 PM, Random832 wrote:
> > It's possible that this wasn't explained clearly enough in the commit
> > message itself (though I would argue it was definitely adequately
> > explained in the ensuing on-list discussion, and wonder how much of
> > that discussion you've actually read), but the point is that the
> > *whole idea* of "standard English" is tied to white supremacy, not
> > any particular standard whether via its authors or otherwise.
> Good to know.  Nothing at all was explained in the commit message
> justifying that particular sentence, leaving one unfamiliar with the
> background to wonder what she was referring to.
> I definitely agree the words "standard English" are pretty meaningless
> to would-be python developers anyway and the new phrase in the PEP 8 is
> much better.
> --

Given that I have had plenteen (sic) years of education all in the English
language including some instructors trained in the UK and also some
periods of technical education in at least one language other than English
and am quite familiar with the said "Stunk and White - -  *The Elements*
* of Style*" perhaps I could offer some background.

Especially in an upper class year academic education Strunk and White is
quite usually inflicted upon at least all Arts and Humanities kind of
students. They advocate for short pithy sentences, including IIRC a
statement something to the effect of a sentence with more than 5 words
is too long. There are many other amorphisms most of which point out
that such a writing style is perhaps the easiest to understand. As far as
that goes their position is somewhat correct but I have come to very much
differ with their quite heavy handed technique. When one is writing about
very complex topics it is useful to be able to craft complex sentences but
then said authors seemed to think that everything was reducible to a
quite elementary level - - - I have not found that to be true.

A little closer to the intent of the question.
In good documentation reasonable sentences make it much easier to
understand a previously unknown topic or idea. So in that way asking
for writers to at least be aware of if not slavishly follow some so called
'standard of style'. Strunk and White and Kate Turabian have both
published works that are quite accepted in the Arts and the Humanities
as I did not do any graduate training in the Sciences I do not know
what the recommended manuals are in such but in reading plenty
of papers most of the authors would be quite assisted in writing to be
understood rather than to impress.

So I can understand a desire to suggest the usage of a 'Manual of
Style' but I would not be comfortable if it were a requirement.
Languages other than English have different strengths and their
users, when faced with writing documentation in a language that,
even though they are quite comfortable with English, they are not
used to producing what may be possible by a writer who is fully
cognisant with the most rigorous aspects of style, may enhance
said documentation even if said documentation is not 'perfectly
correct in style'. (The previous sentence is an example of what is
possible using complex sentence structure - - - grin!)

I decry the present hypersensitivity to any hint of culture that was
present some 200 years ago especially when such sensitivity is used
to block a wider group from participating. IMO such hypersensitive
individuals might be better served by finding some other soap box
to scream from if that is to be their primary input into a particular