Saturday, January 14, 2012

Away with dangling modifiers!

(make sure to increase video quality)

At 1:15: "By putting pressure on the White stone, White is required to respond...".

Surely the speaker did not mean that the White put pressure on its own stone. The correct sentence must be: "Because of Black's move putting pressure on the White stone...", or "By putting pressure on the White stone, Black forces White to respond", or simply "Because of the pressure on the White stone, White is required to respond". (Note that saying " is required to respond" is an example of a similar problem: pronoun–antecedent ambiguity. Grammatically, it is not clear what it refers to: the pressure, the stone, or, perhaps, the White.)

In my experience, this is one of the most common and annoying problems in modern colloquial English. It is worse than saying "please e-mail my wife and I" or misusing the apostrophe-s. In the latter cases, the meaning is clear. Dangling modifier (or pronoun–antecedent ambiguity) damages the clarity of meaning very badly.

Otherwise, despite having slightly annoying English, I liked the video. (Nice stones too.)

The "play right — first, play left" skill that the speaker mentions is a Go technique, in which, when a player wants to play "right" (for example), he first sets up reinforcements on the "left" usually by playing a series of forcing moves (for instance, invasion or capture threats) to which the opponent has to respond locally. Thus, the player does not really care about the "left". He is playing there because having stones there will provide support for his operation on the "right". (Of course, the nature of the forcing moves is such that if the opponent did not respond to them, they would be continued into an even more damaging sequence.)

In the video above, before playing a pincer from the top on the white stone (on left side of the board), the Black first prepares a wall of his stone below the white stone (at about 2:24). Now re-watch the video and try to see what I am talking about.

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