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Facebook The Courts

How To Write Like Mark Zuckerberg 139

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the read-between-the-suspension-points dept.
newguy77 found a story talking about the results of a linguistics expert being brought in on the Facebook ownership case. They claim the emails are faked since Zuckerberg uses apostrophes correctly and opens sentences more casually than the damning emails.
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How To Write Like Mark Zuckerberg

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  • by corbettw (214229) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `wttebroc'> on Monday June 06, 2011 @11:42AM (#36350956) Journal

    So all those years of being a grammar nazi can result in actual gainful employment? Who knew?

    Also:

    They claim the emails are faked since he uses Apostrophes correctly

    But did he use Capitalization correctly?

    • Well you now know that CmdrTaco will never be able to pass himself off as Zuckerberg since he was the one who added that sentence.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TheLink (130905)
      In the US they only care about market capitalization.
    • Perhaps they are referring to Frank Zappa's album called "Apostrophes (')"?

      • It's more likely they are referring to the Frank Zappa album "Apostrophe (')", since he never made an album called "Apostrophes (')". ;p
        • Yeah I caught it after I posted :p I type too quickly for my own good sometimes. I really should use the Preview more often.

      • Isn't Apostrophes the great philosopher of the ancient island Gramatica?

      • Perhaps they are referring to Frank Zappa's album called "Apostrophes (')"?

        "Apostrophes" was the Greek scholar of Grammar.

        In addition, a Thesaurus was a small dinosaur that used flowery language to extricate itself from dangerous situations. (Dennis Miller)

    • by istartedi (132515)

      Obviously you've never been to Apostrophes. It's in Greece. You should go. You can get great rates because of the debt crisis, and the weather is perfect this time of year. The best way to use Apostophes is as a getaway from Turkey, which is still chilly this time of year and makes you sleepy after you eat. BTW, Apostrophes used to be the Capital until they lost a war with neighboring city-state Athens in ancient times. Apparently ancient history and geography aren't being taught either.

  • It's easy to learn to use apostrophes correctly, and find out that charm works better than being stiff.

    I will admit, in general, it shouldn't change with all those points in just a few years, but it's hardly 'proof'... Just a likelihood. Certainly not enough to throw the case all on its own.

    • ...and find out that charm works better than being stiff.

      Ron Jeremy begs to differ.

    • by gl4ss (559668)
      yeah, I could write "proper" english quite well, but most of the time i wouldn't bother, however if I was writing something serious, like a blog posting that I knew would get printed on paper media and attributed to me as a writing then I might put in the effort to write in that style, style is also all about who will be doing the reading, I don't think Zuckerberg bothers maintaining specific style to every letter - and if it's a business dealing then it's quite usual to switch to a wholly different approac
    • Re:Styles change. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Gaygirlie (1657131) <gaygirlie.hotmail@com> on Monday June 06, 2011 @12:27PM (#36351650) Homepage

      I will admit, in general, it shouldn't change with all those points in just a few years

      The whole point is that the linguistics experts compared the alleged fake emails to proven-real emails _from the same time_, not to his current ones.

      Atleast I find it very much unlikely that Zuckerberg would've somehow unlearned how to use apostrophes, capitalization and ellipsis correctly every time he contacted the other person, but again picked up on the correct grammar every time he was communicating with other people.

      • I find it very much unlikely that Zuckerberg would've somehow unlearned how to use apostrophes, capitalization and ellipsis correctly every time he contacted the other person, but again picked up on the correct grammar every time he was communicating with other people.

        I see five possibilities:

        1. The emails are fabricated and Ceglia's claims are false.
        2. The emails are fabricated and Ceglia's claims are true in substance. (E.g., the emails were fabricated to bolster a weak but legitimate case.)
        3. The emails are
        • The emails are not fabricated and Zuckerberg used a different linguistic style by accident. (E.g., personal style can shift depending on audience [do you cuss in front of your parents?] or technology [do you use shorthand when texting?].)

          Interesting dilemma, yes, but atleast the quoted part seems highly unlikely. After all, they are comparing e-mails to e-mails, and even those are all between business partners. If Zuckerberg had struck a deal that he is claimed to have struck that would also make it business-related discussion. There is no reason for Zuckerberg to try to shorten his messages or leave out commas in this case; after all, all the e-mails were most likely written on a full desktop computer with a complete keyboard. I also got t

      • I was actually rooting for that scum bag businessman Ceglia. Whatever, I still hate Zuckerbergs guts. Hes a big asshole that doesn't deserve his position in life. He came from money, had opportunities handed to him, acts like an asshole with his "Im CEO Bitch" business cards, isn't even as intelligent as that shitty movie makes him out to be, and stole the idea for his website from some other Harvard assholes. Hes as bad as those dickheads at Zynga that steal everyone's ideas and charge people for imaginary
  • Can I still blame Facebook and other social media sites for the gradual acceptance of butchered English? Since Zuckerberg doesn't seem like he goes around shortening 'cause' to 'cuz', leaving 'I' as 'i' and neglecting punctuation wherever possible; can I still put part of the blame on him when it becomes proper 'english' to open a formal letter with 'sup', and close it with 'holla back'?
    • The blame probably goes much further back to something like IRC. Although that probably attracted a more intelligent crowd - perhaps blame AOL. Usually a safe move.

      • by jd (1658)

        AOL wishes to plead innocence through reason of insanity.

      • The blame probably goes much further back to something like IRC.

        Back farther: To pre-internet "chat" and conferencing programs on timesharing computers. And further to Morse code radio telegraphy. (Wired telegraph didn't promote shortening words because it was billed by the word - but didn't send punctuation marks, either.)

        My take:

        On one hand some stuff (like limited size text messaging on twitter and SMS with latter's typically rotten keypad interface) promotes extreme abbreviation, rebus-style phonetic

  • The writing style of people never changes between 20 and 35. Its totally constant and als always the same regardless with whom they communicate.

    • Try reading the article, the comparison documents were taken from the same period as the questionable document.

      Slashdot commenters aren't even trying these days...

      • by Artifakt (700173)

        And while we're at it, there are ways a person's writing style might change and ways it simply never will.

        I just deliberately shifted to a more casual mode, by using the opening phrase "And while we're at it", as though I was standing physically next to 'Richard_at_work' and just adding my two cents without much reflection, immediately after he had finished. As part of giving my post that slightly more casual flavor, I used the contraction "we're". I might have been more formal

      • by hey! (33014)

        Still, I'd want to see evidence establishing that this technique is reliable before giving much credence to such expert testimony. For all we know people who are committing fraud commit more punctuation mistakes, or write more formally. If you can't show that this methodology has support in the peer reviewed literature, it's just amateur forensic speculation.

        • Linguistical analysis has a long history in courts the world over - and like any other expert witness, it boils down to who has the more credible witness.

          But the technique has been well established as reliable enough to produce acceptable testimony in court.

    • by Svartalf (2997)

      And I'm needing chest-waders for all this BS and bad "science".

    • Good thing that the linguist was comparing against emails from the same period of time, no?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The writing style of people never changes between 20 and 35. Its totally constant and als always the same regardless with whom they communicate.

      A fact which should haunt you.

  • Now that Zuck has a good 12 billion to his name, he is really desperately trying to bury this skeleton in his closet by throwing money at it. Come on, we've all been 17 and unemployed at one time, and would sign just about any piece of paper that would promise us better work than bagging groceries. Sure Ceglia is a grade A scumbag, but so is Zuck, and he deserves to have a stupid mistake like this come back and bite him in the ass now that his ass is actually worth something.
  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Monday June 06, 2011 @12:13PM (#36351432)

    Off-topic and pointless maybe, but I use them a lot in my own writing. I remember a handful of esoteric grammatical tips from way back in high school that I've found really help out with bringing the context of conversation to the written word. I'm no grammar god, but it's disappointing to see how much knowledge of the intricacies of our written language is being lost in the era of LOLs and ZOMGs. I'm a casual reader of the classics, and it's amazing how pervasive beautiful writing was even at the lowest tiers of education; e.g. Civil War-era letters from soldiers to their loved ones (lol).

    • by sodul (833177)

      I would assume that the lowest tiers were not even able to read, so the soldiers you mention might have been the equivalent of upper middle class nowadays. See Literacy in North America [wikipedia.org]: "In 1870, 20 percent of the entire adult population was illiterate, and 80 percent of the black population was illiterate".

      • Great, so you've shown that 80% of the population in 1870 was literate. The upper middle class and rich (commonly defined as having household incomes greater than $100,000) are about 15% of the population today. Since you are assuming some sort of socioeconomic structure equivalence, that means we can assume that roughly 65% of the literate adults in the U.S. in 1870 would not be the equivalent of "upper middle class" or above. Chances are that many of those 65% wrote letters in the Civil War.

        Also, many

        • Neither of them had more than a 6th-grade education (common for that generation) and were hardly upper middle class. They wrote significantly better than the college students whose essays I have graded at fairly elite institutions. They also both had very legible handwriting, which would today be expected of only calligraphers.

          That's indeed something I've been wondering about, too, at times. It seems that for some reason the value we in modern societies place on grammar skills and functional writing has declined sharpy, even though we still need those skills. In past times phones were not as widespread and available to everyone, yet alone cell phones which provide you communication capabilities on-the-go, and more importantly you had to make certain that when the other party receives your message they'll understand it, every word

    • Language changes. I have no doubt there will be people 200-400 years from now that will read our English and rant and rave about how awesome it is. Maybe they will appreciate its more informal and rational formatting, or maybe they will be writing in mathematical language. I can't even read Shakespeare without having to sit and think on every page for about an hour, maybe they will have the same problem and mistake it for "beauty".
      • I can't even read Shakespeare without having to sit and think on every page for about an hour

        Cheer up. The medium is the problem.

        The primary reason you cannot read Shakespeare is because Shakespeare himself never intended for you to try and read his work like a novel. And I believe most (all?) of his sonnets were intended for private consumption, with a specific individual in mind for whom those words would easily land.

        Shakespeare created plays, which would entail dialogue that would be interpreted by a professional actors under the direction of someone who understood the material, probably Shake

        • I can't even read Shakespeare without having to sit and think on every page for about an hour

          Cheer up. The medium is the problem.

          Umm, no. You do make a good point: I've certainly been to performances of Shakespeare where many obscure words and idioms were made reasonably clear through good acting.

          But that isn't the main problem. Try reading the script from a Broadway musical of the past few decades; you may not get all the nuance immediately, but it is a lot easier to comprehend than Shakespeare.

          The problem is that most people who aren't scholars of Early Modern English (including the vast majority of actors) think that they ca

    • I'm a casual reader of the classics. . .

      To what do you refer to as classics, and do you recommend any in particular?

      • I don't mean exclusively the ancients if that's what you're wondering. Pretty much anything over 50 years back. Google for the 100 greatest novels; an audio collection from about 15 years ago. I'm in the 70s after about 15 years. My favorite by far is Moby-Dick. That might be because I feel like I understand it almost completely. My other favorites so far:

        * Les Miserable
        * The Grapes of Wrath
        * Anna Karenina
        * War and Peace
        * A Tale of Two Cities

        I'm a slow reader though, so 4-5 a year is the best I can ma

    • by s2v16 (2169120)

      I'm a casual reader of the classics, and it's amazing how pervasive beautiful writing was even at the lowest tiers of education; e.g. Civil War-era letters from soldiers to their loved ones (lol).

      Wouldn't a dash or a parenthesis be more appropriate than a semi-colon in this sentence?

      • I'm a casual reader of the classics, and it's amazing how pervasive beautiful writing was even at the lowest tiers of education; e.g. Civil War-era letters from soldiers to their loved ones (lol).

        Wouldn't a dash or a parenthesis be more appropriate than a semi-colon in this sentence?

        Indeed. A comma would be the most common choice. It seems odd to nitpick punctuation in a post highlighting the power of punctuation. Nevertheless, a semicolon is most often used to connect two independent clauses that lack a conjunction. There are few other less-common uses for semicolons these days, but this sentence doesn't really fit any of them. To introduce an example or set of examples (as in the sentence in question), one would generally use a colon or dash. However, since the example is prece

  • do they compare the emails in question to Ceglia's writing style?
  • 1. steal idea
    2. hack up code
    3. lawyer up
    4. profit!

    our work is done

  • Pre-Investment Zuckerberg: j00 sux0r! 4ll ur B4ss R b3long 2 Z!

    "On October 24, 2007, Microsoft announced that it had purchased a 1.6% share of Facebook for $240 million, giving Facebook a total implied value of around $15 billion." - Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

    Post-Investment Zuckerberg: I, Mr. Zuckerberg, am sorry to inform you that you are inadequate for consideration. Hence force, I will purchase all of your base. To wit I declare, "For great justice."

  • is the apostrophe [dweezilzappaworld.com]

  • American Standard Sociopath.
  • Who woulda thunk a Harvard student would have no problems keeping track of where apostrophes go. I can't imagine proper use of the English language was something that he only recently developed...
    • Who woulda thunk a Harvard dropout would have no problems keeping track of where apostrophes go. I can't imagine proper use of the English language was something that he only recently developed...

      There, fixed that for you.

  • Similar in technique to this: http://iwl.me/ [iwl.me] - give it a few paragraphs of your own writing and you'll get a comparison to some famous person or other.
  • He has a better version of office than he had back then.
  • You like this http://tinyurl.com/4yn3fuq [tinyurl.com]

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