Friday, August 07, 2015


Comprehensive, very vast but not exhaustive


This is a utilitarian book and it is supposed to contain everything on the subject. You are advised though to compare with what is available in your particular field of research. There are many particularities that are also ideologically or politically motivated and cannot be taken into account in this extremely comprehensive book.

For example: dating the past. It is obvious from any logical point of view that dating is feasible if a starting point is clearly defined. Unluckily archaeologists have decided to take the carbon readings as the proper way to date a very distant past event and they invented BP, Before Present, which is meaningless since everyday changes the reference and the dating of today will be ridiculous in fifty years. Some of these dating techniques can date with a very narrow fuzzy zone like more or less just a few years.

It is obvious their practice is dictated by their dating technology but it is time-wise false. But it is also politically determined. They do not want to use the BCE classic dating system, Before the Christian Era, and they have not thought of BPE, Before Present Era, that would erase the Christian reference, but they do not want that one either because the Buddhists, the Muslims and some others still have their own starting points. Don’t expect to find a solution in this book.

Even worse. Historians of prehistoric events, that is to say more generally events that took place before 0 BCE, are dated in a very strange way as soon as the dating is a fork between two dates. Some historians consider it illogical to speak of an event that went from 564 to 325 BCE and they use the increasing arithmetic order which goes against historical time and look at events before 0 BCE as if they went backward. Once again practices are not unified in this field and you cannot expect this book to answer such a question which is a dilemma. Personally I consider dating has to follow any timeline that goes from left to right in many writing system but can go from right to left in the writing system that are thus oriented, and on a time line 10,000 BCE is closer to the starting point of the writing porientation concerned than 5,000 BCE and the period between is 10,000-5,000 BCE. But that is not the norm. Some persist to write about a prehistoric event that is dated 5,000-10,000 BCE.

Practicing the reading of a lot of research literature in at times very technical fields like medicine, pharmacy, chemistry and clinical trials for a few examples, I can tell you norms are far from being generalized in many domains. And I will not speak of linguistics where according to the school of reference at stake in a document you will have to respect different layout and presentation norms which at times are very surprising.

In the same way you must be clear that in spite of a reference to the MLA Style sheet, many publishers and universities or other research institutions have their own local rules. You better check them before by reading one or two articles by these entities.

Apart from that this book is essential for most of the questions you will encounter in your research writing.


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