I believe the answer is "yes."
In an interesting twist on (what I think was your own
argument), allowing missuse of the English language does not
help the people for whom it is not their first language. In
addition, allowing abuse of grammar rules in cases that don't
matter as much is not a good idea for those people that don't
understand why they don't matter as much in those cases.
Also, there are better examples of where the use of the
wrong choice is more noticeably incorrect.
The style manual is correct, and it makes sense for the
RFC Editor to encourage correctness, hence the RFC editor is
at least not incorrect in pointing this out.
Behalf Of Eric Rescorla
Sent: Monday, February 11, 2008 4:12 PM
To: Ray Pelletier
Cc: ietf; IAOC; Fred Baker; Adrian Farrel
Subject: Re: [IAOC] RFC Editor costs - Proofreading (was Re:
Myview of theIAOC Meeting Selection Guidelines)
At Mon, 11 Feb 2008 15:54:09 -0500,
Ray Pelletier wrote:
Eric Rescorla wrote:
At Mon, 11 Feb 2008 19:16:57 -0000,
Adrian Farrel wrote:
In converting what is now RFC 1716 to RFC 1812, which was a HUGE
editing task, I used a brand new tool that is now a
checker. It complained about "which" vs "that", which
is neither here
Well, not quite. "That" is for defining relative
clauses, and "which"
for non-defining relative clauses.
An interesting fact is that the RFC Editor process is
particularly hot on
"that"/"which". This may be a function of the use of
since these folk tend to care about English usage and for
them (and for me)
it *is* much more than "neither here nor there". It could
even have an
impact on meaning in an RFC.
This kind of grammar theead usually ends in tears.
That said, the CMS is pretty wishy-washy on this:
A distinction has traditionally been made between the relative
pronouns which and that, the latter having been long regarded
as introducing a restrictive clause and the former, a
one. Although the distinction is often disregarded in contemporary
writing, the careful writer and editor should bear in mind
indifference may result in misreading or uncertainty, as in the
The report which Marshall had tried to suppress was greeted with
Which of the following is meant:
The report, which Marshall had tried to suppress, was greated
The report that Marshally had tried to suppress was greeted
When the commas intended to set off a nonrestrictive lcause are
ommitted, perhaps with the purpose of using which restrictively,
the reader may well wonder whether the omission was inadvertant.
Some uncertainty will persist.
The MLA handbook is even less prescriptive:
"Note that some writers prefer to use which to introduce
norestrictive clauses and that to introduce restrictive
Given that the distinction between which and that is not
universally observed and that our documents are intended
to be consumed in part by those who are not native
English speakers, ISTM that any case where the distinction
between which and that is important to meaning would benefit
from some rephrasing for increased clarity.
Perhaps the RFC Editor Style Manual
offer some insight here:
* "which" and "that" should follow the rules:
o "which" is non-restrictive and is used parenthetically. It
follows a comma and provides non-essential information.
"The XYZ Protocol, which is proprietary, may
to session hijacking"
o "that" is restrictive and introduces information that is
essential to the meaning of the sentence. Example:
"A protocol that is less robust may be more
Yeah, but the question at hand is whether the RFC Editor *should*
be enforcing this style.
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