I joined Quora—a questions-and-answers forum—in August 2013, and after an initial period of resistance, was quickly assimilated. Since then, I’ve answered 1622 questions (and counting), posted 30 of my own, and have accumulated a few views and followers.
It’s an addictive site, and I’ve learned much from many in-depth or insightful answers to interesting questions. But there’s also a lot of dross—a huge number of questions that have been asked and answered before, many banal ones, and quite a number of downright silly ones, which I decided in August 2016 to start collecting.
I’ve been wanting to share this list for some time, but since Quora itself discourages questions about its own content, and prompted by today’s doozy (‘Why do Brits speak English, an American language, rather than speaking some European languages?’) I’m listing them here, because they’re too good not to share. If you want to find them and their answers, just copy-paste them into the Search field at quora.com:
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In the past year or so—at the instigation of my elder son, who pointed out to me that one no longer needs specialist software for this purpose—I’ve been using the built-in capabilities of my Mac computer to dictate a first draft of works that I have been asked to translate.
It isn’t suited to all jobs—works of a highly poetic nature that require due consideration to find suitable English equivalents, or conversely obtuse or convoluted writing that requires close scrutiny just to work out precisely what the author is saying, often cannot be translated so easily on the fly. However, for clear and well-written prose, it works very well, and has doubled my productivity in many cases (far more than traditional CAT—computer-assisted translation—tools).
Of course, this is contingent upon the dictation software being accurate in its “understanding” of one’s speech. Thankfully, the built-in dictation capability within the Mac is remarkably accurate 95% of the time (particularly if one adheres to idiomatic English). However, here and there it makes errors.
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