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A statement. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
A statement.

I am unalterably and vehemently opposed to actual plagiarism. 


My standards for what constitutes plagiarism are quite traditional ones.  I do try to warn, generally, that I will be plundering the corpus of English literature, and certain favourite authors in particular, whilst writing this inherently derivative genre of fan-fiction.


The notion, however, that amongst persons of good will and reasonable cultivation, it is necessary to footnote each occurrence of a quotation from or paraphrase of Shakespeare, Browne, Burton, Archbishop Cranmer, GKC, Kipling, Bunyan, Milton, or Sayers, is, simply, utter and absolute balls.  The idea that one is obligated to reference any self-evident and easily recognisable paraphrase of Iles, Innes, Christie, Crispin, Sam Johnson, Ben Jonson, various Mitfords, divers Waughs, and Hymns Ancient & Modern, is the sort of thing Waugh and Crispin and Innes, specifically, mocked in their own, notably un-footnoted, works: partly deriving the mockery from their own experience of dealing with the absurd, footnote-scribbling standards of their North American editors for their North American editions.


Anyone capable of recognising my sly and winking tributes to Anthony Price or Barbara Pym, Monty Python or Tyndale’s Psalter, damned well wants to be sophisticated enough to realise I am not passing these periphrastic passages, paraphrased paragraphs, and clever quotations off as mine own.  Anyone else can, with respect, sod off.


A little discriminating judgement, if you please: employ it, I implore you.  Plagiarism exists; it is wrongful; it is also eminently recognisable, and easily distinguished from other things, to conflate which with plagiarism serves only to render the latter less reprehended and more respectable.  In short, please to cease crying, ‘Wolf!’, when there is no wolf.  By doing so, we can all better recognise and respond to situations where an actual wolf makes its way into the fold, probably by wearing sheep’s clothing (footnote, bloody Æsop, you wankers).  Thank you.

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(Deleted comment)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 27th, 2006 12:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank YOU.

Most kind.
From: tree_and_leaf Date: August 19th, 2006 10:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Footnoting everything also spoils much of the fun with obscurer allusions, I feel.

Personally, I think much of the problem springs from the confusion of a (vaguely understood) notion of coyright infringement with plagiarism. But it is amusing to imagine Miss Sayers, for one, being told by her editor that she had to footnote everything.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 27th, 2006 12:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

That would have been worth watching, yes.

And yes, precisely: it takes the fun out of the game.
shezan From: shezan Date: August 20th, 2006 12:13 am (UTC) (Link)
As usual, you fill my flist readong with simple joy.

If you enjoy creative insults and sarcastic footnoting, may I direct you to the more heated exchanges of this post, for instance here and here? I am beginning to actively enjoy zapping imbeciles.
shezan From: shezan Date: August 20th, 2006 12:13 am (UTC) (Link)
"reading", even, Bernard.
(Deleted comment)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 27th, 2006 12:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank YOU.

My apologies for not having done so earlier, I managed to get myself injured at the time.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: August 20th, 2006 01:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Where were all you educated kiddies when my company commander had me escorted to the psychiatrist for muttering threats while slicing cold cuts for the battalion picnic?

All I said was, "Who'd have thought the old man could have had so much blood in him?"

The rump-fed runyon.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 27th, 2006 12:29 pm (UTC) (Link)


Officer's mess, perhaps?

See: the Scottish play IS unlucky.
(Deleted comment)
shezan From: shezan Date: August 20th, 2006 07:37 am (UTC) (Link)
WWell, we realised, I think, that there had been an amount of brainwashing head-pummelling basic public instruction going on there; but wouldn't the aim of what I hardly dare call a liberal education be to encourage, after a time, the growth of a critical mind? Haven't the poor darlings ever noticed that no book outside manuels and theses - including, I'm sure, quite a bit of the required reading in their curricula - actually practices MLA citation (thank the Maker)? And considering that the main demographic of the more vocal in the latest brouhaha tends more towards middle-aged matrons than teen-agers, haven't they managed to learn something about the complexities of Real Life™? There seems to be a complete inability to grasp the concept of distance here. It's all binary, zero or one, black or white. All very well for a laptop, not so much in a human being (or indeed in a writer.)

I can see how it might seem difficult for a prof to first get the whole academic plagiarism notion across, and then, waving an airy hand, letting fall words to the effect that all this was a completely stringent rule, er, except when not. But don't your students ever notice what's in the stuff they're given to read?

(Deleted comment)
From: tree_and_leaf Date: August 20th, 2006 01:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
This has occured to me as well, actually. And despite what Shezan says below, it is the case that most 'student editions', such as the World's Classics, or Penguine Classics (which probably make up the bulk, if not all, of the stuff on literature reading courses) are quite heavily footnoted, including pointing out possible sources, etc).

Of course, those are (a) editorial and (b) not done because of concerns about plagiarism, but I suppose, if you haven't thought very hard about it... There's also the matter of song lyrics, which are aggressively protected by studios, to the point that Pratchett's publishers apparently felt it neccessary to make a copyright acknowledgement for about five words from 'you are my sunshine' in 'A Hat Full of Sky' though, fortunately, this rather silly note was confined to the copyright information page. It seems particularly daft with a writer like TP, whose writing style is heavily allusive anyway. (See, for example, the riff on Chekov in 'The Fifth Elephant', which no-one in their right minds would call plagiaristic, but current fandom mores would probably howl for an acknowledgement).
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: August 21st, 2006 12:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think there is a distinct difference between 'I have quoted several lines from the canon of English literature, which my intelligent and educated readers will recognise', and '75% of my funny one-liners are lifted from Blackadder and Buffy'/'I lifted substantial portions of text word-for-word from an obscure YA novel and gave some vague waffle about being inspired and that I'd forgotten the author in the notes'. But saying that you have to footnote everything up to the Bible and Shakespear is rather silly.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 27th, 2006 12:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, well said.

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