D L X
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A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 1:34 am

The apostrophe -- like a comma in the sky. When in doubt, leave it out!

Yet the English written language has been trampled in the last few years on both sides of the pond by people who have taken to pluralizing everything by adding apostrophe-ess on the end (like this: car's). I know, it's an easy mistake to make, and one that I've caught myself on more than once. But it must be stopped, or correct written style will be lost for good as more and more people begin to believe that it is actually correct. It's one thing to mispell a word, or make a typo. Big deal. It's another thing to mistake "its" for "it's". The first one means "possessed by it" while the second one means "it is", but again, big deal. But I've recently seen people even using apostrophe-ess just because the word ended with an ess, such as writing "len's". Who is len? Len is nobody. The person meant to say "lens" -- that glass thing on the end of your camera. I think internet message boards like this one are chiefly to blame for the proliferation of apostrophe-ess abuse.

Put simply, apostrophe-ess is only used for possession and contractions of "is". It is not used for pluralization unless pluralizing a number or acronym. ("ABC's" and "123's", but not "letter's" and "number's".)

I personally think this should be one of our top priorities for the English-speaking world:

1) World peace
2) cure for cancer and AIDS (not AID'S!!)
3) find a more environmentally friendly energy source
4) rid the world of apostrophe-ess abuse.
5) BCS playoff

Before you say it, yes, I know this is a silly rant that will probably do nothing. But I'm in a ranting mood.
 
Klaus
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 1:43 am

Quoting D L X (Thread starter):
I think internet message boards like this one are chiefly to blame for the proliferation of apostrophe-ess abuse.

Not really... They only expose the fact that most people know little about and have no interest in their own written language.

And it's by no means limited to the english language - you can see any number of apostrophe catastrophies in Germany as well. And the poor thing is ruthlessly abused in a few more languages beyond, I suspect...!
 
D L X
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 1:48 am

Quoting Klaus (Reply 1):
And it's by no means limited to the english language - you can see any number of apostrophe catastrophies in Germany as well.

Didn't know that, because English is the only language that I speak or write that uses apostrophes. (No apostrophes in Japanese!)

Also, I should say that if English is not your main language, this post wasn't aimed at you.
 
baroque
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:03 am

Sympathies. However, spelling worries me more than floating and illegal apostrophes. There are not too many cases where an incorrect apostrophe changes the meaning, whereas quite a few spelling errors do send you off in the wrong direction. My Email system (Pegasus) has a strange habit with apostrophes when saving files to disk so I try to avoid using them to reduce the number of strange symbols appearing in the archived material. The latest versions try to foil me by adding them to contractions such as don't.
 
MEA-707
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:19 am

I am not a native speaker but I see things which hurt my eyes a lot on Airliners.net lately, is it Airtrans future or Airtran's future. I'd say Airtrans, it is not Airtran is future but the His future, Airtrans.
The same rant about "Northwest retiring there 747-200s"
I wonder why me as non native speaker immeditately see it should be "their" but apparent native speakers don't???
nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?
 
MaidensGator
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:32 am

Quoting MEA-707 (Reply 4):
is it Airtrans future or Airtran's future. I'd say Airtrans, it is not Airtran is future but the His future, Airtrans.

You'd be wrong.... It is Airtran's future.... (possessive as to future)... But to confuse you, it is Qantas' future....
The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.
 
kaitak
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 3:40 am

I agree; it is something that bugs me; people should be careful how they express themselves. It says something about them; bad use of grammar conveys a laziness which in fairness may not always be the case (you'll find engineers, mathematicians, doctors etc with poor grammar and spelling), but it's so much easier to get it right.

The one thing I sometimes have difficulty with is the possessive where the word ends in an "s" - for example, Qantas' new fleet, or the Andrews' new car etc.

I know that "Qantas' " sounds better, but is it necessarily correct?
 
UAL747
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 3:50 am

The only thing I really hate is when someone uses, "it's" for posession, and "its" for "it is." I realize that this can kind of be ironic that posessive form of "its" does not use an apostrophe when using the word "it" because we tend to use apostrophes to show posession.

It's (It is). "It's my duty to tell you how to use an apostrophe."

Its (posessive). "Its engine came off the pylon during flight."

Or this: "There are many Boeing 777's."

Rather it is supposed to be, "There are many Boeing 777s"

(Though admittedly, I'm guilty of using the ( ' ) when referring to plural aircraft).

UAL

Oh, PS:

Never end a phrase with a preposition.

Example of Incorrect: "Where are you at?"

Example of Correct: "Where are you?"
"Bangkok Tower, United 890 Heavy. Bangkok Tower, United 890 Heavy.....Okay, fine, we'll just turn 190 and Visual Our Way
 
D L X
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 3:55 am

Quoting Kaitak (Reply 6):
The one thing I sometimes have difficulty with is the possessive where the word ends in an "s" - for example, Qantas' new fleet, or the Andrews' new car etc.

I know that "Qantas' " sounds better, but is it necessarily correct?

Both are correct in a similar way that both "color" and "colour" are correct:

Qantas' or Qantas's are both okay and Louis' and Louis's are both correct. I prefer to leave the ending ess out though, and since my name ends with an ess, that's what I do daily.
 
D L X
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 4:03 am

Quoting UAL747 (Reply 7):
Or this: "There are many Boeing 777's."

Rather it is supposed to be, "There are many Boeing 777s"

Both of those are acceptable too, 777s vs. 777's. One is Chicago Style, and the other is Times Style.

Quoting UAL747 (Reply 7):
Never end a phrase with a preposition.

I think that's a silly rule.

"This is the sort of English up with which I will not put" -- Winston Churchill.
 
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n229nw
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 4:23 am

The one that slightly annoys me is people using "I" when they should use "me"--it annoys me because they do it to sound "correct"/pretentious, but don't realize it is actually wrong:

e.g. "This is a picture of my dog and I" (It's a picture of ME, not a picture of I, hence it's a picture of my dog and ME, etc.). Or "Just between you and I" (should be "me," object of the preposition between) It's funniest when people actually mix subjective and objective case with two prepositions: "him and I" etc. Yuck.

Edit: Meh, I just realized I went and wasted my 1000th post being a grammar nazi...

[Edited 2007-08-13 21:28:46]
All Glory to the Hypnotoad!
 
steve6666
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 4:25 am

Quoting D L X (Reply 9):
Both of those are acceptable too, 777s vs. 777's

They mean absolutely different things.

Apostrophe = possessive NOT plural.

777s = lots of 777s

777's = belonging to a 777
eu nasci ha dez mil anos atras, e nao tem nada nesse mundo que eu nao saiba demais
 
D L X
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 4:42 am

Quoting Steve6666 (Reply 11):
They mean absolutely different things.

Apostrophe = possessive NOT plural.

777s = lots of 777s

777's = belonging to a 777

Perhaps in England, and I wish the rule in America were standardized. But unfortunately, there are many newspapers which accept both 777s and 777's to mean "more than one 777", in ADDITION to "777's" meaning "of the 777". That exception only applies to numbers and acronyms though (thankfully!!), and NEVER to any other form of pluralization.

I'm with you though.
 
UAL747
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 4:44 am

English grammar is one of the hardest out there I think. There are SOOO many exceptions to the rule that most people who speak English, never really know how. I'm always guilty of one grammar mistake or another. Because native speakers never really study English as intently as foreigners do, often times people who know English as a second language will understand our grammar much more than the native speaker. And, don't forget colloquialisms. The south, where I am from, is well known for its colloquialisms.

Alrighty y'all, I'm fixin' to get some supper. I'll catch y'all later. Though I might be goin' to N'awlins at the end of the week. Even though I've been travellin' for a long time, I feel like I've been rode hard and put away wet. Myyyy Laaands! (Double syllables for single syllable words where applicable)  Smile

UAL
"Bangkok Tower, United 890 Heavy. Bangkok Tower, United 890 Heavy.....Okay, fine, we'll just turn 190 and Visual Our Way
 
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Braybuddy
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 4:54 am

I agree completely. Apostrophe's should alway's be used in the correct place's. And, as you say, you have any doubt's, it's alway's better to leave them out.
 
Fly747
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 4:56 am

The apostrophe doesn't bother me that much. What gets me is when people here say "would of" instead of "would have".

Ivan
 
CastleIsland
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 5:12 am

Quoting N229NW (Reply 10):
Edit: Meh, I just realized I went and wasted my 1000th post being a grammar nazi...

When you should have wasted it posting something silly like this:

"People don't do what they believe in, they just do what's most convenient, then they repent." - Dylan
 
Klaus
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:07 am

Quoting D L X (Reply 2):
Didn't know that, because English is the only language that I speak or write that uses apostrophes. (No apostrophes in Japanese!)

They have their rightful place in german as well... unfortunately most people have no clue where that is - and the horrible misuse of anglicisms in german is one of the main sources of the ubiquitous apostrophe catastrophe...

Quoting D L X (Reply 2):
Also, I should say that if English is not your main language, this post wasn't aimed at you.

As a member of this forum it's just as fingernails-on-blackboard to me as it would be for most native speakers. Although the inevitable would of and there/their/they're is right up there with it...!  yuck 

Quoting UAL747 (Reply 13):
English grammar is one of the hardest out there I think.

Not really.
 
D L X
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:38 am

Quoting UAL747 (Reply 13):
English grammar is one of the hardest out there I think.

No excuses if it's the only language you know.  Wink

Besides, this is more about spelling and punctuation, not grammar.
 
N231YE
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:46 am

Interesting, that nobody has mentioned plural possessive. This is so rarely, yet incorrectly done, even A.net's spell checker marks it as wrong!

Singular Possessive: This is my plant's garden.
Plural Possessive: This is my plants' garden.
 
comorin
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 8:40 am

THANK YOU for starting this thread. Nothing bothers me more than this- sometimes I just feel like giving up and joining the crowd.

Another HORRIBLE custom in the UK is to refer to companies in the plural - "British Airways are a decent airline" - this twisted usage of English is about to hop the Atlantic...

Times Online is running its Style and Usage Guide these days and it's worth reading:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/too...and_services/specials/style_guide/
 
Dougloid
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 8:55 am

Think that's bad?

Here's a little item I pass out to my students. It came out about a year ago. I put it under the heading of "What's a comma worth these days?"

Comma quirk irks Rogers
GRANT ROBERTSON

From Monday's Globe and Mail

It could be the most costly piece of punctuation in Canada.

A grammatical blunder may force Rogers Communications Inc. to pay an extra $2.13-million to use utility poles in the Maritimes after the placement of a comma in a contract permitted the deal's cancellation.

The controversial comma sent lawyers and telecommunications regulators scrambling for their English textbooks in a bitter 18-month dispute that serves as an expensive reminder of the importance of punctuation.

Rogers thought it had a five-year deal with Aliant Inc. to string Rogers' cable lines across thousands of utility poles in the Maritimes for an annual fee of $9.60 per pole. But early last year, Rogers was informed that the contract was being cancelled and the rates were going up. Impossible, Rogers thought, since its contract was iron-clad until the spring of 2007 and could potentially be renewed for another five years.



Armed with the rules of grammar and punctuation, Aliant disagreed. The construction of a single sentence in the 14-page contract allowed the entire deal to be scrapped with only one-year's notice, the company argued.
Language buffs take note — Page 7 of the contract states: The agreement “shall continue in force for a period of five years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.”

Rogers' intent in 2002 was to lock into a long-term deal of at least five years. But when regulators with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) parsed the wording, they reached another conclusion.

The validity of the contract and the millions of dollars at stake all came down to one point — the second comma in the sentence.

Had it not been there, the right to cancel wouldn't have applied to the first five years of the contract and Rogers would be protected from the higher rates it now faces.

“Based on the rules of punctuation,” the comma in question “allows for the termination of the [contract] at any time, without cause, upon one-year's written notice,” the regulator said.

Rogers was dumbfounded. The company said it never would have signed a contract to use roughly 91,000 utility poles that could be cancelled on such short notice. Its lawyers tried in vain to argue the intent of the deal trumped the significance of a comma. “This is clearly not what the parties intended,” Rogers said in a letter to the CRTC.

But the CRTC disagreed. And the consequences are significant.

The contract would have shielded Rogers from rate increases that will see its costs jump as high as $28.05 per pole. Instead, the company will likely end up paying about $2.13-million more than expected, based on rough calculations.

Despite the victory, Aliant won't reap the bulk of the proceeds. The poles are mostly owned by Fredericton-based utility NB Power, which contracted out the administration of the business to Aliant at the time the contract was signed.

Neither Rogers nor Aliant could be reached for comment on the ruling. In one of several letters to the CRTC, Aliant called the matter “a basic rule of punctuation,” taking a swipe at Rogers' assertion that the comma could be ignored.

“This is a classic case of where the placement of a comma has great importance,” Aliant said.
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
D L X
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 9:23 am

Quoting Dougloid (Reply 21):
The controversial comma sent lawyers and telecommunications regulators scrambling for their English textbooks in a bitter 18-month dispute that serves as an expensive reminder of the importance of punctuation.

Actually, I think that case is a load of bull -- the question in contract is never "what exactly did it say" so much as it is "what exactly did the parties expect it to mean." (FWIW, I think Rogers is 100% correct.)

In any event, if you're talking about something that sends regulators to textbooks to find an esoteric rule, it's not nearly as important as getting the apostrophe right, since you use it every day.

I'm heartened though, because it hasn't appeared incorrect one time on this thread, except for the person that was clearly intending to misuse it to show his point.
 
fumanchewd
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 9:33 am

Language is a constantly changing entity. The first "dictionaries" weren't dictionaries but in fact spelling guides. In the English language there were many accepted ways to spell one word and grammar was non existent. For that matter punctuation was non existent as well. The only thing that really mattered was transmitting and communicating information. The Greeks and other societies wrote their philologies using various systems of punctuation to assist oration. When English printing initiated in the 15th century William Caxton used punctuation marks to make the light and illegible print easier to read. He used the "/" for word groupings, the ":" for pauses, and the "." for ending sentences and brief pauses. His idea worked for some and was ignored by some. It wasn't until the 17th century that some sort of punctuation dogma came into being. That said, this dogma has always been changing. Whether because of cultural, governmental, or scholastic changes, the rules of grammar have never been the same and never will stay stagnant.

I took a university class in linguistics a few years back and we spent several weeks reviewing the assiduous changes that have been happening to all languages since the beginning of time. We noted how most have their conservative backers grabbing onto the rules and semantics that they were taught. They refuse to be dragged with the times and instead stay in place with the disappearing past. The same could be said for grammar.

i have always enjoyed the image of jack kerouac hunched over his typewriter with page after page taped together just pounding out word after word in a mad dash of hope and ideas a poetry of thought with no punctuation or form just a splaying of ideas communicating ideas

That being said, I have no idea why people are so intent on preserving the so called "sanctity" of language and grammar. It has its place. Bad grammar at work is unacceptable. As for the rest I could care less. Maybe if people spent as much time thinking about what they are saying instead of their image then their words might be worth reading-good grammar or not.
In the time of chimpanzees, I was a monkey...
 
allstarflyer
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 9:47 am

Quoting D L X (Reply 2):
Didn't know that, because English is the only language that I speak or write that uses apostrophes.

Doesn't Russian use apostrophes?

Quoting D L X (Reply 9):
Quoting UAL747 (Reply 7):
Never end a phrase with a preposition.

I think that's a silly rule.

Even with that Churchill quote (which seems to be tongue-in-cheek), it's lazy, at best, to end a sentence with a preposition. I've done it, though, even recently, though I still try to find ways to bring the preposition to a point earlier in the sentence, or, if I must, restructure the sentence in a sensible way so that the grammatical usage is accurate.

Quoting N229NW (Reply 10):
The one that slightly annoys me is people using "I" when they should use "me"--it annoys me because they do it to sound "correct"/pretentious, but don't realize it is actually wrong:

Same here - I don't like it when people say things like "me and my brother", instead of "my brother and I", etc.

Quoting Dougloid (Reply 21):

That's an amazing story.
Living the American Dream
 
D L X
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 10:46 am

Quoting Fumanchewd (Reply 23):
That being said, I have no idea why people are so intent on preserving the so called "sanctity" of language and grammar. It has its place. Bad grammar at work is unacceptable. As for the rest I could care less. Maybe if people spent as much time thinking about what they are saying instead of their image then their words might be worth reading-good grammar or not.

I'm not talking about grammar. I'm talking about punctuation, and using correct written English. When you misuse apostrophes, you are actually signalling the wrong word.

Quoting Allstarflyer (Reply 24):
Doesn't Russian use apostrophes?

Have no idea. I neither speak nor write Russian.

Quoting Allstarflyer (Reply 24):
it's lazy, at best, to end a sentence with a preposition.

When written, I usually agree, although the Winston Churchill example is a good example of how ridiculous the reworking is for some sentences. I really couldn't care less if you speak with trailing prepositions, as long as it's clear what you're geting at.  Wink But again, that's a grammar rule, not a punctuation issue.
 
waterpolodan
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 10:59 am

Quoting D L X (Thread starter):
Who is len? Len is nobody.

My friend Len read this and ran away weeping.
 
fumanchewd
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 11:33 am

Quoting D L X (Reply 25):
I'm not talking about grammar. I'm talking about punctuation, and using correct written English. When you misuse apostrophes, you are actually signalling the wrong word.

Case in point. The apostrophe that you used before the word "and" is technically correct. However, a majority of modern writers no longer use this rule which, for the most part, has been abandoned by the average writer 50 years ago. So much so, that I was taught not to use the comma in that manner. Many grammatical resources actually discourage the use of

Quoting D L X (Reply 25):
I'm talking about punctuation, and using correct written English.

because it is superfluous. They state that commas at the end of a serial statement are not necessary and should not be used at all unless there are three seperate items.


My point is that grammar and language change usually through mistakes being made by a majority. There are hundreds of examples of this that have happened in the last one hundred years alone. While a very few still use the comma it in a serial statement with less than two items, you might as well be pointing out that you get pissed when people don't use a comma as you have before "and". Someone started misusing the comma in this way in the not so distant past and it has become the accepted rule.

As a lawyer, however, I can understand why this bugs you so much.

The Texas Law Review Manual on Usage and Style, considered highly authoritative in legal circles, insists on the use of serial commas, as do a number of other reputable style manuals. The Lawyer’s Book of Rules for Effective Legal Writing, by Thomas R. Haggard, says "The serial comma is essential in legal writing because it promotes clarity" (17)

http://www.getitwriteonline.com/archive/021201.htm

As a bibliophile, linguaphile, and a lover of history, I understand that grammar is nothing more than a malleable ball of dough. Many of the rules and grammar that we use now were once mistakes that were yelled about by "guardians" of conservative grammar. For all we know in another 50 years people won't even use apostrophes.
In the time of chimpanzees, I was a monkey...
 
fumanchewd
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 11:45 am

Quoting D L X (Reply 25):
I'm not talking about grammar. I'm talking about punctuation,



Quoting D L X (Reply 25):
But again, that's a grammar rule, not a punctuation issue.

They are one in the same.
In the time of chimpanzees, I was a monkey...
 
levent
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 12:11 pm

Quoting D L X (Reply 22):
Actually, I think that case is a load of bull -- the question in contract is never "what exactly did it say" so much as it is "what exactly did the parties expect it to mean." (FWIW, I think Rogers is 100% correct.)

That is a fantastic example of how important it can be to write text in a correct way. It's not a load of bull at all - a contract is a contract and it says what it says. In this case, the presence of the second comma in the sentence made it clear that the contract could be terminated within the first five years as well.

As someone said before in this thread, I think one of the main issues here is that native speakers sometimes tend to be a bit sloppy with the use of their own language, while non-native speakers will do extra their best to speak and write a language as good and correct as possible. Personally I saw this when learning to speak and write Dutch in primary school. My Dutch classmates were always making mistakes which in my eyes were very silly (in Dutch the main issue seems to be the d and t at the end of a verb). As a Turk, I always got the highest grades in spelling tests. Now, I can see with my own wife, who is English, that she has the same problems with spelling and grammar as described above.

Having said this, language is an evolving thing, just like anything else, and it is more than likely that what is considered incorrect use of apostrophes now will be accepted use of language in the near future.
 
UAL747
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 12:15 pm

Quoting D L X (Reply 18):
No excuses if it's the only language you know.  

Honey, I know 3 languages and can read 5 with moderate to excellent fluency. 6, if you count the language of Luuuv.

UAL
"Bangkok Tower, United 890 Heavy. Bangkok Tower, United 890 Heavy.....Okay, fine, we'll just turn 190 and Visual Our Way
 
halls120
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 12:32 pm

Quoting D L X (Reply 25):
Quoting Fumanchewd (Reply 23):That being said, I have no idea why people are so intent on preserving the so called "sanctity" of language and grammar. It has its place. Bad grammar at work is unacceptable. As for the rest I could care less. Maybe if people spent as much time thinking about what they are saying instead of their image then their words might be worth reading-good grammar or not.
I'm not talking about grammar. I'm talking about punctuation, and using correct written English. When you misuse apostrophes, you are actually signalling the wrong word.

With all due respect, I expect arguments like this at work, not on Anet.  vomit 

What's next, arguments on which English dictionary is the definitive last word for usage and definition?  grumpy 
"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." Mark Twain, a Biography
 
andz
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 12:54 pm

It's about time someone raised this issue. Apostrophe abuse is a national disease here and it irritates the hell out of me, especially when I see it on "professional" signwritten work such as billboards or vehicles.

Good point about the "me vs I", I remember hearing a valuable guide about this when I was at school: eliminate the other person and what would the sentence be? It has stuck with me ever since (and been the subject of many arguments!)
After Monday and Tuesday even the calendar says WTF...
 
D L X
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 1:39 pm

Quoting Fumanchewd (Reply 27):
The apostrophe that you used before the word "and" is technically correct.

What apostrophe?

Quoting Fumanchewd (Reply 27):
My point is that grammar and language change usually through mistakes being made by a majority.

This isn't grammar.

Quoting Fumanchewd (Reply 28):
They are one in the same.

 no 
Grammar is the structure of the language. Apostrophe abuse means you have misspelled the word.

Quoting Levent (Reply 29):
That is a fantastic example of how important it can be to write text in a correct way. It's not a load of bull at all - a contract is a contract and it says what it says.

Take a semester of law school contracts, and you'll learn that is absolutely false.

Quoting Halls120 (Reply 31):
With all due respect, I expect arguments like this at work, not on Anet.

I see a lot more abuse of apostrophes on A.net than I do at work.
 
baroque
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:20 pm

Quoting MEA-707 (Reply 4):
I wonder why me as non native speaker immediately see it should be "their" but apparent native speakers don't???

Beets me to (or is that two) why their not seeing the errors.  Smile I wonder how many stuff ups it is possible to get in one line and still be understood.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 17):
As a member of this forum it's just as fingernails-on-blackboard to me as it would be for most native speakers. Although the inevitable would of and there/their/they're is right up there with it...!

I suspect that ESL netters are divided into groups by the native speakers at least into:
1. Group 1 - read and learn from their use of language.
2. Group 2 - well many native speakers might say that.
3. Group 3 - I wonder how I could manage even that well in their native language.
I am not going to tell you which group you fall into Klaus, but it ain't 3.

Quoting D L X (Reply 18):

No excuses if it's the only language you know.

Quite, or should that be quiet?
 
AeroWesty
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 3:35 pm

Quoting Halls120 (Reply 31):
With all due respect, I expect arguments like this at work, not on Anet.   

It's perfectly appropriate to talk about on A.net, or anywhere else on the internet. A friend of mine is a colleague of Barbara Wallraff, and he and I talk and post about words, usage, spelling, etc., all the time. A.net could do with something more intelligent than "what brand of dishwasher detergent do you use?"

Our last discussion was concerning where to place a period in a sentence when you end it with a quotation--either inside or outside the closing quotation mark. We found that according to several different style guides, there is no definitive rule. You write it how you want to write it, as long as you're consistent, and we decided to write it the Eleanor Roosevelt way, inside the quotation mark.
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fumanchewd
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 4:53 pm

Quoting D L X (Reply 33):
What apostrophe?

You are right, I meant comma. If you are intelligent and had read the following sentences you would have figured that out. Digging for semantics?

Quoting D L X (Reply 33):
Quoting Fumanchewd (Reply 27):
My point is that grammar and language change usually through mistakes being made by a majority.

This isn't grammar.



Quoting D L X (Reply 33):
Quoting Fumanchewd (Reply 28):
They are one in the same.


Grammar is the structure of the language. Apostrophe abuse means you have misspelled the word.

Source? Grammar is the structure of language. I am not the one being the linguistic nazi here. The structure of language includes punctuation. This is simple stuff. I can provide evidence if need be, as it is in the dictionary under grammar.

Quoting D L X (Reply 33):
Quoting Fumanchewd (Reply 27):
My point is that grammar and language change usually through mistakes being made by a majority.

This isn't grammar.

Yes it is. Language, grammar, and punctuation are all constantly changing.


There are one of two options here for your postition.

1. You believe that somehow (magically, I suppose), grammar has only be in an entropic state recently. I can ascertain this from your unsubstantiated statement that

Quoting D L X (Thread starter):
Yet the English written language has been trampled in the last few years on both sides of the pond by people

blah blah blah blah.

So, we have only had people with questionable writing skills in the last two years?  Yeah sure Every language has been in the state of metamorphosis. Get over your ego.

BTW, any comment on your ancient comma usage?

2. Populations have always had people with bad grammar (yes, that includes punctuation silly) and somehow you have become annoyed by them in recent years.

Seeing that language is always changing and that in the last one thousand years literacy has been assiduously rising, it is obvious that your assertion of #1 is BS. Perhaps you have "moved up" in your business and somehow perceive the vulgar people below you as increasing in recent years. The fact is that there have always been illiterate, "vulgar", and "uneducated" persons (as you would call it) who do not conform to the currently accepted rules of grammar. To people with historical knowledge (and not tied to elitist notions of newly acquired jobs) this has not changed. Things are as they always have been.

#2 is correct.
In the time of chimpanzees, I was a monkey...
 
fumanchewd
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 5:05 pm

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 35):
It's perfectly appropriate to talk about on A.net, or anywhere else on the internet. A friend of mine is a colleague of Barbara Wallraff, and he and I talk and post about words, usage, spelling, etc., all the time. A.net could do with something more intelligent than "what brand of dishwasher detergent do you use?"

I agree, yet there is a severe rank of elitism that is permeating from DLX's posts. If we were to have an intelligent discussion on language, great. I would love to have this. But when someone states

Quoting D L X (Thread starter):
Yet the English written language has been trampled in the last few years on both sides of the pond by people who have taken to pluralizing everything by adding apostrophe-ess on the end (like this: car's). I know, it's an easy mistake to make, and one that I've caught myself on more than once. But it must be stopped, or correct written style will be lost for good as more and more people begin to believe that it is actually correct. It's one thing to mispell a word, or make a typo. Big deal. It's another thing to mistake "its" for "it's".

it smacks of ego with no knowlege of linguistic history. If he were to state that his opinions were in the business world, I would agree.

But to complain about the general state of grammar and punctuation in the world wide English language is silly and pompous.
In the time of chimpanzees, I was a monkey...
 
Banco
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:29 pm

Quoting Fumanchewd (Reply 37):
it smacks of ego with no knowlege of linguistic history. If he were to state that his opinions were in the business world, I would agree.

But to complain about the general state of grammar and punctuation in the world wide English language is silly and pompous.

Quite correct. English has no equivalent of the Academie Francaise, and so "correct" English is merely that which is in generally agreed use at any particular time. It changes, and I've mentioned before that the use of an apostrophe to signify a plural was in fact fairly common just over a century ago. The oft-derided greengrocer's sign offering orange's and banana's would have been perfectly reasonable back then.

The only requirement for English as a global language is clarity. That is where the importance of the apostrophe - and other grammatical tools - comes in. It makes it clear whether the writer is referring to a possessive, a plural or an abbreviated word. And that's it. There is no absolute requirement for grammatical purity beyond the insane ramblings of a few obsessives, and quite simply who the hell are they to tell others what to do? No-one appointed them, no-one gave them the authority to tell others what to do. Many English "rules" were artificially imposed Latin rules grafted on to a Germanic language. It's linguistic insanity to try to follow them - and the best example is, and always has been the simply stupid instruction that you can't split an infinitive. The beauty of English is that you can split it, where in most languages you can't, because the verb is a single word. The ending a sentence with a preposition is another example, you don't do it in Latin so the assumption is you shouldn't do it in English. Well, quite frankly they can bog off. My language is English, and if it works I shall do it, and no tweedy tosser who thinks he's important because he read Eats, Shoots and Leaves is going to tell me any different.

It's notable that the closest thing we have to a true guardian of the language, the Oxford English Dictionary, is not remotely presecriptive. They monitor changes in the language, they don't tell people how to speak it. And that's the greatest thing about it anyway, that an American and a Briton, an Indian and an Australian can all speak the same language, have slightly different rules and it matters not a jot to the degree of mutual understanding.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
David L
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 7:38 pm

Quoting D L X (Reply 22):
In any event, if you're talking about something that sends regulators to textbooks to find an esoteric rule, it's not nearly as important as getting the apostrophe right, since you use it every day.

Generally speaking, I think incorrect use of apostrophes can be deduced by context. On the other hand, misuse of commas can lead to ambiguity, as witnessed in Dougloid's example.

Quoting Banco (Reply 38):
And that's the greatest thing about it anyway, that an American and a Briton, an Indian and an Australian can all speak the same language, have slightly different rules and it matters not a jot to the degree of mutual understanding.

I agree in principle but I have to say I'm slightly concerned by the sudden popularity of "text speak". A couple of friends of mine are college lecturers and they now have to accept a lot of this new lingo when marking reports and exams... or fail half the class. This means they're effectively obliged to relearn the language. I'm not sure allowing such dramatic change over a relatively short period by just the younger generation is such a good idea.

Quoting UAL747 (Reply 7):
Never end a phrase with a preposition.

Then we'd lose such classics as "What did you bring that book I don't like being read to out of up for?"  Smile
 
Banco
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 7:52 pm

Quoting David L (Reply 39):
I agree in principle but I have to say I'm slightly concerned by the sudden popularity of "text speak". A couple of friends of mine are college lecturers and they now have to accept a lot of this new lingo when marking reports and exams... or fail half the class. This means they're effectively obliged to relearn the language. I'm not sure allowing such dramatic change over a relatively short period by just the younger generation is such a good idea.

Personally, I'd fail the class. The very point about comprehensibility is where using text-style English fails the requirements for written English. If those marking the papers are wondering what the hell it all means, then the candidate is doing a piss-poor job of getting his ideas across. Thus, a big fat U should go on it.

But you can't stop it. You can adopt a Canute like approach if you wish (though the poor lad does get a bad press, given that he waqs demonstrating the limits of his power, not the unlimited nature of it) but it simply won't work. Having said that, there's no reason to think it's a permanent feature of the language yet, any more than Pepys' labour saving code of the seventeenth century was.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
cornish
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 8:04 pm

Quoting Banco (Reply 40):
Personally, I'd fail the class. The very point about comprehensibility is where using text-style English fails the requirements for written English. If those marking the papers are wondering what the hell it all means, then the candidate is doing a piss-poor job of getting his ideas across. Thus, a big fat U should go on it.

I agree. If the students can't write an exam paper or essay without using text speak, then fail them. They wouldn't be able to use it at university and certainly not in business. A few poor marks would give them the incentive not to use it if they really cared about getting qualifications.
Just when I thought I could see light at the end of the tunnel, it was some B*****d with a torch bringing me more work
 
halls120
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 8:37 pm

Quoting D L X (Reply 33):
Quoting Halls120 (Reply 31):
With all due respect, I expect arguments like this at work, not on Anet.

I see a lot more abuse of apostrophes on A.net than I do at work.

So do I. But I come to Anet for entertainment and relaxation, not to continue debates from work.  biggrin 

BTW, at my office the battle is over commas, not apostrophes. We've actually had to physically separate lawyers who got a tad bit too overwrought during a comma debate.

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 35):
Quoting Halls120 (Reply 31):
With all due respect, I expect arguments like this at work, not on Anet. ??


It's perfectly appropriate to talk about on A.net, or anywhere else on the internet. A friend of mine is a colleague of Barbara Wallraff, and he and I talk and post about words, usage, spelling, etc., all the time. A.net could do with something more intelligent than "what brand of dishwasher detergent do you use?"

I suppose you might be right. There is a frame shop near my home that has a horribly improper apostrophe in their sign. Every time I drive by I want to stop and go in and scream at the owner for being such an illiterate fool.
"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." Mark Twain, a Biography
 
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scbriml
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 8:54 pm

Quoting UAL747 (Reply 7):
Never end a phrase with a preposition.

Example of Incorrect: "Where are you at?"

Example of Correct: "Where are you?"

Reminds me of a joke I heard a comedian of colour tell once. The first brother to be admitted to Yale is wandering around the campus and he meets a very white student. The brother asks "Yo dude, where is the library at?" The shocked VWS replies snootily "Here at Yale, we never end a sentence with a preposition!" to which the brother replies "Oh, I see. OK then, can you tell me where the library is at, mother fucker?"
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana!
 
D L X
Topic Author
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 9:11 pm

Quoting Fumanchewd (Reply 36):
Digging for semantics?

You'd think that on a thread that discusses writing accuracy that one would check for accuracy.  Wink

Quoting Fumanchewd (Reply 36):
Grammar is the structure of the language. Apostrophe abuse means you have misspelled the word.

Source?

Any dictionary.

Quoting Fumanchewd (Reply 36):
The structure of language includes punctuation.

NOT on your life. I'm going to say go fish on this one. Please find me a definition of grammar somewhere that even includes the words "spelling" or "punctuation."

Quoting Fumanchewd (Reply 36):
BTW, any comment on your ancient comma usage?

You even said yourself that it is correct usage.

"I'm selling orange's for two dollar's" is not. Do you disagree?

Quoting Fumanchewd (Reply 37):
I agree, yet there is a severe rank of elitism that is permeating from DLX's posts.

Because I want people to stop abusing a well recognized rule of spelling and punctuation? It's people like you who say it's okay that cause the language to collapse into a rules-free free-for-all.

What I'm hearing is that you don't want to agree that I'm right (even though you do believe I am right) because it's "elitist" to be right.  Yeah sure

Quoting Fumanchewd (Reply 37):
it smacks of ego with no knowlege of linguistic history.

Riiight... you do know what linguistic means right? (Linguistic -- from the latin Linga, meaning the tongue or speech. This is not about spoken language dude. This isn't linguistics. Just like it isn't grammar.)

Quoting Banco (Reply 40):
Personally, I'd fail the class.

HUH? Wouldn't that make you an elitist for imposing your view of proper grammar on the class?

Quoting Halls120 (Reply 42):
I want to stop and go in and scream at the owner for being such an illiterate fool.

Bite your tongue! You don't want Fumanchewd and Banco to call you arrogant, do you?  Yeah sure
 
Banco
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 9:25 pm

Quoting D L X (Reply 44):
HUH? Wouldn't that make you an elitist for imposing your view of proper grammar on the class?

I agree it's a fine line, but the key question of importance is whether the students' work is comprehensible or not. There's a difference between picking people up for (to take the examples above) using a preposition at the end of a sentence or splitting an infinitive, both of which are utterly irrelevant in terms of how English is structured, and finding it difficult to understand what is being written. My personal view is that this is the only stricture by which grammar should be judged - can the average person easily comprehend it. if so, fine, leave it. If not, that's a problem. And it's always where the moveable feast of current language use comes in. Grammar changes just as much as the rest of the tongue does, which is why you cannot be over precious about it, and you must adapt.

Now, there may come a time when text-speak is considered perfectly acceptable by most people in written work, but right now that is not the case. Thus, it is "incorrect" in written English. Again, correct grammar is that which is in general usage at a given time.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
David L
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 10:02 pm

Quoting Banco (Reply 40):
Personally, I'd fail the class

That's exactly what they'd like to do but they can't - it's rife. No students = no funding = no class = no job.  Sad

Quoting Banco (Reply 40):
But you can't stop it.

Nipping it in the bud is probably the only way. It seems (and this is only my guess) that it must be acceptable in some schools, otherwise it wouldn't have spread to colleges.

Anyway, I didn't say it should be stopped, just that I don't think it's "a good idea".  Smile
 
mt99
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 10:09 pm

I have seen it used in a name. I kid you not.
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Banco
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 10:49 pm

Quoting Mt99 (Reply 47):
I have seen it used in a name. I kid you not.

Really? Next you'll be telling me all those OBriens, ONeills, OShaughnessys and OConnors put them in there!  Wink

It's more common than you might think, not just Irish names either.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
cornish
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RE: A Plea For The Correct Use Of The Apostrophe

Tue Aug 14, 2007 11:06 pm

Quoting Banco (Reply 48):
Next you'll be telling me all those OBriens, ONeills, OShaughnessys and OConnors put them in there!

Not to mention all those OClocks, ODears, OReallys and OBuggers  Wink
Just when I thought I could see light at the end of the tunnel, it was some B*****d with a torch bringing me more work

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