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Thread: Spellin' and gramma

  1. Default Spellin' and gramma

    Following from the Porter Airlines off-topic discussion, air your spelling, grammar, and communication pet peeves here. We haven't had this discussion for a little while...

    I've noticed that while the level of discussion here is far above the average for internet forums, there are still a few common mistakes - even from some of the better writers.

    1) The one I keep noticing recently - sometimes it seems to come up in almost every thread - is the mistaken use of an apostrophe in the possessive pronoun "its". (For many people, this is not a confusion with the contraction of "it is" = "it's", but a confusion with the possessive apostrophe.) While English uses an apostrophe to mark possession (e.g., the dog's tail), possessive pronouns (ours, yours, theirs, hers, its) do not use an apostrophe.
    The dog's tail was wagging.
    The dog wagged its tail.


  2. #2
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    ... and frequently the tail wags the dog.

  3. #3

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    Mine is the use of "there is" to describe a group of things, instead of "there are". For example "There is buildings". Even more annoying "There's buildings".

  4. #4

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    Non-Canadian spellings are a big peeve of mine.

  5. #5

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    Why? Non-Canadians are people too.

    BuildTO, I thought your position was that we shouldn't discriminate against language styles/dialects/accents as long as the message gets across. Shouldn't that apply to spelling and grammar too? Why should we care if someone uses 'there' instead of 'their' as long as we understand them?

  6. Default

    Big side discussion solely for ganjavih here...

    When Linguists refer to "language", they are referring exclusively to spoken language. It is speech which is natural and unavoidable (i.e., you cannot stop a child from acquiring language; the human brain is hard-wired to produce it) - and spontaneous. Thus, all of the principles I referred to are relevant to speech.

    Writing systems are another matter entirely. They are the opposite: unnatural and invented phenomena. If your language does not have a writing system, you need to borrow, steal, or invent one. This is why, while all spoken language is equal in complexity, all writing systems are far from equal. They range in complexity from Spanish using the roman alphabet, in which there is almost a 1:1 correspondence between letter and sound, to English using the same alphabet but with far from a 1:1 relationship (26 letters and more than 40 sounds) to the Chinese system of symbols in which a person is not considered literate until perhaps 20 years of age.

    Once Spanish children know the alphabet and the sounds associated with the letters, they can read anything, even if they can't understand it; it will just take time to increase vocabulary and learn what the bigger words mean. But children learning to read/write English have to keep learning exceptions to rules and the different spellings that come with the history of the language and writing system, which reflect that English has embraced borrowings from every language it has come into contact with.

    So writing systems are completely rule-governed. We need to follow those rules for the most part, to maintain a semblance of order in a writing system such as English. If you've seen that joke that gets passed around through email every so often, proposing that the English spelling system be simplified, it's amusing but in all seriousness a bad suggestion. It would lead to all kinds of confusion resulting from the many homonyms English has that are disambiguated by spelling.

    Taking an example from my talk: the use of "ain't" in speech is in no way inferior to the use of "isn't". This is a dialect difference. But as an analogy: the misspelling of "its" in print is not an indication of dialect, community, or any other social factors. It is either an indication of sloppiness or a lack of knowledge of the rules of one's own writing system.

    These days, there are many areas in which you can avoid writing, and many people do avoid it. Unfortunately, unlike speaking, which we all do from an early age, writing is something some have a special talent for (some people really are naturally good spellers). We do acknowledge that in some situations (e.g., resums and job applications), a single mistake can be disastrous. In other places, such as on this forum, a more casual level of writing is accepted, but owing to the higher-than-average level of discourse, you won't get the warmest reception if u rite like a 15 yr uld talkin to frenz on a cell phone.

    This whole thread (and these regular discussions) are not chastising those who really have genuine trouble communicating. They are good-natured, but bring up spelling/grammatical points which the vast majority here seem to be capable of actually learning - if they don't know - and incorporating into their writing.

    Addendum:
    In speech, nonverbal cues (tone, intonation, facial expression, body language, to name a few) help to clarify meaning. Writing, without the aid of any of those, is very easily misunderstood. That is why spelling and grammar are critical in helping to disambiguate.

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Darkstar416 View Post
    Non-Canadian spellings are a big peeve of mine.
    Can I go off topic in the grammar thread? My current pet peeve is watching the home shows on HGTV and hearing Americans pronounce "foyer" so that it rhymes with "lawyer". If you wanted to torture me, you could tie me up and make me listen to that for hours.



    Resume grammar discussion...

  8. #8

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    Staying on that topic for a sec, I also hate when some Canadian newscasts say "anti" the American way. They pronounce it "antie" when it should be "antee."

  9. #9

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    "I hope the Raptors don't loose tonight". This drives me absolutely nuts and spelling it with the extra o is almost more common than spelling it the right way. It's spelled LOSE!! At least one poster on this very thread is guilty of this...

    A few spoken ones I notice a lot:
    "acrost"
    "supposably"
    "Interact" (as in debit)
    "If I hadda gone to the store"

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MisterF View Post
    "I hope the Raptors don't loose tonight". This drives me absolutely nuts ..."
    i hope the girlfriend don't loose tonight.
    member since april 23 1847. over 250 539 posts in morse on ticker tape, 368 067 by mail and 40 033 over the internet. 75 posts sent by pigeon & 25 by dog but only 12 arrived.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darkstar416 View Post
    Non-Canadian spellings are a big peeve of mine.
    well color me guilty!
    member since april 23 1847. over 250 539 posts in morse on ticker tape, 368 067 by mail and 40 033 over the internet. 75 posts sent by pigeon & 25 by dog but only 12 arrived.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by BuildTO View Post
    Following from the Porter Airlines off-topic discussion, air your spelling, grammar, and communication pet peeves here. We haven't had this discussion for a little while...

    I've noticed that while the level of discussion here is far above the average for internet forums, there are still a few common mistakes - even from some of the better writers.

    1) The one I keep noticing recently - sometimes it seems to come up in almost every thread - is the mistaken use of an apostrophe in the possessive pronoun "its". (For many people, this is not a confusion with the contraction of "it is" = "it's", but a confusion with the possessive apostrophe.) While English uses an apostrophe to mark possession (e.g., the dog's tail), possessive pronouns (ours, yours, theirs, hers, its) do not use an apostrophe.
    The dog's tail was wagging.
    The dog wagged its tail.
    who let the dogs out!
    member since april 23 1847. over 250 539 posts in morse on ticker tape, 368 067 by mail and 40 033 over the internet. 75 posts sent by pigeon & 25 by dog but only 12 arrived.

  13. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MisterF View Post
    "I hope the Raptors don't loose tonight". This drives me absolutely nuts and spelling it with the extra o is almost more common than spelling it the right way. It's spelled LOSE!!
    I was waiting to see what else people would post, but that was going to be my next one.

    lose = verb
    loose = adjective

  14. #14

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MisterF View Post
    "I hope the Raptors don't loose tonight".
    Your problem is that you should be hoping the Raptors WIN tonight. If you are just hoping they don't loose, well, you've already loosed. Think positive.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by BuildTO View Post
    I was waiting to see what else people would post, but that was going to be my next one.

    lose = verb
    loose = adjective
    I'm going to lose my shoe because the laces are loose!

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