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Somebody suggested that we start a thread for grammar fiends, spelling hounds, latinists and other pedants. So let's split the infinitive and take the Fowler* express to the land of the semicolon.

*Those from outside this Septic Isle** may not be aware of Fowler's English Usage: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fowlers-Modern-English-Usage-Re-Revised/dp/0198610211

**See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Sceptred_Isle

PS: When I wrote the OP, I'd forgotten that another Fowler was a railway engineer. A double meaning without even realising that I was doing it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Fowler_(engineer)

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Great idea,

I saw on the BBC news today  that the man who launched the Apostrophe Protection Society - an attempt to stem the tide of ignorance about where and when to use this piece of punctuation - has given up, finding himself overwhelmed by the tide. Such is the world in which we live.

A pity. I hate the misuse of apostrophe’s

:cheeky:

Edited by Shyheels
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The great George Bernard Shaw wanted to abolish the apostrophe. Although you can construct sentences where it matters, in most cases the sense is clear if you omit them completely.

Catastrophe? Apostrophe!

In the meantime, Ill carry on using the little blighter's correctly. [sic]

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Mind you, no matter how punctilious one might be about the use of apostrophes, auto correct loves to insert them at every opportunity, thereby promoting and perpetuating ignorance

Edited by Shyheels

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A couple of pet hates.

1: There/their/they're

The last has that pesky apostrophe too.

2: I would of done it. Instead of I would have done it.

I found it really hard to type the first version. It grates whenever I see it. I can see why it's done, when you say it out loud it often sounds like "would of" and it could quite correctly be written would've. This may be a lost cause. Languages evolve and this could well become the standard usage over time. Ugh.

An example of usage that I've more or less accepted is "media" as a signular noun. The correct singular "medium" has detached itself from the plural. Though not as far as "datum" and "data" which are effectively divorced with different meanings.

Edited by at9
Typo corrected
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2 hours ago, at9 said:

A couple of pet hates.

1: There/their/they're

The last has that pesky apostrophe too.

2: I would of done it. Instead of I would have done it.

I found it really hard to type the first version. It grates whenever I see it. I can see why it's done, when you say it out loud it often sounds like "would of" and it could quite correctly be written would've. This may be a lost cause. Languages evolve and this could well become the standard usage over time. Ugh.

It is not a lost cause.  There is another good one that often accompanies the second mistake.  I was talking to a fellow parent whose patience for public schools ran out when his son’s high school English teacher introduced herself in a conference and used the phrase “I would have went” in reference to a better college.  When the principal came to the teacher’s defense, he ended the conference and pulled his son out of the school.  I agree, perhaps things would be better if she would have gone to a better college.  

Edited by p1ng74
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Enormity is another word that is nearly always misused. ]

Nauseous and nauseated are two other words frequently misused. Someone may say they are nauseous - and so they may be, but that has nothing to do with their feeling queasy or nauseated. It means only that they inspire that sensation in others.

Edited by Shyheels

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Nausea, shmausea!  I just feel sick. A word that doesn't happily cross the Atlantic. We could devote many column inches (column centimetres?) to US vs UK.

Such inncocent UK expressions as:

* A tramp in the woods.

* Some fags

* Beavering away

* Keep ypur pecker up

Take on a very different hue in the US.

PS: The forum software has appended my subsequent post, rather than showing it as a separate one.

Catastrophe! The Apostrophe Protection Society is closing down: https://www.apostrophe.org.uk/

The founder even won an IgNobel Prize for literature: https://www.improbable.com/2019/12/01/an-end-at-the-apostrophe/

Edited by at9

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How can you imagine now how poor foreigners could speak a proper English?

We are facing the same enormities in French and it drives me crazy. 

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Mais en France vous avez l'Academie Francaise!

In English we have no such formal  authority over the language. The Academie tries to fight a (usually) losing battle against anlicisms. "Le weekend" is part of normal French.

English borrows, no steals, shamelessly from all quarters and may the best words win. Linguistic purity be damned, English is a mongrel tongue and all the better for it.

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One of the beauties of the English language is it’s enormous palette of words, over a million in all, and the precision with which ideas can be expressed. That is now being dismantled and destroyed by ignorance, laziness, stupidity and political correctness. 

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5 hours ago, at9 said:

English is a mongrel tongue and all the better for it.

 - - Now add Hillbilly, Redneck and Southern Drawl - - Me thinks ya might get a wee bit unsorted !!

 

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That’s pronunciation not the language itself

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Actually, though it's to the dismay of the Academie, 'le weekend'  sits quite comfortably in French.  It breaks none of the language's phonological rules and describes an alien thing, rather well, in fact, because it maintains the thing's foreignness.  Use your ears.  That's how to know when to use an apostrophe too.  Hear what you're writing.

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It also provides one more use of the letter "W", something very rare in French. ISTR the French Scrabble set allocates 10 points to W.

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14 hours ago, Shyheels said:

One of the beauties of the English language is it’s enormous palette of words, over a million in all, and the precision with which ideas can be expressed. That is now being dismantled and destroyed by ignorance, laziness, stupidity and political correctness. 

Some of the degradation is just sloppiness, and it is worth resisting.  Sloppiness is the default human tendency, and this applies to many things like language and fashion.  It's sloppy not to be thinking about their/they're/there when using it.  When I see sloppiness, I like to find subtle ways of drawing attention to it.  We can all use help in staying attentive and mindful of what we are doing every day, whether it be in language or the shoes we are wearing!  

 

14 hours ago, Shyheels said:

That’s pronunciation not the language itself

What about words like "y'all", which has a strong association with southern drawl but allows for an expression of the plural second person that is not official in the language?  :)

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It's still pronunciation, not language - just a slovenly construction of 'you all'.

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5 minutes ago, Shyheels said:

It's still pronunciation, not language - just a slovenly construction of 'you all'.

That's fair.  But there seems to be an abundance of variations in English associated with southern drawl that extend beyond just pronunciation.  Another example that comes to mind is the word fixin', used to mean "getting ready" as opposed to repair.  

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In the grand scheme of the routes of English, from Beowulf through Chaucer and Shakespeare to the present day our current evolution of the language seems quite modest. Though perhaps it's happening faster now than ever before. In Shakespeare's time, new words were frequently coined and spelling was very variable. Most people can't read Chaucer, let alone Beowulf, without interpretative notes. Even Shakespeare can be tricky though it's largely recognisable. We can still understand most writings from the past 100+ years. Though you need to watch out for words that have changed their meaning, eg "shampoo". This is from Hindi, and originally meant "massage".

There's a nice balance to be struck between a healthy, living, evolving language and good quality writing.

Spoken and written language influence each other. Elision is common in spoken language, some of this finds its way into written text. Hence "would of" and other such monstrosities.  For a language where the writers were at war with the speakers look at Irish Gaelic. I believe that Welsh is phonetic, even if it looks like a serious accident with a Scrabble set.

I once knew a Polish guy whose nickname was "Scrabble", because his name looked like an accident with a Scrabble set.

An incredibly useful online resource is: https://www.etymonline.com/

I believe it's all about the study of insects:-)

Edited by at9
Typo
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I agree, English seems to have been relatively stable over the years, especially when compared with Chinese.  

I have seen "would've" used in writing to reflect elision.  To me, "would of" just looks like the writer used the wrong word.  

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And yet a lot of words we think of as modern can be found in Shakespeare. Quite a surprising number. 

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2 hours ago, Shyheels said:

And yet a lot of words we think of as modern can be found in Shakespeare. Quite a surprising number. 

It seems like that was a very defining era for the English language.  John Heywood appears to be a source of many expressions still in common use today.  

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It was also the era when the Bible first began being translated into English

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One usage that really grates on me is seen and saw.  I hear so many people use "I seen that" rather than the correct "I saw that"  It aggravates me.

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That certainly is an ignorant usage of the language. I don’t hear that one often, thankfully. I do remember a school bus driver many years ago, when I was a child, who used to say that - shouting “I seen you do that!” - and even then, as kids, this backwoods usage used to make us wince, and laugh. 

Edited by Shyheels

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"I seen..." may well be standard in West Country* dialect. Along with "I be..." instead of "I am....". Other parts of the UK may still use "I are..." and "I is...." in their dialect.

 

*For the benefit of foreigners, the West Country in England is Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset. Cornwall often likes to consider itself a place apart from England.

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I’ve travelled a bit in the West Country and have never yet heard anyone saying “I seen”. No doubt there are individuals who would use such a construction, but I wouldn't  say it was standard usage or anywhere near it. 

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As a construction electrician with extensive higher education, I find that I constantly struggle to find a balance between using proper English and being accepted with the guys I work with. If I'm at a new job site, I will often purposefully dumb down my normal vocabulary, and purposefully use improper grammar until I figure out the group. However, no matter where I've gone over the past 24 years, somehow that nasty rumor that I'm a lawyer eventually comes out. At that point, I am invariably designated spokesman every time there is an issue with management. Ain't none of this seems to have helped me in my electrical career, but it does keep things interesting.

Edited by mlroseplant
I'm not even gonna fess up to this. . .

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I personally prefer to have a   grammar as perfect as possible  and mix with some slang words with people who didn’t have the chance of  follow the best educational system 

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Ain’t ??    Love it....    sf

 

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