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It's Nothing Short of an Apastrophe... - dorsetgirl
May 18th, 2011
01:52 pm
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It's Nothing Short of an Apastrophe...
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I was thinking only this morning that the world needs a new word. It's quite clear that many people simply don't care about getting their apostrophes in the right places, but I feel each error, and it hurts.

So I invented a new word. APASTROPHE - blatant misuse of apostrophes, causing damage to my brain (mild), and the writer's credibility (catastrophic).

I had originally intended to post a simple rant about this example, found on the website of my children's school:

"What areas of your childs learning would you like [the school] to focus on in the future?"

Ooh, I dunno, how about ... grammar and punctuation? YOU'RE A GRAMMAR SCHOOL, PEOPLE - GET YOUR OWN RIGHT FIRST!

And then I did some googling for something completely unrelated and came across this horror, which I simply had to share. Somehow the red text makes it even worse:




And finally, in the course of logging on to the parents' area of the school website, I was shocked to find that they hate me even more than I thought they did. I've never seen this screen before, and I can't say it makes me feel very welcome:



(btw, if you consider I've made any grammatical errors here - feel free to point them out, politely, for my mortification and your daily schadenfreude. I like to discuss and learn.)




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From:thesmallhobbit
Date:May 18th, 2011 04:17 pm (UTC)
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I think the word "apastrophe" should quickly become standard English. I know I occasionally make mistakes, but it does really rile me when people do it on a regular basis, especially as in "word's and picture's".

However, trying to leave this comment left me totally mystified, until I realised I was clicking on the comment tag, rather than "leave a comment".
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From:dorsetgirl
Date:May 23rd, 2011 05:13 pm (UTC)
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It has a certain ring to it, doesn't it! The rules really aren't that complicated - I can't imagine why people don't bother teaching it any more.
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From:jayb111
Date:May 18th, 2011 05:31 pm (UTC)
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I share your pain. I don't think anyone under forty knows how to use apostrophes properly. There was a sandwich bar near here that used to advertise "baguette's" and "sandwich'es". (It was opposite the pub that doesn't know how to spell its own name, which is another rant.)

Plural possessives are the worst. I've seen it wrong in professionally published fiction, and it's a rare fanfic writer that can get it right. White Collar writers, I'm looking at you - fic after fic with scenes set at "the Burke's house" until I'm ready to scream.
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From:dorsetgirl
Date:May 23rd, 2011 05:20 pm (UTC)
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"sandwich'es"

Ow, that one really hurts.

You may know better than I do when and why schools stopped teaching such things, but I do remember working with a bunch of top-notch young management consultants in about 1995 - they would have been born around 1970 - and although they were extremely impressive in their ability to step up and lead a team at a moment's notice or make a presentation to senior management off the cuff, none of them could actually write a sentence that didn't make them look uneducated. (They couldn't actually have run a bath, much less an operational department, but they certainly talked the talk).

Do tell which pub?
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From:jayb111
Date:May 26th, 2011 02:30 pm (UTC)
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when and why schools stopped teaching such things

It was in the 1970s, and it was for the reasons you say in your post below - so as not to stifle children's creativity by worrying them with spelling and punctuation. Personally, I think these things need to be drilled into children in Junior school, so that by the time they need to do extended writing at secondary school or university, it's ingrained, and they don't need to think about it.

Do tell which pub?

It's the Von Alten, on the way to the next town. Von Alten was a real life person in the Napoleonic War, and the sign shows someone of that era, so I assume that's who it was named after. Then a new sign appeared on the front - 'Von Alton' - while the original 'Von Alten' remains on the side. Bugs me every time I walk past. It's been closed for a while, probably karma.

I remembered another apastrophe (great word!) the other day. The local Sainsbury's a while ago had a post box 'for our customer's convenience'. I kept wanting to ask if they only had one customer, but they probably wouldn't have understood.
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From:gritsinmisery
Date:May 18th, 2011 05:58 pm (UTC)
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You should submit this word to spellfecker.

I totes have been known to use my "grocery store pen" (the one I use to mark off the things on my shopping list after I've picked them up) to scratch out extra apostrophes on signs in shops.

When I worked at a day spa, the owner / boss knew and admitted she was rubbish at grammar, punctuation, and spelling, but refused to let anyone look over anything like the signs for services and products she printed to go up around the shop or her monthly newsletter. I told her over and over it made her look unprofessional, but she was more interested in just getting things out than letting me (or anyone who could spell, etc.) spend two minutes looking something over and correcting it. *sighs*

I mean seriously, the use of apostrophes is dead simple. IDGI.
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From:dorsetgirl
Date:May 23rd, 2011 05:41 pm (UTC)
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she was more interested in just getting things out

See, that's where it's really fallen apart. Time was, people would be aware that they were shit at such things; they would be embarrassed about it and they would get help. Nowadays they don't even seem to understand that there is something they're missing, or - as in this case - that it matters. /old codger

Personally, I think "its" is the killer for most people. They get the idea that it's "John's book", but then they get "The vet took the cat's temperature. What did he do? He took its temperature" and they've lost all confidence in their understanding. Schools should explicitly teach this exception imo.

Thanks for the link to spellfecker btw. The user info says it's "A place to learn about and share little known, interesting and often filthy words." Many of the words certainly look made up, but it doesn't actually say so. Also, the heading says "A filthy word a day" and this isn't filthy. So, dunno, but I decided not to post 'coz I hate getting things wrong.
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From:gritsinmisery
Date:May 23rd, 2011 05:44 pm (UTC)
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Spellfecker goes for days or even weeks without anybody submitting anything, and none of the latest have been "filthy" IMO. But it was just a suggestion.
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From:talkingtothesky
Date:May 18th, 2011 06:13 pm (UTC)
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*wince* I wasn't even taught that there's no apostrophe in its (not it is, the possessive kind) until GCSE English. I always thought it went after the s. I've always prided myself on being pedantic about this sort of thing so when I found that out I was absolutely mortified.
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From:dorsetgirl
Date:May 23rd, 2011 05:48 pm (UTC)
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Ow, that's mean. That's just plain negligence on the part of your teachers imo. To have a student who wants to learn, who takes pride in getting this sort of thing absolutely right, and then not to bother giving any feedback or guidance is simple dereliction of duty.

I remember being told by a Reception teacher that "we don't correct their spellings at this stage, because we don't want to inhibit their creativity" or some such. I've certainly heard from people now in their thirties and above that they were left thoroughly discouraged in their writing endeavours by teachers telling them they'd got it all wrong, but personally I think a little red pen never goes amiss, and the teacher doesn't need to start actually following it up until the child is a little older. That way, at least the child/student has the information if they're interested and ready for it.

(Hope the exams are going well, btw - do they take place alongside GCSEs or at a different time?)
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