Language Rules

Definately Fixing Alot Of Americas Grammar 1 Word At A Thyme

Archive for the ‘apostrophes’ Category

txt spk, language, education

with 8 comments

ive wanted to write a post in txt spk for quite sum time now. not totally txt spk so u cant read it at all, but just 1 where i can shorten things n see how it looks. u c, ive been in correspondance lately with a woman frm sweden who lives in london and who ive been wanting to help get on a translation course.

ive noticed a few things about her which id like to share here, maybe to get a better understanding of her (once ive written it all down).

first of all, in all her emails and msn etc she only uses txt spk. i.e. even if its a written document its just txt speak, not ‘real’ English. its not over the top teenage txt spk, but for instance all the time she uses u to say ‘you’ n stuff like that, so u can still read it but its certainly linguistically wrong! i havent challenged her about it as its quite a touchy subject i think. i mean wot am i gonna say? eh babe can u actually use proper language?

the spk she uses is not totally txt spk, but a weird form of standard english with loads of txt abbreviations thrown in. here are sum of the characteristicsn of her language:

  • shortening of words via contraction, often: omission of vowels (example: ‘some’ – ‘sum’; ‘you’ – ‘u’; ‘would’ – ‘wud’)
  • poor vocabulary (sum stats of the average use of vocabulary wud b useful here, i.e. how many different words an average spker of English uses)
  • poor punctuation (very little understanding of puncutation rules; often, ommision of punctuation mark even tho theyre required)
  • absence or incorrect use of apostrophe’s (e.g. it’s will always be written as its, while other times the apostrophe is placed incorrectly)
  • general spelling mistakes (alot of spelling mistakes, indicating poor grasp of english)
  • absense of structure (longer emails lack structure an its difficult to comprehend what she means sumtimes)
  • use of lowercase ‘i’ – she always uses lowercase ‘i’, never uppercase

the funny thing is that she does strike me as quite intelligent, only her language is so rotten and messy that i really dont know if its improvable or not, i.e. within an educational context. theres been stuff on the news where teachers at secondary school get assignments written in half txt speak and thats what it must look like.

id luv to be able to help her somehow but dont think i can. ive always taken it for granted that ppl know how to write relatively well, but maybe thats because ive only ever corresponded with those that can. maybe its me being snobbish, but it does somewhat illustrate the importance of a gud education imho.

the reason why i wanted to write this post in txt spk (yes, all the errors are intentionel :P ) is to demonstrate that language, to me, is very adaptable to whatever u want it to do. its not a reflection of any exterior reality. its a tool that u can use in all sorts of contexts, and the way u use it conveys a lot of information about u. so, use it wisely. use txt speak if u want n it makes ur life easier, but remember to switch back to proper English if u want to make urself understood.

Written by lenina

2007 May 15 at 11:46

What’s the Genitive Singular of ‘address’?

with 12 comments

I’ve been working on a translation project lately and just got stuck a wee bit. Look at the following sentence:

Alternatively, you can put it onto your email address’ ‘whitelist’

(intended meaning: ‘you can put it onto the ‘whitelist’ of your email address’)

Can someone tell me what the correct genitive singular is of the word ‘address’? I mean, in writing, you could just add an apostrophe, like what I’ve done above. However, it doesn’t look right. I’ve been trying to figure it out using Google, but not very helpful. I thought for a moment it might be addresse’s as I think that’s pronouncable (you can hear that it’s a genitive); however, on pasting addresse’s into Google I get stuff like this:

Beware sellers of unconfirmed addresse’s with paypal payments from buyers.

Doesn’t help, does it? Any sensible suggestions or pointers? For now, I’m just going to not use genitive, as I reckon that:

Alternatively, you can put it onto your email address ‘whitelist’

is grammatically correct too.

Written by lenina

2007 Feb 2 at 19:46

Marks and Spencer’s Apostrophe Catastrophe

with 37 comments

(I love my heading! Read it out loud.)

In the news today: British retailer Marks and Spencer got a slogan wrong on its children’s Christmas pyjama range:

“The slogan “Mum’s dreaming of a quiet Christmas just like the one’s she used to know” has a rogue second apostrophe.”

Apparently, it’s not the first time either:


“In October, the store withdrew a set of children’s pyjamas which had a picture of two giraffes and an extra apostrophe on the words “Baby Giraffe’s”.”

Full story here.


Written by lenina

2006 Dec 25 at 13:13

Language Watch: Guardian Unlimited Podcast Blog

with 8 comments

I’ve just come across another missing apostrophe. Either these are on the increase or I notice them more, now that I have to write about them :P

From Guardian Unlimited Podcast Blog (here):

The Guardian’s Social Affairs Editor, John Carvel, has used the paper’s IT team to help him disentangle the accounts of over a hundred hospital trusts in England and finds that at least 12 of them are technically bankrupt. He explains that the government has designed a financial control system that makes it impossible for them solve the problem – its like a black hole in space, says John.

Thankfully I’m registered with them so I was able to leave a comment which I hope they’ll look kindly upon :)

Written by lenina

2006 Dec 11 at 18:22

Posted in apostrophes, English

Language Problems: ‘4 Years(‘) Experience’

with 57 comments

As a non-native speaker, I am sometimes unsure in matters of the English language. While I’m pretty knowledgeable regarding grammar and sentence structure – a knowledge acquired through studying linguistics and also Latin for a number of years – there are some grey spots in my mind.

One such grey spot concerns the construction ‘years experience’. For instance, I have over 4 years / years’ experience as remote worker. Which one is correct? With or without apostrophe? Typing the construction into Google doesn’t help. The rest of the world too seems to have a problem with this. Here are some examples copied from search results when inputting ‘years’ experience’:

  • CERTIFIED SERVICE TECHNICIAN Minimum 3 years experience
  • Backed by 40 years experience

  • Forty Years’ Experience

  • Nanny with 7 years experience

  • We are looking to recruit a Solicitor with 4 years’ corporate experience

I suppose my confusion partly stems from my native language (German). For instance, you can say:

“Wir suchen einen Anwalt mit 4 Jahren Erfahrung (We are looking for a solicitor with 4 years experience)”

Here, ‘Jahren’ (years) seems to be used as plural form (4 years). On the other hand, less elegantly, you could also say:

“Wir suchen einen Anwalt mit Erfahrung von 4 Jahren (We are looking for a solicitor with 4 years of experience)”

Here, ‘von 4 Jahren’ is I think Genitive – or is it Dative? See, I’m not even sure here :) – if it were Genitive, I would be inclined to argue that the apostrophe in English (in the first sentence, i.e. the one without the ‘of’) is necessary. But I’m not sure and the more I think about it, the less sure I am :P

I’m hoping that someone can clear up the issue once and for all. So, today’s question:

  1. Which one is correct: “I have 4 years experience” OR “I have 4 years’ experience“?
  2. More importantly, why?

Written by lenina

2006 Dec 10 at 12:52

The Greengrocer’s at it again

with one comment

Last time I contributed about apostrophes, I mentioned that there is a particular misuse of the apostrophe that is actually named after greengrocers. 

It’s a shame to malign greengrocers because their signs are so cheery, somehow .  Maybe it’s all that crunchy good health. 

But not long after I wrote about Apple’s for $6.95 a kilogram,  our local market was advertising Rosy Ladys for so much per kilogram.  No, there was no apostrophe this time.  But somehow the plural didn’t look right.  

 I have to ask – if one apple is a Rosy lady, are two of them Rosy Ladies or Rosy Ladys?  I don’t want to make assumptions about my local greengrocer just because of a reputation! 

Written by Bronwyn

2006 Dec 2 at 19:46

Language Watch: BBC News Website

with 5 comments

Occasionally, I come across errors and mistakes on reputable websites that really should know better. It doesn’t bother me too much; it’s mostly irritating, given that these sites have some sort of ‘responsibility’ imho to use language correctly.

Just today I read this on the BBC website (here):

“The campaign is raising the necessary capital through pledges and has already received more than 60,000 euros.

If the group is successful it will purchase the source code for the game and distribute it for free.

Avid fans could then write code and contribute to the game’s development.

“The game won’t change, its more the way people will use it” said Xavier Antoviaque, a founder of the campaign and an ex-employee of Nevrax.”

Spot the error :p

I wish there was some direct feedback system so I could notify the editors. The author of the news item isn’t even identified.

Whenever I spot any language-related errors on reputable sites, I’ll post them here (under ‘Language Watch’). I think we should collect them all, or even let the sites know. With regard to the BBC – how such mistakes get past whoever proofreads their stuff is a mystery to me! It simply shouldn’t happen.

edit: I DO like smileys. Aren’t they enabled on this blog? They don’t show. I know it’s mainly about language but a little bit of colour here and there wouldn’t go amiss ;)

Written by lenina

2006 Dec 1 at 12:58

Posted in apostrophes