Language Rules

Definately Fixing Alot Of Americas Grammar 1 Word At A Thyme

Archive for the ‘language’ Category

Visual vs. Visional

with 2 comments

What is the difference between the two?

I heard that visual refers to what they EYES see, as opposed to visional, which refers to what the MIND sees.  Is there any truth to this?

How can “visional” be used in a sentence?

Last question: Can both words be considered adjective forms of the noun “vision?”

Thank you! :)

Written by reeyah

2007 Jul 6 at 21:37

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

Language Problems: Articles (The/A/’Omission’)

with 10 comments

I’m having to revise my PhD thesis (minor corrections) and one item on the list of corrections pertains to my use of articles. The internal examiner wrote:

Page 16, line 3, should read ‘new media’, not ‘the new media’. The use of such prepositions [sic] before ‘media’ and other nouns should be reviewed throughout the thesis. Example, p. 71 ‘the TV’, ‘the magazine’, p. 76 ‘the telephone’, p. 94 ‘the tv’

Now, I didn’t think I had many problems with articles these days. I proofread a non-native friend’s MA thesis and corrected many instances of incorrect article use. I thought I had cracked it.

Apparently this is not the case. I’ve tried narrowing down my specific problem with it, and I think it concerns mainly ‘the’ vs. ‘no article (omission)’. Here are two actual examples from my thesis:

The commercial advent of the new media, especially the digital computer and the Internet, has revived popular and academic interest in Marshall McLuhan’s theory of the media.


Similar to the TV, the World Wide Web (WWW) too is defined by a high degree of remediation.

I *think* my problem is that I use ‘the’ when contrasting two or more nouns and my reasoning is that, when contrasting, you’re referring to something specific or particular and therefore, the direct article is necessary. In the above example, consider the following:

The commercial advent of the new media [as opposed to the old media], especially the digital computer and the Internet, has revived popular and academic interest in Marshall McLuhan’s theory of the media [i.e. not the cinema, not the new media].

I can see it looks odd now myself. I’d really appreciate it if someone could point me to references or articles dealing with this particular problem. I need to understand exactly what it is and why I’m getting it wrong before starting with my corrections. My thesis is 320 pages long and it will take a few days to actually read it all and correct the article situation. I can’t really afford not to understand it and then having to read it again :(

Written by lenina

2007 Jan 10 at 04:34

Perfecting the Perfect Tenses

with 3 comments

I was preparing my lesson plan on Perfect Tenses and, being the forgetful dork that I am, forgot my previous year’s LP in school (for reference). Since I have no intention of hauling my lovely ass back to school before Christmas break is over, I decided to browse around the internet for some ideas and clarifications (hell, after all my students’ questions last year, it’s best to be prepared).

Lo and behold the best site explaining the Perfect Tenses (to adults, at least):

Gareth Jones’s Perfect Tenses

This one’s helpful also: Present Perfect

Now I have to work on motivation and drills. (not to mention translating the explanations into kid-friendly language. ^_^)

Written by reeyah

2006 Dec 26 at 08:43

Posted in English, grammar, language

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

Could of, should of, would of

with 192 comments

I’ve been wanting to write about ‘could of, should of, would of’ for a while. As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m a language purist, not a language fascist, and I am interested (amongst other things) in the way language changes through its use.

‘Could of, should of, would of’ is a very good case in point. When I first read ‘I should of seen it coming’ instead of ‘I should’ve seen it coming’ I was convinced it was incorrect. After all, ‘of’ is a preposition (or rather, an adposition) and in ‘should’ve’ , the ‘ve’ is a contraction of ‘have’. I.e. ‘ve’ and ‘of’ have nothing in common, apart from (mabye) their pronunciation.

Anyhow, some months after my first encounter with ‘should of’ (and its siblings ‘could of’ and ‘would of’), I read somewhere that it’s now in fact gramatically correct to use these forms, i.e. in writing. Thus, incorrect terms via common usage have become correct. The reason for my post is to (hopefully) collate some more information on this matter – I couldn’t find any good discussion on ‘could of, should of, would of’, apart from the links below:

This guy here claims these forms are incorrect.

Here‘s a linguist’s take on the matter.

What do you guys think? Is it correct or incorrect? Any supporting evidence welcome.


PS: I’d also be interested in the differences between AE and BE regarding the matter. I see it a lot in BE; however, I don’t read much AE at all so I wouldn’t know how common this problem is in AE.

Written by lenina

2006 Dec 6 at 09:58

tx 4 readng thiz

with 2 comments


Last week I decided to clean out one corner of the basement by giving away about 200 excess cookbooks I’ve accumulated from auction purchases over the years. Toward that end, I sent a message out to the local Freecycle group, offering cookbooks to all interested parties. Several of the messages I received in reply were written along these lines:

“i’d like 2 have some of ur books, tx 4 the offer, i cn b by 2 pick thm up 2day”

I have a teenage daughter, so I’m fully acquainted with IM-speak, which is meant to be typed quickly and to look cool as well as to communicate. And, as a sender of cell-phone text messages, I can appreciate the need to abbreviate on occasion.

But my tolerance wanes when we’re talking about e-mail messages — particularly those intended to transact personal business or communicate about work issues. Maybe it’s just me, and I’m showing my 40-somethingness, but I didn’t feel that the above sorts of responses were appropriate to the situation. Perhaps it was the fact that these answers didn’t match the tone in which I made my offer. Had my message said

“hey, freecyclers, i’ve got 2 many kool cookbooks & want 2 share with u”

then sure, I’d expect something similar from respondents. But my message didn’t resemble that in the slightest.

I’m concerned that young people may be so immersed in IM-speak that they’re letting it color the style they use for other communication. Like it or not, at some point, they’ll need to write serious, formal letters and/or e-mail messages to coworkers, potential employers, and others, and I’m afraid they won’t know how.

Just for the heck of it, I wrote the following pretend letter:

Dear Alphonse:

I’m writing to express my pleasure at seeing you recently. Our conversation was most enjoyable, and I hope we’ll be able to get together for lunch some day soon. You can reach me by e-mail or phone. Please give my best to Prudence.



Then, I asked my daughter to translate it (with a certain amount of license) into IM-speak. Here’s her version:

hey a – that waz kool I got 2 meet u ur kool 2 talk 2 n mby we can go 2 the moviez some time. u should call me to msg me. who r u friends w/on myspace? send me a friend request, k? tell Prudy I said hey. ttyl lyl <3 TiFfANy

She assures me that she knows the difference between “correct” writing and the sort of writing that’s appropriate for informal situations, and I believe she does. But she gets almost no practice with formal letters — especially those written on paper and sent by snail mail. Many kids never have these kinds of conversations with their parents and may never receive any instruction in the finely tuned variations of written interpersonal communication.

When today’s teenagers become tomorrow’s employees, and they dash off a quick e-mail to the boss without enough thought or respond to a job interview with an inappropriately casual note, will they understand why the response is negative? I don’t think so. But at least they cn IM thr frnds & tlk about how OMG the boss iz a lzer.

Written by tiffanytaylor

2006 Sep 8 at 08:04