Language Rules

Definately Fixing Alot Of Americas Grammar 1 Word At A Thyme

Archive for the ‘spelling’ 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

All right now…

with 8 comments

This is my pet peeve to end all language pet peeves. Two words are used to spell “all right.” That’s exactly what it should look like, all right? It means satisfactory, agreeable.

The Chicago Manual of Style says to avoid “alright.” To my chagrin, “alright” has been used in business publications, by journalists, and even by Gertrude Stein.

Speaking for myself alone, I cannot stand “alright” because it looks like a misspelling.

But something interesting is happening to the usage of “alright.” Contemporary American urban use has reduced it to a single syllable expressed on paper as “a’ight.” If you’re one of the more than 35 million TV viewers of “American Idol,” you would’ve heard judge Randy Jackson say “a’ight” more than a few times per episode. It’s pronounced like the word “height” but without the H.

I accept “a’ight.” The apostrophe, inserted to indicate that letters have been removed, makes this spelling acceptable (palatable, really).

So here’s to “a’ight.” Though it’s considered slang right now, I’d welcome its entry into the dictionary.

Written by wellaintheworld

2007 Feb 18 at 21:41

Wiktionary – ‘Misspellings’ Category

with 2 comments

There’s a ‘misspellings’ category on Wiktionary, here, which I wanted to share with fellow language enthusiasts. It just lists common misspellings. Our old friend ‘should of’ is listed there as incorrect. There are also some other favourites of mine including ‘definately’, ‘occurence’, and even another one of those pesky ‘apostrophe – s’ cases: ‘April Fool’s Day’.

On the contentious issue of Wikipedia’s accuracy, I would say that I’m pretty confident that its content is to a large extent authoritative and correct – others agree. I used it a lot in my PhD research (though I read somewhere this is not allowed in a US academic context).

On a slightly different note, has anyone ever used the WordPress built-in spellchecker? I think it’s a fairly recent addition but I’ve only used it once or twice (should use it more regularly.. maybe they can add a grammar check too).

Written by lenina

2006 Dec 21 at 14:17

Language Watch: ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ (Film)

with 49 comments

When watching the new Bond film (Casino Royale) last night, I had to sit through a number of trailers, as you do. One of them caught my eye:

The Pursuit of Happyness

Disregarding the fact that the film looks like an incredibly boring, ‘American dream’ kind of film with Will Smith pursuing happiness for himself and his young son (by working hard, thus leaving his poor Black neighbourhood behind and eventually ‘making it’ through hard work and enabled by the US of A and the freedom and choice it provides, blah blah blah, propaganda blah blah blah), I could not believe my eyes when at the end of this very dull trailer, the film title was revealed:

The Pursuit of Happyness

Is it me or is this spelling of ‘happyness’ totally bloody wrong? Did I just use a question mark where there shouldn’t be one? I just couldn’t believe it. So, here are two questions for today:

  1. Is the spelling of ‘happyness’ right or wrong? It isn’t recognised by
  2. Why would they spell it incorrectly, if it is indeed incorrect? Are they so thick that no one in the chain of producing a Hollywood film actually fucking notices? Or is it an intentional spelling error? If yes, WHY WHY WHY?

Please enlighten me.

Boycott this film.

PS: We should at some point create some template letters/emails to send to governments, media companies, and anyone else in a position of public responsibility that uses language incorrectly. As I’ve argued before, I do strongly believe they have a responsibility to use it correctly.

Written by lenina

2006 Dec 7 at 05:46

Posted in spelling

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

pour a cup of coffee, and pore over this post

with 12 comments

I received a glossy full-color advertisement in the mail a couple of days ago proclaiming something to the effect that “our researchers have poured over millions of pages to bring you this incredible find.”

Really? What did they pour over the pages? Maple syrup, maybe, or transmission fluid, or shampoo?

The researchers didn’t pour: They pored. But wait, you say. A pore is a little bitty hole in something, like the pores in your skin that pour out sweat when you play tennis. Surely the researchers weren’t poking holes in their books, so that can’t be right.

Yes, it is. The verb form of pore means “to scrutinize,” or “to read or study intently.” It’s always used with the word over. So:

“Pinky poured fuel oil and fertilizer into the giant bomb while the Brain pored over the final adjustments to the timing mechanism.”

“As Scarlett poured herself into her red dress and Rhett poured champagne, they silently pored over their very different visions of the future.”

Written by tiffanytaylor

2006 Sep 12 at 07:08

Fair Enough

with 2 comments

I came across this witty and thoughtful essay by an professor in language and linguistics, the author of several such works on the English language and its nature in American society, at my former institution of higher education regarding perspectives on language of varying dialects, origins, and, shall we say, “prescriptive correctness.” His view, like many others’, including even mine, is that grammar that seems improper, and language that seems incorrect, are forms of grammar and of language nonetheless and should be seen as acceptable, not as an indication that the knowledge of language has diminished to any discernable degree. He further refutes any opinions to the contrary:

“The use of non-standard English is often incorrectly linked to a decline in intellectual standards. Unbending supporters of standard English insist that without enforced measures of correctness, language will decay, communication will break down, and civilization as we know it will disappear. Literacy, already imperiled, will deteriorate even further. And scores on standardized tests will plummet.

“But, although warnings that linguistic diversity will produce cultural decay have been bandied about for centuries now, variety in language is a sign of health rather than disease. Language dies not when it is misused, but when it is silenced. It is more likely that English will meet its end through the inappropriate splitting of atoms, not infinitives; through international discord, not subject-verb disagreements.”

Touché. What annoys me, though, and what probably similarly annoys most other folks who remotely care about these sorts of things, is not in the least linguistic diversity but precisely decaying language. To me, there needs to be a distinction between variance in usage of English for purposeful reasons versus accidental reasons. I don’t think anyone would argue that the author of an essay riddled with grammatical and orthographic mistakes is simply expressing his or her linguistic diversity; rather, the argument would likely be that he or she doesn’t know the guidelines of the language very well.

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Written by benferguson

2006 Sep 6 at 17:49

Posted in grammar, language, spelling