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Michael_Molnar

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I was taught the real and true, straight and narrow way at school. Suffice it to say that the above evidence of usage compels me to retract my previously implied criticism.

"An honest retraction/apology is better than a deleted post" (sorry, I can't remember which great philosopher coined that one...)

Jacob,

There's no retraction needed. The full title of my dictionary is Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language. Usage in other parts of the English speaking world might be different.

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Jacob,

There's no retraction needed. The full title of my dictionary is Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language. Usage in other parts of the English speaking world might be different.

No sweat, I owe you. For the first time in my life I will feel confident to use the word "aggravate" with complete freedom. At my age, every bit of added freedom is a bonus :)B):) :)

In response to another post: just to clarify, "real and true" represents one concept, "straight and narrow" another. Kind of like "Luther" and "Calvin" combined - four words, two concepts. At least, that's my version - I'm not that bad at punctuation.

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In response to another post: just to clarify, "real and true" represents one concept, "straight and narrow" another. Kind of like "Luther" and "Calvin" combined - four words, two concepts. At least, that's my version - I'm not that bad at punctuation.

I knew that -- thought it was safe to razz you since you actually understood those concepts and presented them correctly.

In my other life, I am an author...spend my entire life editing (in my head) my words, customers' words, TV announcers' words, Internet words.... would like to find the "off" switch. That's why I confessed to being a grammar nazi.

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In my other life, I am an author...spend my entire life editing (in my head) my words, customers' words, TV announcers' words, Internet words.... would like to find the "off" switch. That's why I confessed to being a grammar nazi.

Sometimes grammar rules need to be violated. Consider the following:

"The violinist auditioned behind a curtain." The story goes on as one of the following two possibilities:

1. He or she tuned his or her violin longer than expected, and we gave him or her lower marks, accordingly. The player, himself or herself, was oblivious to taking up extra time with his or her trivial tasks. Finally, he or she started to play.

2. He or she tuned their violin longer than expected, and we gave them lower marks, accordingly. The player, themselves, was oblivious to taking up extra time with their trivial tasks. Finally, they started to play.

Example 1 is grotesquely awkward, but entirely grammatical. Example 2 is somewhat less awkward, but clearly ungrammatical. Choosing between 1 and 2, I vote for 2.

The English language badly needs a gender neutral third person singular pronoun in all of its cases. We also need to distinguish 2nd person singular and plural pronouns. "You" as singular and "you all" or "you guys" as plural work for me, but aren't acceptable in formal situations.

What we don't need is the hyper-correction of "me" as "I," as in "between you and I," as some supposed educated form of English. "Between we?" Sure enough, I heard "between we..." or something similar not long ago.

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On occasions where pretentious language might manifest, the careful reader will look closely for catalysts or causes. It is unusual for most people to adopt a pretentious posture without reason. And it goes without saying that pretentious language will be found most irritating to its instigators, not that I am naming names.

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The use of "they" or "them" to refer to an individual of undetermined gender annoys me. So instead of:

"The violinist auditioned behind a curtain. He or she tuned his or her violin longer than expected, and we gave him or her lower marks, accordingly. The player, himself or herself, was oblivious to taking up extra time with his or her trivial tasks. Finally, he or she started to play."

Why not:

"The violinist auditioned behind a curtain. We gave lower marks for excessive tuning time. The player was oblivious to taking up extra time and finally started to play."

And to all of you who confuse "its" and "it's," don't think I don't notice.

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Why not:

"The violinist auditioned behind a curtain. We gave lower marks for excessive tuning time. The player was oblivious to taking up extra time and finally started to play."

If that's option 3, I'm changing my vote to 3. In this case option 3 is shorter and conveys all the information.

My point was that we, as English speakers, are drifting toward some kind of gender neutral 3rd person singular, almost unconsciously: "I didn't see the driver's face, but I got their license number before they sped away." And we seem to be using the 3rd person plural to do it, even though it's ungrammatical. Why the change? Maybe political correctness. A default male gender for an unknown singular 3rd person is no longer acceptable.

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How actually does spell check work when posting? I have never been able to spell worth a damn, believe me it's embarrassing

Also, every time that I click on Reply the previous post is quoted and I have to highlight and delete it. What's with that?

Eric,

Please see post no. 21 for replying. For spell check to work it has to be installed in your browser.

Lyle

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You know, comma abuse really flummoxes my synaptic dendrites.

You would probably enjoy the book "Eats, Shoots and Leaves". Very funny book about the misuse of punctuation.

My biggest hot-button (well, apart from all caps) is misuse of apostrophes, particularly writers who forget that "it's" always means "it is" and "you're" always means "you are". But believing that the internet forums should be treated as conversations rather than serious writing, I don't feel it's worth making a fuss over. However I do get annoyed when I see that misuse in newspapers or other publications that employ editors!

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You would probably enjoy the book "Eats, Shoots and Leaves". Very funny book about the misuse of punctuation.

My biggest hot-button (well, apart from all caps) is misuse of apostrophes, particularly writers who forget that "it's" always means "it is" and "you're" always means "you are". But believing that the internet forums should be treated as conversations rather than serious writing, I don't feel it's worth making a fuss over. However I do get annoyed when I see that misuse in newspapers or other publications that employ editors!

Steve,

You are getting at the most important point in all this, namely, communicating clearly. Who cares about violating some English teacher's grammar rules, if there's no loss in meaning and intent, and you haven't slowed down the process of understanding for the reader.

But sometimes misplacing a comma can result in vastly different meanings:

What does the murderer do in the restaurant? Eats, shoots and leaves. (With comma)

What does a panda do for a meal? Eats shoots and leaves. (No comma)

The trick is to look at what one has written with the eyes of the reader, with no knowledge of intent of the writer, ie, to pretend you know only what's on the page, even though you wrote it and do know more. That's not easy to do.

In general, following the grammar rules of that cranky English teacher does facilitate mutual understanding because those rules are widely agreed to.

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The trick is to look at what one has written with the eyes of the reader, with no knowledge of intent of the writer, ie, to pretend you know only what's on the page, even though you wrote it and do know more. That's not easy to do.

In general, following the grammar rules of that cranky English teacher does facilitate mutual understanding because those rules are widely agreed to.

Often after posting I re-read my post and try and look at it in a fresh manner, as someone reading it for the first time. Then I edit it with the necessary changes to make a more coherent presentation.

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If I come across the book, I will read it. I am not often recommended a book, but when I am, I do follow up out of curiosity, as I did with rmacd’s recommendation of Uncertain Sounds by Vincent Massey some time ago.

Of course Ron neglected to inform me the book was uncommon enough that it would be some nine months until my local library would manage to secure a copy, and only then from Queen’s University. Thankfully, my library missed the clear warning on the loan band that said “Loan for read in library only, not to be removed from loaned branch”, so I managed to read it at home instead of having to plough through it there. Either they missed it, or they just trust me, which might be the case because it has happened three times now with inter-loan books not to be removed. Mind you, I might be the only library patron who brings them goodies from time to time.

You have no idea what good library service is until you tell a librarian how underappreciated their work is. :)

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Often after posting I re-read my post and try and look at it in a fresh manner, as someone reading it for the first time. Then I edit it with the necessary changes to make a more coherent presentation.

It's hard to avoid re-reading and re-writing if the goal is clarity. But that often means, for me, at least, that what was supposed to be a quick, 2 or 3 minutes spent posting turns into 10, 20, 30 minutes of re-thinking and re-writing.

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Posting styles could be said to be an elitist construct....a class distinction which was at one time useful to differentiate between those who were educated and those who weren't.

My pet peeve is those who say, "I could care less" when they actually mean, "I couldn't care less".

This fails on the basis of logic alone.

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You lost me with your comment David. I like to use interesting language for a certain writing style, and do so for several reasons, but it could never be as an elitist class distinction. On the contrary, I must confess to deriving a certain amusement from being almost competent enough to hold my own, with the knowledge that I am unschooled. I often joke that I'm a grade nine dropout, but that is not completely true. In the stricter sense, my formal education ended two years earlier in grade seven, because I spent most of my time thereafter in the hall, or in the corner, and perhaps the latter will not be a surprise to some.

In actuality, we are all educated. The only difference is how. My education is free, and available to everyone.

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Sorry GMM, I was partly just joking around, and taking a minor jab at the "posting Nazis". :)

At one time, there was some truth to the notion though. One could make a good guess about education (including self-education) and region from a speaking or writing style. When class distinctions were more valued than they are today, it was a clue how someone fit into the structure.

Now, regional and social dialects have become more blurred, less value is placed on formality, and humble beginnings can be considered an asset. Presidential addresses can be given in conversational language, and might even be argued to communicate more effectively that way. Didn't we have one candidate a while back who would "axe" a question? :)

I grew up in a rather formal environment, so some of my efforts have been directed toward being less that way. :)

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I use "..." to quote speech or other and '...' to enclose a term.

So I would have to object to "it's" and "it is" and "you're" and "you are".

Object away, but I believe that using quotes in this manner is a standard and accepted style--at least in the United States. Apart from that I believe using single quotes to enclose a term containing an apostrophe would be confusing to the reader so I wouldn't do it anyway!

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