Punctuation

Discussion in 'Evolution of Language' started by Tom Locke, Sep 20, 2015.

  1. Tom Locke

    Tom Locke Very Well-Known Member
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    It may be the proliferation of things like text messaging and Twitter, but punctuation seems to be sliding into extinction. Often, where it is used, it is wrong (see the number of times people use apostrophes in inappropriate places).

    I'm reminded of the example provided by the writer Kingsley Amis, who provided a wonderful example of why we need punctuation. Compare the two sentences:

    Those things over there are my husband's.
    Those things over there are my husbands.

    One little apostrophe, one big change of meaning!
     
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  2. Sheldon Scott

    Sheldon Scott Very Well-Known Member
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    It's time to eat, children
    It's time to eat children
     
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  3. Tom Locke

    Tom Locke Very Well-Known Member
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    We ran out of food, so we ate the cat's.
    We ran out of food, so we ate the cats.
     
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  4. Hannah Davis

    Hannah Davis Active Member
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    Yes, punctuation is essential to good grammar. But it can be quite tricky not doubt about that. Look at its and it's seems like two simple words but they can be two difficult words to master. It can be challenging to know which one to use at a particular moment. I guess the best way to remember is if it's can be replaced with it is or it has then it's with the apostrophe should be used.
     
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  5. Tom Locke

    Tom Locke Very Well-Known Member
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    Something that always annoys me is when people splatter random commas into text. I had a boss that used to do that and his emails were always a source of both irritation and mirth. You'd get something like this:

    "There will, be a team meeting, at 10:00 tomorrow morning. Please, bring an up to date progress report, on your current workload."

    This isn't entirely realistic - you'd probably have at least a couple of spelling mistakes in there as well.
     
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  6. Ike Willis

    Ike Willis Very Well-Known Member
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    #6
  7. Krissttina Isobe

    Krissttina Isobe Very Well-Known Member
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    :oops:Apostrophes are important and they do mean things and should be used properly so we can get the meaning of the sentence. Lucky for me there is spelling auto correct too! When in doubt I usually check on it.
     
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  8. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Very Well-Known Member
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    I am probably the worst person in the world in regard to the use of commas. But, maybe not, for I put them where I want in order to convey the manner in which I speak.
    When I read books, blogs, or posts I honor where the commas are in order to get a feel of the actual person. I take the necessary breaks and take a mental breath and then move on as the writer apparently does.

    Now, that can be a hazard especially if you are either reading a speech or writing the thing. In short, it ain't pretty.
    Imagine, if you will, Abe Lincoln's Gettysburg Address as he might have spoken it.
    "Four score, and seven years ago, our fathers, brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition, that all men, are created equal."
    In actuality there is only one comma in this famous line and it is between "nation and conceived."

    Of course, I am not saying that the overuse of commas is a good thing, but it does give a little taste of what the person is actually trying to convey in a naturalistic sense, although it's a definite no-no in an English, Literature or Journalism class.

    Oh yeah, BTW, a number of years ago an English professor at UCLA gave a lecture espousing a new type of conjugation for the verb form, "I am" stating that it is now proper to say and write, "I be, you be, he she or it BE'S." So now, we also have a new use for the dreaded apostrophe not to mention the new we's and us's that are springing up all over the place.

    I be's gone now. No, I is gone. No, I are gone. Forget it. At least I am really, really good with exclamation points!!!! Ya just can't have enough of 'em!!!!!!!!!
     
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  9. Alaska Wolf

    Alaska Wolf Guest

    Not only has punctuation gone by the wayside, but spelling and just plain old good grammar too. ;) I'm pretty sure that people being in such a hurry contributes, as does twitter, facebook and various other places that people don't seem to think they need to use any of the above. Soon, but hopefully not in our generation or the next, I'm sure that all of it will be revised.
     
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  10. Bill Boggs

    Bill Boggs Very Well-Known Member
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    It is leaving me at a pretty fast clip, my spelling, my ability to use the correct grammar or punctuation, choosing the right word.
     
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  11. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I forget words more often than I'd like. Even simple words sometimes, I'll know that there is a word to make the point that I want to make, only I don't remember what it is.
     
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  12. Tom Locke

    Tom Locke Very Well-Known Member
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    One thing that I've never got my head around is why so many people spell plurals using an apostrophe. Where did that come from? One of the most basic things you learn in junior school is the use of plurals, whereby you generally add an 's' to a word with the exception of words ending -y, unless it's -ey. Of course, English being English, you get the odd exception (e.g. monies), but nowhere in the scheme of things is there a place for an apostrophe.
     
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  13. Ike Willis

    Ike Willis Very Well-Known Member
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    I guess I'm guilty of the apostrophe thing. I tend to put 'em everywhere. WTH, I'm a generous sort.:D
     
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  14. Jorge Ruiz

    Jorge Ruiz Member
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    Hey all.

    As to the apostrophe, well, the pity is that its reason for being is never explained. Both native English speakers and those who study English as a second language are thrown that strange punctuation mark without the very clear reason for its existence having been pointed out. Here it is, guys and gals:

    The apostrophe, in English, always represents letters that have been removed. Always. So,

    It's (a missing "i" in the case of "is"; a missing "ha" in the case of "has")
    'em (as in Ike's post above!) (a missing "th" in a casual, conversational way of writing "them")
    'cause (missing the "be" of "because")
    The '90s (a missing "19" in the year "1990s")

    Now, there's the difficulty of the possessive apostrophe + s in English. This is known as the Saxon Genitive. Way back when English was young, there did exists declination of nouns, and the possessive declination is called Genitive. In older English, this declination was represented by adding an -es to the person that possessed the object. So, "Mary's boyfriend" would have been "Maryes boyfriend". As English evolved, that "e" from the "es" genitive ending was lopped out, replaced by the apostrophe which, as I repeated twice above, always represents graphic symbols in written language that have been left out. There is no other use for the apostrophe in modern English.

    The comma is quite a different creature, difficult to master, more difficult to explain. There is the so-called Oxford comma, for example. Where Mrs Stilch repeated again and again in sixth grade that you should never put a comma before a conjunction (and, or, but), the Oxford comma does just that. So Mrs Stilch would have wanted to see "I have some apples, pears and bananas.", while the Oxford more would insist on "I have some apples, pears, and bananas." It's often up to style book requirements and the pet peeves of editors (there is a writing platform that seems to drum the editors with silly comma rules, even giving them pat comma comments to give writers when correcting their texts-- they seem to be obsessed with commas!).

    There is a question on the Spanish Drivers' test, goes something like this:

    ¿Está equivocado un conductor al girar a la derecha cuando un semáforo está en rojo? (Is a driver wrong to make a right turn at a red light?) (by the way, this is never permitted in Spain)
    a) No está permitido. (It is not permitted.)
    b) No, está permitido. (No, he's not wrong, it is permitted.)

    This is one of the most often wrongly answered question on the test. I personally think it's a trick question to see if the taker is paying attention, or worse, is literate.

    peace,
    revel.
     
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  15. Tom Locke

    Tom Locke Very Well-Known Member
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    Of course, the English language is full of exceptions that prove rules, so possessive its does not have the apostrophe of other possessives. This trips up many people.
     
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  16. Ike Willis

    Ike Willis Very Well-Known Member
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    Apostrophe's are cheap, use 'em up, as y'all see fit.:D
     
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    Last edited: Oct 24, 2015
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  17. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    You're not British, by any chance, are you? That's how they feel about vowels.
     
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  18. Ike Willis

    Ike Willis Very Well-Known Member
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    Nope. Slovak and German.
     
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  19. Joe Riley

    Joe Riley Veteran Member
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  20. Terry Page

    Terry Page Very Well-Known Member
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    I guess as others have mentioned as I age I get more and more confused over most things in life o_O spelling and punctuation being one, I do still feel a mild irritation when I see mistakes by others, but make more myself anyway, so it must be a leftover judging part of my mind that is pretty redundant these days. :)
     
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  21. Carlota Clemens

    Carlota Clemens Well-Known Member
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    I remember myself in childhood being advised by my teachers to make use of commas as we speak, not necessarily following specific grammar rules. Then after, and being in high school, I learned that commas and colons should be place into parenthesis, and this is the way I was asked to do it later in life doing freelance writing.

    Today, I have seen punctuation marks outside parenthesis in renowned sites including About.com and The New York Times, so I have given up and have returned to the basics; make use of them according to the inflection of my voice when reading out loud a given text.
     
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  22. Tom Locke

    Tom Locke Very Well-Known Member
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    I can recall being told something by an English teacher when I was about 11 or 12. He would refer to commas, semi-colons, colons and full stops as "1, 2, 3 and 4," these being the graduation of pauses. I quite liked that concept and have remembered it ever since.
     
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  23. Tom Locke

    Tom Locke Very Well-Known Member
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    ...and another one, from the very same teacher. This was on the subject of punctuation and quotation marks. His phrase was "inside the box" and those of us with a love of football could remember that one easily.
     
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  24. Joe Riley

    Joe Riley Veteran Member
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  25. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    Well, I am on an ipad and its touch screen and sometimes I dont touch it hard enough or I touch the letter next to it
    So I make many typos, also after awhile my finger hurts so I try to get by with typing as little as possible.

    Also, Im having trouble on this forum with my ipad in correcting mistakes....the word gets underlined in read but for some reason It takes a lot of effort to get back to that word to change it...so I wait and do it in "edit"

    I am getting frustrated though...and it only happens here for me.

    So...that is my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
     
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