Extracts from threads

Selected on a purely personal basis for which we offer no explanation or apology.

Gabriel-Ernest, Nov 8th, 2006 – 5:32 PM That voiced consonant
. . . cow-towing to political correctness . . .
Or, in fact, kotowing. Although the vision that is conjured up is quite marvellous and could give rise to a new ‘old’ saying: “You can tow a cow to political correctness but you can’t stop it beefing”.

Little Mole, Jun 6th, 2006 – 1:14 PM Re: Correcting Errors
My Geography teacher and I (I think that’s right) both correct the signs around the high school.
Twoddle, Jun 6th, 2006 – 5:04 PM
Mole, My Geography teacher and I (I think that’s right) both correct the signs around the high school.
Excellent (but why doesn’t the English teacher do it?).
Paul Doherty, Jun 6th, 2006 – 5:17 PM
why doesn’t the English teacher do it?
Keeps getting lost.

Tone, Oct 14th, 2006 -9:18 PM Re: Hotels
We must move in very different circles.
Yes, Vv. Mayhap yours have jackets that are a bit rumpled, rather than strait.

Tone, Oct 16th, 2006 – 10:04 PM Re: Hotels
At least some people saw my pun.
(I think I will save it, and use it again when opportunity arises.)
Dave, Oct 17th, 2006 – 2:28 AM Re: Hotels
(I think I will save it, and use it again when opportunity arises.)
You have been known to recycle.
Jeff, Oct 17th, 2006 – 2:45 AM Re: Hotels
>You have been known to recycle.<
Yes, Dave, but sometimes by popular request. Jeff.
Tone, Oct 17th, 2006 – 11:37 AM Re: Hotels
but sometimes by popular request. Jeff.
Thank you, kind Sir.

Little Mole, Jun 6th, 2006 – 1:14 PM Re: Correcting Errors
My Geography teacher and I (I think that’s right) both correct the signs around the high school.
Twoddle, Jun 6th, 2006 – 5:04 PM
Mole, My Geography teacher and I (I think that’s right) both correct the signs around the high school.
Excellent (but why doesn’t the English teacher do it?).
Paul Doherty, Jun 6th, 2006 – 5:17 PM
why doesn’t the English teacher do it?
Keeps getting lost.

Verbivore, May 25th, 2006 – 8:41 AM Re: Simile
Matt F: If something is compared to something that is unlike it, is the device still a simile?
Perhaps it’s a dissimile.
Sue M-V, May 25th, 2006 – 9:37
Isn’t it just irony? I do like Vv’s "dissimile", though! That’s what it should be called.
Barry, May 26th, 2006 – 12:08 AM
I too like dissimile. Let’s spread the word, and get Vv an entry in OED!
Dave, May 26th, 2006 – 5:52 AM
I thought "dissimile" as the answer when reading Matt F’s question and Verbivore had it at the ready!
He hasn’t entered it (yet) in his own lexicon.
Verbivore, May 26th, 2006 – 10:27 AM
Dave: Verbivore had it at the ready!
He hasn’t entered it (yet) in his own lexicon.
Hmmm … certainly seems to qualify as a neologism, and may be of interest to writers. Shall give it thought.
Matt F, May 26th, 2006 – 11:52 AM
I too like dissimile. Let’s spread the word, and get Vv an entry in OED!
Indeed. I found "dissimile" quite brilliant.

Barry, Apr 29th, 2006 – 9:49 PM Re: bite your lips
that I might be the only genuine poster on this site
I’m working up to being a full poster, but at the moment, I’m just a flyer…
Detritus Apr 29th, 2006 – 10:00 PM Re: bite your lips
Barry, I’ll put my handout to you then. You could ask Bill Stickers for help, if he hasn’t been prosecuted yet.

Tone, Apr 5th, 2006 – 9:23 PM Re: Protection of apostrophe
Tone’s list of Pratchett books in recommended order of reading
It was "Reaper Man", but it will be not good unles you follow Barry’s guidance. At least get through, in order, as far as "Mort" or you will be unlikely to appreciate it! (You could jump in to "Pyramids", which is a bit stand-alone character-wise as a story, but still the overall scenario will be missing.)
Here they are (in order):
The Colour of Magic
The Light Fantastic
Equal Rites
Wyrd Sisters
Guard! Guards!
Moving Pictures
Reaper Man
Witches Abroad
Small Gods
Lords and Ladies
Men at Arms
Soul Music
Interesting Times
Feet of Clay

Dave, Dec 30th, 2005 – 8:59 AM Re: Query on apostrophe
IP address
osric: Is that where you go to micturate?

Sue M-V, Dec 16th, 2005 – 11:44 AM Re: English has to be one of the hardest languages to understand
I live in the vain hope that some of you timid types might one day break free of toeing the rather tragic guru-worshipping party line and actually express an original, interesting, and dissenting view
Dear Mifgus,
In the unlikely event that all posters here actually agreed with you,would we still be open to the same criticism?
You ought to face the fact that here, there is no party line. I’m not even sure who you think our "guru" might be. We disagree frequently about a great many things. We are all free, here, to think precisely as we wish. There is no pressure on us from any direction. There is not even really a "we", since posters here are in no way connected, but simply a random bunch of individuals who have never met. If we seem not to agree with you, it is because you have not succeeded in convincing us that you are right.
You cannot bludgeon us into agreement by browbeating us with your indelicate insults. We inhabit a higher sphere, where successful arguments appeal to our intellect. We are not intimidated by bullies.
I realise, from past experience, that saying this to you is like banging my head against a brick wall, but I live in the vain hope that one day, you might grow up.
Yours exasperatedly,

Paul Doherty, Sep 18th, 2005 – 11:22 PM Re: Pronunciation
It’ll be an allergy, Twod, but I think sheep get it from cropping the grass too short. A sort of graze allergy.

Heidi, Aug 19th, 2005 – 10:49 PM Re: Oxford comma
Once upon a time… Okay, like, a few years ago… There was a budgeting crisis. There were x amount of funds to be distributed, and three departments wanted it. Call ’em Recreation Department, Parks department, and Water Department. So, there was a sentence in the budget. It said, "The money is to be divided equally between these departments: Water, Parks and Recreation." So, the money was halved — half to the Water Department, and half to Parks and Recreation. Of course, you can see the problem. There was a big tiff about it, but I think the Parks Department and the Recreation Department just had to deal with having only a quarter each. I heard this over the grapevine, so someone with access to a law site (or who just knows) would have to confirm it as true. I just thought it was a beautiful story to have about the importance of punctuation in law.
Tone, Aug 20th, 2005 – 9:39 AM
Thank you, Heidi. It will be stored and re-used when needed. (To confound the ignorant.) (!)
Twoddle, Aug 20th, 2005 – 10:40 AM
Heidi, That’s an excellent example of where the discretionary use of the Oxford comma would have been advantageous!

Tone, Aug 1st, 2005 – 8:54 PM Re: Friday…
How big is a tumbler? Usually a fairly short guy, but very gymnastic!
Dave, Aug 1st, 2005 – 9:06 PM
How big is a tumbler? Depends on the size of the combination lock.
Tone, Aug 1st, 2005 – 9:12 PM
A quick look in the SOED shows that we could go on all night with that theme. I particularly liked the "inexperienced window-cleaner".
Jeff, Aug 1st, 2005 – 9:26 PM
>I particularly liked the "inexperienced window-cleaner".< Certainly not George Formby, Tone.
Twoddle, Aug 1st, 2005 – 9:30 PM
Tone, I particularly liked the "inexperienced window-cleaner". One wonders whether he’ll live long enough to be an experienced window-cleaner.
Wordweb gives: "Pigeon that executes backward somersaults in flight or on the ground". That’d make a trip to Trafalgar Square more interesting.

Twoddle, Jul 22nd, 2005 – 11:49 AM Re: Nouns used as verbs
Mike Harding (an English comedian) tells a story from his tour of America, which took place a few years ago. He and his road crew had travelled the length and breadth of the States, performing at every stop, and eating in restaurants en-route. Everywhere he ate, the menu was steak, steak and steak – steak so big it would have fed forty Africans for a week. After performing at a Native-American reservation, he ate at the local restaurant, which was owned, managed, and staffed by Native Americans. The menu said "steak", but Harding was sick unto death of steak, and longed for the curried, oriental-style meals of his home town (somewhere in the north of England).
With the Native American waiter lurking at his elbow, ready to take the order, Harding said to his crew, in a loud voice:
D’you know, I could really murder an indian!

John H (APS Webmaster), Jun 18th, 2005 – 11:43 PM Re: Whacko – Off Topic
After all the posts under this title, and similarly the Batman posting, which have little to do with language let alone the apostrophe, please don’t anyone ever again complain about interesting "on-topic" items quickly dropping off from the 250 maximum limit placed on this Message Board! Regards, JH

Verbivore, Jun 1, 05 – 4:19 AM sesquipedalian indulgence
I can’t find the thread about favourite words (dropped of the edge of world, no doubt), so a new thread.
I arrived home a few minutes ago with a new book: New York Times Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused & Mispronounced Words by Laurence Urdang. I couldn’t resist sharing the final paragraph of the Foreword; it’s a lexicophile’s delight.
Not a succedaneum for satisfying the nympholepsy of nullifidians, it is hoped that the haecceity of this enchiridion of arcane and recondite sesquipedalian items will appeal to the oniomania of an eximious Gemeinschaft whose legerity and sophrosyne, whose Sprachgefühl and orexis will find more than fugacious fulfillment among its felicific pages.
From the Foreword of Laurence Urdang’s New York Times Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused & Mispronounced Words (pity about the missing serial comma).
There were only five ‘show-off’ words for which I didn’t need to look up meanings! Just in case others are as challenged as was I, here is a list—with definitions from the book.
succedaneum, n = a substitute; frequently an inferior one
nympholepsy, n = violent emotional longings, especially for something unobtainable
nullifidian, n = a person without religious belief
haecceity, n = the quality that gives something its individuality
enchiridion, n = a handbook
arcane, adj = obscure, secret, esoteric
recondite, adj = concerned with or involving abstruse or difficult subjects; esoteric; little known; obscure
sesquipedalian, adj = given to the use of long words [literally, a foot-and-a-half long—which wasn’t mentioned in the book]
oniomania, n = an irrepressible urge to buy things
eximious, adj = outstanding; eminent
Gemeinschaft, n = 1. a fellowship of people having similar tastes; 2. a group with a strong sense of common identity
legerity, n = agility of mind or of limb
sophrosyne, n = self-control; moderation; prudence Sprachgefühl, n = an instinctive grasp of the spirit of a language, especially consciousness of what is acceptable usage in a particular language’s grammar or idiom
orexis, n = the aspect of mental activity concerned with emotion and desire rather than cognition
fugacious, adj = fleeting; passing quickly away; ephemeral
felicific, adj = producing or tending to produce happiness

Mildr, Jun 1st, 2005 – 4:33 PM Re: Another pronunciation
TfS, My mother has called electricity "elecktruh-city" for eighty-odd years. Mr Mildr (who worked in electronics, so does know really) calls it elastrickery! It seems quite apt to me, as the way the little electrons zip out of the wall always seems like magic.

Sue M-V, May 31, 05 – 3:05 PM English rules OK!
Buzz, I’ve finally sorted out those mock rules of English you mentioned at the weekend. Here they are for your delectation:
Ø Don’t never use no double negatives.
Ø Make each pronoun agree with their antecedent.
Ø When dangling, watch those participles.
Ø Don’t use commas, which aren’t necessary.
Ø Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
Ø About those sentence fragments.
Ø Try to not ever split infinitives.
Ø Its important to use apostrophe’s correctly.
Ø Always read through what you have written to see you any words out.
Ø Corekt speling is esentiel.

Sue M-V, May 15th, 2005 – 2:41 PM Re: "footballers wives"
Let’s suppose, Tone, that you are detained in Tuvalu. You let the arresting oficers know in no uncertain terms that you understand only English. They then find an interpreter who informs you in English (impeccable or oherwise) why they consider that you have been a naughty boy. I would say that they have done what they could. They establish that you understand English and they inform you in that language. They’re not under any obligation to ensure that you understand every phrase and item of vocabulary that they may use, just the language (as opposed to French, let’s say). I imagine that many uneducated people arrested in their own countries and addressed in their native tongues don’t understand half of what goes on in a courtroom.
I’m reminded of the famous anecdote about F. E. Smith, the barrister, (later the first Earl of Birkenhead), who, after a brilliant summary of the evidence in a court case for the benefit of the judge, who was finding the whole thing beyond his comprehension, was met with a bemused gaze. The judge said: "I am sorry, Mr Smith, but I am none the wiser." Smith paused, sighed deeply and replied: "No, my Lord, but you are better informed."
Barry, May 15th, 2005 – 3:20 PM Re: "footballers wives"
Sue, The wonderful F.E. Smith. I think it was he who, when describing a weekend in the country, away from civilization, summed it up as: "simply miles from the nearest lemon".

Noel, Apr 18th, 2005 – 2:12 PM Re: Racist ice cream?
I think we have all made our positions clear.
To round off the debate, perhaps – though anyone still to air their views should not be deterred – I saw a nice cartoon in Private Eye over the weekend. Two colleagues, perhaps in a government department, one with a report under his arm:
"No, Johnson, you can’t say ‘political correctness gone mad’. It’s ‘political correctness gone mentally challenged’."

Kaneshiro, Apr 16, 05 – 7:49 PM I think I have a crush on Lynne Truss
Should I be embarrassed by this?
Tone, Apr 16th, 2005 – 9:38 PM
Not at all. You should run off to search the world for her – keeping well away from any computers (for our benefit) and shouting continuously, "I’m looking for a truss".
Twoddle, Apr 16th, 2005 – 9:43 PM
Should I be embarrassed by this? Yes, you should; but why single that out from the rest of your life?

Susie, Apr 15th, 2005 – 3:46 AM Re: Cheap horror schlock – why do I do it?
Barry/Mildr: I admit to loving (what others consider) "trashy novels". I really enjoy reading nonsense whilst lying in the bath and sipping wine. It’s one the great joys of my life. Lying in the bath with a copy of War and Peace and sipping wine wouldn’t be the same!
Barry, Apr 15th, 2005 – 8:41 AM
Susie: I know what you mean. I tried lying in the bath with The Lindisfarne Gospels and a glass of wine, but it didn’t do it for me. And I got a wigging from the British Library for getting the pages all curly; not to mention a great big Liebfraumilch stain all down the illumination accompanying St Luke’s description of the Nativity (I think they’re re-considering their ‘lending library’ option ).
glo, Apr 15th, 2005 – 9:39 AM Liebfraumilch?!!!!
osric, Apr 15th, 2005 – 10:08 AM Yes, I think Blue Nun would have been eminently more appropriate.

Dave Miller, Apr 11, 05 – 1:09 PM Thoughts on, or to, Kaneshiro
Kaneshiro, Firstly, welcome. It’s always good to see newcomers to this forum, it’s good to help people with genuine requests, and it’s good to see different points of view.
I have the impression, though, that people here are treating you very differently: some see you as annoying, others see you as purposely rude, still others see you as genuinely asking for help and expressing a keen interest in language.
I’m not sure yet. I do think, though, that you deserve a chance. I’m therefore going to be very big-headed and give you some advice (even though you didn’t ask for it).
(1) We don’t know much about you (of course) so it’s hard to decide how old you are, how much we can expect you to know already, and when you are joking.
I suggest: if you have a question about language, simple ask it (all of us here love to discuss any point of language). If you don’t catch what the reply means, ask again – that’s OK. In this way, we get to understand how best to discuss things with you.
(2) If you disagree with what someone writes, that’s fine – but try to put WHY you disagree, rather than just slag ’em off. (If you’re right, we’ll all love to know why. If you’re mistaken, someone can explain why, without having to get back at you personally).
(3) Read the posts CAREFULLY. (All of us have made the mistake of reading once and bashing out a reply, only to find out later what the person REALLY wrote!) For example, a couple of people recently tried to explain to you that "either side of" means one side OR the other side, and that "each side of" means both sides – but you didn’t seem to take any notice.
(4) Keep to discussing language. There are thousands of groups available for discussion on other topics, and we need to keep our space here free for discussion on language.
(5) Don’t keep going on about homosexuality – language works in much the same way for people of all sexualities, so it seems either irrelevant or rude to keep bringing the subject up. We’re not "avoiding" the subject here but most of the time it’s simply irrelevant – and, to a lot of people, boring.
As I say, I’m being very big-headed to assume I can give you advice. I mean well, though, and I hope you’ll see it that way.

glo, Apr 8th, 2005 – 10:17 AM Re: Why do I very often hear people say "sez" instead of "says"?
Mildr, "I am woman" too!!!!
Mildr, Apr 8th, 2005 – 10:23 AM
Many, many apologies, glo. May I be forgiven for this oversight! I’m donning Twod’s sackcloth as I type this.
Twoddle, Apr 8th, 2005 – 11:11 AM
Mildr, I’m donning Twod’s sackcloth as I type this.
I’m still wearing it! (Pauses while considering possibilities.)
Mildr, Apr 8th, 2005 – 11:26 AM
Well, there’s no answer to that, really. I’ll have to take my place in the queue while you serve your penance; shame it’s so cold today.
Paul Doherty, Apr 8th, 2005 – 12:04 PM
> shame it’s so cold today <
You get to share Twod’s sackcloth, and that’s your first comment? Harsh, Mildr, very harsh.
Mildr, Apr 8th, 2005 – 12:09 PM
Not as harsh as the sackcloth, Paul. Sharing it didn’t cross my mind; I’m in the queue.
glo, Apr 8th, 2005 – 2:35 PM
Mildr, Twod can keep his sackcloth, apology readily accepted.

Paul Doherty, Mar 29th, 2005 – 3:18 PM Re: What do you crazy cats make of this?
Mikey, possibly we need to clarify the APS a bit. The website (not this forum) reflect the views of one man, John Richards. He invented the "Apostrophe Protection Society", which is good publicity but is pretty much a fiction — the only "members", as far as I know, are John himself and maybe his son. The website was set up by John Hale as a favour for John Richards because he supported his views and thought it would make a good website. John H also created this forum. And then we all flooded in. We have no standing with the "APS", and are not "members". We don’t have a single joint view, and we don’t adhere to any particular agenda, although most of us value the polite nature of the forum and the courteously-expressed debates about linguistic matters. Johns Richards and Hale don’t participate (except that John Hale pops up every now and then to remind us to keep on-topic). The view of the forum — in as much as there is one — is less black-and-white than that of the website. Most of us, I think, accept that there is a range of linguistic sins (although we don’t agree what goes where or even what type of English the sins might be a departure from) from the venial to the mortal. We also (I think) mostly accept that what might be OK in a quick e-mail is not necessarily right on a printed notice or a school newsletter. Different standards should (or do, like it or not) apply to different people. I probably wouldn’t mind much if my plumber gave me a quote to "fit two sink’s" (although my plumber would never make such a mistake, in fact!) but I might shudder to see that a shop had a proper sign saying that it sold "Sink’s, Bath’s, Shower’s and Toilet’s", or if my children’s school wrote to me about their duties when they are acting in lowco prentice. The forum also differs on whether standards are rising, falling, or both; whether language change is good, bad, or variable; whether something can be said to be incorrect if it’s what most people say; who is to blame if someone can’t write properly (the writer himself, teachers, government, exam system?); what is "properly" anyway; and, of course, on the correctness or otherwise of a whole range of linguistic minutiae. So I hesitate to talk about a consensus, but my feeling is that many of the examples of "incorrect" usage you cite are on the venial end of the scale, and we recognise that large numbers of perfectly literate people use them and indeed regard them as correct. They mostly wouldn’t be our chosen way of solving that particular problem, but we recognise there is is problem with dates, single letters, abbreviations and such like (all regularly raised here) and there way be more than one solution. We prefer one way, but, on these particular issues, we hold back from condemning other ways too robustly. Which is what I see as Ask Oxford’s attitude: "it might not be our preferred way, but it’s quite widespread and it’s not the greatest of linguistic sins." I would certainly regard born in the 1930’s as less reprehensible than pizza’s delivered (and, in turn, pizza’s delivered as more understandable than hedge’s cut and drive’s resurfaced).

victorbravo, Mar 28, 05 – 4:44 PM MS Word Grammar Complaints in the News
A while back we had a thread or two on whether Microsoft Word’s Grammar program contributed to a decline in proper usage. The issue has now made the front page of the Seattle Post Intelligencer: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/217802_grammar28.asp There is a link to some interesting sentences that pass MS’s test. Vic

victorbravo, Mar 25th, 2005 – 4:05 PM Re: Errors in newspapers
Back on the subject of errors in newspapers, recently I read a headline: "Pilot ejects after jet fighter crashes". That caught my attention because I would guess that ejecting after a crash would be rather futile. The story, however, was slightly less dramatic. The lead sentence stated: "A pilot ejected seconds before his fighter jet crashed"
Paul Doherty, Mar 25th, 2005 – 6:00 PM
"Monty Flies Back to Front"?
I also liked: "CND Ducks Vote on Bomb".
(Both British, so I suppose shouldn’t be in "Sentence Case" — US papers do that, we don’t.)
Mildr, Mar 26th, 2005 – 10:19 AM
There was a tragic accident near here yesterday, which I don’t wish to belittle in any way. The reporting, however, stopped my son and me in mid-mouthful at lunch-time: "The plane crashed into flames". Why didn’t it avoid the flames?

Mildr, Mar 24th, 2005 – 4:28 PM Re: Double whammy
I don’t do any languages or any fancy techie stuff. Anyone want to know about gorillas – or is everyone clued up on them as well?
Mildr, Mar 24th, 2005 – 9:06 PM
Twod, I’ve not seen any around here, Mildr, although I suppose they could be hiding in the mist.
Only if they are mountain gorillas. I know more about Western lowlands.
Barry, Mar 24th, 2005 – 10:21 PM
Lowland gorillas, eh, Mildr? How very new-fangled. My gorilla is an old-fashioned eye-level one. [groan]
Tone, Mar 25th, 2005 – 9:13 PM
Mildr, Only if they are mountain gorillas .Wouldn’t they die out if they didn’t? Tone

Twoddle, Mar 23rd, 2005 – 6:48 PM Re: Dates with zeroes in them
There was the well-known incident in the Second World War, when the guns of a squadron of Japanese fighter planes were found to be inoperative because someone had sabotaged them by stuffing fruit into their barrels. It turned out to be a case of Zeros with dates in them. Someone had to do it.

Twoddle, Mar 16th, 2005 – 11:06 AM Re: well, actually ....
Jeff, In my youth, poster advertisements were forever exhorting us to "Drink Canada Dry", presumably because there weren’t enough Canadians to do it on their own. After viewing a recent TV programme which showed some of your beautiful lakes, I take it that the attempt was unsuccessful?

osric, Feb 24th, 2005 – 9:51 PM Re: Big, brown house
I use this sequence with adjectives:Opinion Size Age Shape Colour Origin Material Purpose.
a beautiful small old rectangular yellow Greek leather boxing glove
Twoddle, Feb 24th, 2005 – 10:30 PM
Osric, How am I supposed to remember that? OSAShCOMP? Do you know the whys and wherefores of it, by any chance?

Paul Doherty, Feb 5th, 2005 – 3:45 AM Re: Whats it all about!
> So why do we debate it so much? <
And to answer my own question, in part we argue some of this stuff out because (how ever odd it may seem to an outsider) we enjoy the intellectual challenge of trying to understand how language works, in the same way as some people enjoy doing crosswords or making clocks. But I don’t entirely agree with Glyn that our debates here are no more than other debates on the Internet on brick-laying, how to make the best curry, and so on. I think the language we use here — sometimes, certainly not always — is a little different. People don’t denounce other people’s curry recipe as "wrong", or bewail the fact that people aren’t taught to make curries properly any more. Other hobbies seem to accept that people have preferences, likes and dislikes, and it’s rare for anyone to claim that their way is right ("correct") and everyone else is wrong. That does happen here. No doubt some sites do debate right and wrong — Glyn’s bricklaying is a good example: I’m sure there is a right way to lay a wall, and a wrong way. But even there, reasons are given — "If you do it like that, the wall will fall down." I suspect it’s rare on brickie.com for someone to say "look, that’s the right way to do it because that’s what I was taught. I suppose, yes, your wall works as a wall, but it’s still wrong." Even more rare for someone to say "Yes, virtually all walls are built like that, and, yes, they work perfectly well, but they are all wrong and the only right way to do it is the way that almost no-one does it any more." All that happens with language debate. So it’s not quite like an intellectual discussion about the merits or demerits of different computer languages — there’s clearly overtones of social grading and educational snobbery going on, a nd I think we should recognise that and fight against it. We feel that standard English is better than non-standard English in a rather different way than we might feel that XMTML is a better computer language than HTML, and that’s not entirely a good thing.

Twoddle, Feb 4th, 2005 – 3:15 PM Re: Whats it all about!
Vom, The attempts to communicate with you are flawed not by their failure to use the language effectively, but by your failure to look beyond the rules and listen (or read) what is actually being said. Does that not strike you as something of an irony?
It’s not an irony, because it doesn’t happen. On the other hand, and to echo Osric, why should just "getting the gist" (to use Lynne Truss’s words) of something be sufficient? No doubt Neanderthals got the gist, but one hopes we’ve progressed a long way in communication since then. Glyn’s answer was, as ever, a masterpiece of both communication and the correct use of grammar, the two being totally compatible.
To add an example of the need for correct punctuation: "The dogs kennel." Is it a kennel for one dog, or several?
Knowledge of the correct use of one’s own language is a fundamental requirement of civilisation. I’ve learnt an enormous amount since I’ve been posting to this forum, and, where possible, I’ve passed on my knowledge to those who’ve requested it. No-one has looked down his nose at me and, apart from looking down my nose at the occasional trolls – who should have been aborted as foetuses – I’ve looked down my nose at no-one. The forum’s educational, fun, and a hobby, but it’s not our lives, and we find plenty of other things to do. Would you criticise a forum devoted to mathematics, on the grounds that the posters might despise people who weren’t as good as them at maths? Or a forum of aircraft pilots, because they might be snobby about folk who can’t fly aeroplanes? You could extend the argument to every hobby known to mankind.

Sue, Jan 22nd, 2005 – 4:17 PM Re: A variant of the plural abuse
Gosh, some people get really hot under the collar, don’t they?! It occurs to me that educational standards as such can’t have gone downhill particularly since the fifties. I started school then and have been involved in education one way or another ever since, so I think I’m entitled to an opinion in the matter. There have always been grossly under-educated people in England – and there still are, with about 51% of the population leaving school at 16, and doing very little for the two years or so preceding that. The difference is that, in the past, people who were uneducated were well aware of the fact and tended to keep in the background. Now we live in the age of the happy amateur. The most popular singers have entirely untrained voices. Many performers in all categories are self-taught. Young, successful business people have often made it to the top despite their lack of a formal education. Many people think that this is a good thing. In the past (and even up to a point today, I hesitate to suggest), a good education was synonymous with a high social rank. The education system was part of the backbone of the class system. Nowadays, hastened by the advent of the Internet, where every man is his own publisher, some people have a tendency to dispense with help from experts and do things themselves. I would venture to suggest that people have never been so literate, in general, as they are today – despite the fact that generalisations are odious! The "lower classes" have more confidence than ever before and are daring to do things that they would once never have considered possible. I am all for a high standard of education, but I don’t think there is any innate superiority to be assumed in a person who is academic, as against one who is not. The English language, with its motley history, doesn’t contain many elements that sre entirely obvious and its spelling is a dyslexic’s nightmare. It is not an easy tool to wield. Therefore, on the whole, I feel we should be pleased that so many people are expressing themselves in public nowadays, despite the horrors they may perpetrate on the language. When people inadvertently make mistakes, we should not storm and rant at them, but help them to avoid such mistakes in the future – at least if they’re interested to do so. I suppose that’s why such a forum as this exists. I find the tone of most of the contributors to be encouraging and understanding, which is how it should be. Sue

Jeff, Jan 19th, 2005 – 3:22 AM Re: Re: Bumper Sticker
Thanks Tony, but I thought there were four stages for the aging man. First you forget names; next faces; then to pull your zip up, and finally to pull it down. Not at stage four yet. Jeff.
TfS, Jan 19th, 2005 – 10:02 AM
Jeff, I like that. Worthy of inclusion in Forum Reference Extracts which is now done.
Jeff, Jan 20th, 2005 – 2:25 AM
Tony, I feel as though I have been awarded the OBE or somesuch. Now I know your humour type, how about the comment of Mike Tyson, referring to his next opponent? “I’m going to knock him into a Bolivian.” OK, so it’s a repeat, but Paul liked it a few months back, before you graced the APS Forum with your presence. Jeff.
Paul Doherty, Jan 20th, 2005 – 2:26 AM
> Paul liked it a few months back < And I still do!

Tone, Jan 14th, 2005 – 9:35 PM Re: waterstone’s
Paul, … Which reminds me of the (apocryphal) quotation credited to Tricky Dicky, "If two wrongs don’t make a right – try three!" Tone

Twoddle, Jan 14th, 2005 – 10:52 PM Re: Jones’s
Twoodle, and touched forelock),Thank goodness we didn’t get one of your typos there! Yes, wouldn’t it have been awful if I’d typed "flintlock".

Twoddle, Jan 9th, 2005 – 4:27 PM Re: Concerned
Twoddle Walks Because He Cares.
There followed an article about the charity, about my walk, and, worst of all, about me! I had serious and harsh words with my acquaintance about such a gross breach of confidentiality, she having been the culprit who sent the article to the paper. It didn’t stop me marrying her a few years later, though.

osric, Jan 9th, 2005 – 11:53 AM Re: Concerned
I had to help moaning, whingeing, avaricious, ungrateful, mendacious, vicious, cheating, thick, selfish members of the Great British Unwashed get what they wanted, often at the expense of others
You weren’t a tory whip circa. 1992, were you? osric

victorbravo, Dec 22nd, 2004 – 4:15 PM Re: Apostrophes not really important
‘There are more important things to worry about than correct use of apostrophes,’ and of course they’re right. But this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t bother, does it?
You might try another analogy as well. While driving a car, the most important thing is making sure the car stays on the road and avoids hazards. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore picky things such as changing the oil or checking the brakes. Some of us apostrophe pedants are simply mechanics (amateur or otherwise) who are driven by a desire to maintain the operation of the language. As for esoteric rules, I certainly have my pets. Having them exposed and questioned is part of what makes this forum fun. I understand, however, that in other settings, people may be uninterested. I try to temper my obsessive enthusiasm. Nevertheless, my marker is never far from hand. Like Ms. Truss, I edit signs and notices when I see blatant abuse (with permission of the owner in all cases). It’s a just cause, even if it won’t solve all the world’s problems.

Geoff, Dec 21st, 2004 – 12:57 AM Re: Christmas is taboo in America
I did say I had made my only comment on this subject, but I thought this e-mail I received this morning was rather amusing.
To my family and friends……. From me (“the wishor”) to you (“the wishee”) please accept without obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, politically correct, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the summer solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I wish you a financially successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2005, but with due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures or sects, and having regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform or sexual preference of the wishee. By accepting this greeting you agree with, and are bound by, these terms that:- * This greeting is subject to further clarification or withdrawal at the sole discretion of the wishor. * This greeting is freely transferable provided that no alteration shall be made to the original greeting and that the proprietary rights of the wishor are acknowledged. * This greeting implies no promise by the wishor to actually implement any of the wishes. * This greeting may not be enforceable in certain jurisdictions and/or the restrictions herein may not be binding upon certain wishees in certain jurisdictions and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wishor. This greeting is warranted to perform as reasonably may be expected within the usual application of good tidings, for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first. And finally, best wishes for Christmas and 2005.

Jim, Dec 20th, 2004 – 5:59 AM THANK YOU!!!
I ran across this website while entertaining myself looking up some of the oddments of language, and just want to express a hearty and heart-felt THANK YOU!!! The apostrophe has become so abused and misused that it really needs some bucking up. There are a huge number of educators that should be whipped for allowing such misuse. And no, I’m not foaming at the mouth…just drooling a bit. Jim
Paul Doherty, Dec 20th, 2004 – 3:00 PM
Hi Jim, thanks for the kind words. We argue a lot here whether it’s just an education issue — non-standard use of apostrophes seems quite common on shop signs, packaging, in printed publications and on TV as well, so it’s difficult for people to learn the right way to use apostrophes if they see plenty examples of the wrong way all around them. Parents have a part to play as well, of course, not just teachers. In fact, I find it heartening that so many people do care. For all the people here who post “get a life” there must be ten more who ask “which is right?” on complicated issues. It seems to me that most people do see the value of clear grammar, and just need guidance. Sometimes the nit-picking and disputed details can obscure that. It seems to me that, in the UK at least, it is now common to teach the basics of standard grammar and punctuation. I’m not sure whether that was always the case in the past. Perhaps we’re about to see a generation who can spell and punctuate better than their parents?
Sandi, Dec 20th, 2004 – 3:43 PM
Hello, Jim and welcome You will soon see that our discussions range far and wide across all aspects of english usage, grammar, punctuation and so on. It’s a lot of fun, especially when we jibe at each other, take the mickey, from time to time. None of it is taken personally (except by, thankfully, a rare few who add an element of entertainment). Looking forward to your contributions.

John Dickinson, Dec 12th, 2004 – 8:27 PM Being New
Having visited and posted for the first time in the last few days, may I ask some general questions? Is it worth adding comments to previous posts that may have been here for a long time, or would it be better to send a new message on a similar theme? My impression is that the people who contribute to this site are friendly and funny, and not the sad pedantic misfits that some others think you would be to concern yourself with details such as the use of the apostrophe. Am I right?
Tone, Dec 12th, 2004 – 10:07 PM
Right on, John. You said it in spades! Tone
Twoddle, Dec 12th, 2004 – 10:54 PM
John, Is it worth adding comments to previous posts that may have been here for a long time, or would it be better to send a new message on a similar theme?
The forum holds 250 messages; when a new message is posted, the oldest reply disappears (which takes five or six days). The original message of each thread won’t vanish until all of its replies have gone, but adding new replies to an old thread often means that the continuity of the thread disintegrates, because the intermediate replies have gone, leaving the first message and the final few replies. That’s a long-winded way of saying “yes” to your question. If a thread is beginning to age, it’s sometimes better to start a new one on the same.

Twoddle, Dec 11th, 2004 – 12:34 PM Message to New Contributors: Threaded and Board Styles
As we’ve some new (and hopefully permanent) contributors, I can do no better than to reproduce some sound advice from a paragraph which Mildr posted on another thread.
This board operates in two forms: board style and thread style. Most of the regulars eventually realise the error of their ways if they use the threaded version, in which replies are posted directly below the entry to which they refer.
Those of us (the majority) who use the board style tend to whiz down to the bottom of the entries, assuming that they are in chronological order. We therefore miss recent entries posted under the thread system, as they appear part way through the board style/list! Clear as mud!
Basic message – please, if you want everyone to read your offerings, use the board version.
The facility to switch between them is near the top of the page.

Mildr, Dec 10th, 2004 – 11:07 AM Re: Apostrophes and plurality
I’m not sure what you mean, but the regulars among us are keen to point out that the APS site is not ‘owned’ by us.
This forum is just a place to discuss ideas and matters relating to the apostrophe (although we stray to other points of language as well). Although the forum can be accessed from the APS page, it has no strong links.