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Does Anybody Care? (About spelling)

Possum 10 March 2009 83

Does anybody care if a sign is spelt incorrectly?

The agents for the units have responded to this, saying the sign will not be changed.

[ED – this sort of attention to detail really inspires confidence in the builders eh?]


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83 Responses to Does Anybody Care? (About spelling)
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Catty Catty 12:58 pm 08 Nov 09

RatsNest said :

Jivrashia said :

youami said :

Language is flexible – it is worth defending (and creating) shades of meaning to keep communication rich; but spelling will change under force of numbers, as it always has.

Even those that say ‘then’ (which is used to refer to a subsequent event) when they mean ‘than’ (which is used to compare two or more things)?
And the inability to determine the difference between ‘effect’ and ‘affect’?
And the common mistake of using ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’?
And the list goes on and on… our language has gone to the dogs.

In regards to the ‘then vs than’ ‘effect vs affect’. I have a mate who cannot hear the difference between the e and a sounds in many words. I guess where he grew up the differences weren’t common phonemes. Gets a bit irritating when he is talking about various mates and I can’t tell if he is talking about Ellen or Allen.

The inability to distinguish “then” and “than” points to a complete ignorance of either grammer or usage. I even saw it used in the Canberra Times this morning, where its use made the comment completely confusing, as I did not know if the columnist was advocating doing one thing instead of another (which I think was the intent), or, as was written, doing one thing and then doing another.

youami youami 11:13 am 13 Mar 09

Emlyn Ward said :

Holden Caulfield said :

Perhaps while you were at the library you should have taken the time to consult a dictionary. Like you, I prefer the spelling “enquiry”, however, the copy of The Macquarie Concise Dictionary on my desk lists both spellings of “enquiry” and “inquiry” as acceptable.

Also, can you please post some reference to your apostrophe theory. Sounds like a load of cobblers to me.

In “enquiry” and “inquiry” we have two distinct words with distinct spellings and distinct meanings.

The fact that the illiterate among us have conflated the two words’ meanings under one spelling is hardly a justification for impoverishing our language like this – dictionaries other than the Macquarie novelty dictionary get it right.

As for apostrophes and plurals of acronyms – surprisingly, even Wikipedia gets this right:
“Multiple options arise when initialisms are spelled with periods and are pluralized: for example, compact discs may become C.D.’s, C.D.s, CD’s, or CDs.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acronym_and_initialism

The apostrophe-less version of pluralised acronyms is a modern development and is not a rule, but rather a fashion.

The bottom line is that you can’t tell somebody that the plural of TV as “TV’s” is wrong – it isn’t.

I think I have to agree to disagree. I do find it amusing that you base your argument on style and apostrophe use against Wikipedia! I mean do you realise that it is a site populated, edited, and updated by anyone and everyone, literate or otherwise. Even the references on the website are not definitive by any means. Wikipedia is not an official source of information by any standards.

And yes, I await the posts asking how I support my argument. But I will not be Wikipedia!

RatsNest RatsNest 9:26 pm 12 Mar 09

Jivrashia said :

youami said :

Language is flexible – it is worth defending (and creating) shades of meaning to keep communication rich; but spelling will change under force of numbers, as it always has.

Even those that say ‘then’ (which is used to refer to a subsequent event) when they mean ‘than’ (which is used to compare two or more things)?
And the inability to determine the difference between ‘effect’ and ‘affect’?
And the common mistake of using ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’?
And the list goes on and on… our language has gone to the dogs.

In regards to the ‘then vs than’ ‘effect vs affect’. I have a mate who cannot hear the difference between the e and a sounds in many words. I guess where he grew up the differences weren’t common phonemes. Gets a bit irritating when he is talking about various mates and I can’t tell if he is talking about Ellen or Allen.

RatsNest RatsNest 9:20 pm 12 Mar 09

Holden Caulfield said :

Haha, I had a feeling the Macquarie would get poo-pooed.

Used to like the Oxford dictionary for pedantic disputes, but have thrown it out after discovering they accept ‘unputdownable’ as a word. Disgraceful!

Holden Caulfield Holden Caulfield 6:19 pm 12 Mar 09

Emlyn Ward said :

Holden Caulfield said :

Perhaps while you were at the library you should have taken the time to consult a dictionary. Like you, I prefer the spelling “enquiry”, however, the copy of The Macquarie Concise Dictionary on my desk lists both spellings of “enquiry” and “inquiry” as acceptable.

Also, can you please post some reference to your apostrophe theory. Sounds like a load of cobblers to me.

In “enquiry” and “inquiry” we have two distinct words with distinct spellings and distinct meanings.

The fact that the illiterate among us have conflated the two words’ meanings under one spelling is hardly a justification for impoverishing our language like this – dictionaries other than the Macquarie novelty dictionary get it right.

As for apostrophes and plurals of acronyms – surprisingly, even Wikipedia gets this right:
“Multiple options arise when initialisms are spelled with periods and are pluralized: for example, compact discs may become C.D.’s, C.D.s, CD’s, or CDs.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acronym_and_initialism

The apostrophe-less version of pluralised acronyms is a modern development and is not a rule, but rather a fashion.

The bottom line is that you can’t tell somebody that the plural of TV as “TV’s” is wrong – it isn’t.

Haha, I had a feeling the Macquarie would get poo-pooed.

Thanks for the follow up.

p1 p1 4:55 pm 12 Mar 09

All these problems could be solved with good proof reading. There is no need for smelling piss takes.

GB GB 2:44 pm 12 Mar 09

“CD’s” as a plural might be correct by some rulings, and have some historical basis, but that doesn’t make it useful. And the historical argument is of marginal usefulness anyway: when there were a few or a few dozen acronyms in common use, punctuation of each could just be treated as a special case. Now we have millions, and many people’s writing is peppered with them (especially in Canberra), so a regularisation and simplification becomes more useful — and also more doable, as many of these writers work under some kind of standard.

I look forward to a time when apostrophes are only used for possession; and possibly to resolve awkwardness such as the plural of “RAS”.

Unfortunately, the tendency among less literate people seems to be towards more punctuation, not less.

Meanwhile, I go with caf’s logic.

I do care about spelling, but I think there are more important communication battles.

caf caf 9:20 am 12 Mar 09

Emlyn Ward: I find it easier to use “CDs” than to try and explain why “CD’s” is correct but “tomato’s” isn’t.

GB GB 8:34 am 12 Mar 09

I fight to maintain richness of language, and so I resist conflation and dumbing down. But spelling and punctuation really don’t matter so much, even though they irk my inner pedant and can introduce new confusions.

English spelling is already hopelessly irregular, our punctuation is wonderfully creative and flexible, and yet meaning has survived.

And language is not static.

Emlyn Ward said :

Even those that say ‘then’ (which is used to refer to a subsequent event) when they mean ‘than’ (which is used to compare two or more things)?
And the inability to determine the difference between ‘effect’ and ‘affect’?
And the common mistake of using ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’?
And the list goes on and on… our language has gone to the dogs.

Most of the above are usage issues, not spelling ones. In fact, people seem not to misspell ‘than’ and ‘effect’, but rather to misuse them in speech, then transcribe this correctly into writing.

Examples similar to the above can be found at any point over the last few hundred years. Some of them have led to what I (and you probably) now regard as English.

The dogs are within, and can produce both glorious new language and appalling deadening of the intellect.

Emlyn Ward Emlyn Ward 11:41 pm 11 Mar 09

Holden Caulfield said :

Perhaps while you were at the library you should have taken the time to consult a dictionary. Like you, I prefer the spelling “enquiry”, however, the copy of The Macquarie Concise Dictionary on my desk lists both spellings of “enquiry” and “inquiry” as acceptable.

Also, can you please post some reference to your apostrophe theory. Sounds like a load of cobblers to me.

In “enquiry” and “inquiry” we have two distinct words with distinct spellings and distinct meanings.

The fact that the illiterate among us have conflated the two words’ meanings under one spelling is hardly a justification for impoverishing our language like this – dictionaries other than the Macquarie novelty dictionary get it right.

As for apostrophes and plurals of acronyms – surprisingly, even Wikipedia gets this right:
“Multiple options arise when initialisms are spelled with periods and are pluralized: for example, compact discs may become C.D.’s, C.D.s, CD’s, or CDs.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acronym_and_initialism

The apostrophe-less version of pluralised acronyms is a modern development and is not a rule, but rather a fashion.

The bottom line is that you can’t tell somebody that the plural of TV as “TV’s” is wrong – it isn’t.

Deckard Deckard 7:42 pm 11 Mar 09
Deckard Deckard 7:40 pm 11 Mar 09

youami said :

Deckard said :

youami said :

But to make things worse I have seen Canberra street signs in Civic with the word ‘Authorized’… aaarrgghhh!

Did you know that ‘ize’ is the preferred option used by the Oxford English Dictionary.

No way?! Is it the death of English? Maybe we should all become Americans 🙁

I was disappointed and as shocked as you youami. But it’s no recent thing. In fact, according to wikipedia it’s only recently that they actually included the ‘ise’ as an alternate spelling.

Our Macquarie dictionary doesn’t let us down though 🙂

Holden Caulfield Holden Caulfield 5:28 pm 11 Mar 09

Emlyn Ward said :

On another note I recall visiting the State Library in Sydney once and spotting a customer service desk decorated with a sign marked “INQUIRIES”. Naturally I approached the librarian and asked her if her sign was supposed to mean “ENQUIRIES”. When she failed to admit the error, I informed her that it was shameful that a library of all places could display such shoddy usage of the English language.

Perhaps while you were at the library you should have taken the time to consult a dictionary. Like you, I prefer the spelling “enquiry”, however, the copy of The Macquarie Concise Dictionary on my desk lists both spellings of “enquiry” and “inquiry” as acceptable.

Also, can you please post some reference to your apostrophe theory. Sounds like a load of cobblers to me.

Furry Jesus Furry Jesus 4:57 pm 11 Mar 09

What I wonder is why no-one bothered to check before giving the go-ahead…

astrojax astrojax 4:53 pm 11 Mar 09

And the inability to determine the difference between ‘effect’ and ‘affect’?

and so use f***ing ‘impact’ (or some variation, like ‘impacting’!!) instead – ooh, i could scream, i could.

fewer/less is another one. sheesh!

Emlyn Ward Emlyn Ward 3:39 pm 11 Mar 09

So long as brain-dead footballers earn more than teachers, many children will spurn education in favour of being boof-heads.

Jivrashia Jivrashia 3:37 pm 11 Mar 09

youami said :

Language is flexible – it is worth defending (and creating) shades of meaning to keep communication rich; but spelling will change under force of numbers, as it always has.

Even those that say ‘then’ (which is used to refer to a subsequent event) when they mean ‘than’ (which is used to compare two or more things)?
And the inability to determine the difference between ‘effect’ and ‘affect’?
And the common mistake of using ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’?
And the list goes on and on… our language has gone to the dogs.

Mr Evil Mr Evil 3:06 pm 11 Mar 09

Possum said :

Many thanks to all for your comments. I have now received a response from the agents to say that; ‘The builders will be raising this spelling error with the sign writer and I expect this sign will be changed in the near future.’
It pays to shake the tree a little.

Yay, another win for whinging on the internet!

Good work team. 🙂

Gobbo Gobbo 2:57 pm 11 Mar 09

Emlyn Ward said :

… spotting a customer service desk decorated with a sign marked “INQUIRIES”. Naturally I approached the librarian and asked her if her sign was supposed to mean “ENQUIRIES”.

They should have used Queries.

Emlyn Ward Emlyn Ward 2:38 pm 11 Mar 09

There’s also the mini-rant about apostrophes – it is incorrect to say that the plural of “TV” must be “TVs” and not “TV’s”.
Some grammar writers (and especially journalistic style-writers) have attempted to state theabove as a rule, but it simply isn’t true – in English, the plural forms of acronyms have for centuries been written with an apostrophe, as in “TV’s”.
It’s bad enough that so many people are so lazy about using apostrophes correctly without getting all anal and imposing an incorrect rule on them as well.

On another note I recall visiting the State Library in Sydney once and spotting a customer service desk decorated with a sign marked “INQUIRIES”. Naturally I approached the librarian and asked her if her sign was supposed to mean “ENQUIRIES”. When she failed to admit the error, I informed her that it was shameful that a library of all places could display such shoddy usage of the English language.
Similar signs have sprouted all over the ACT as well.

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