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Picture of arnie
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We've mentioned the Apostrophe Protection Society before. Alas, it appears at the moment to be offline. Let us hope it's a temporary problem.

Their Message Board is still online, however, as is the Wiki published by on of its regulars, Paul Doherty, at http://pdoc.co.uk/eng-lang/

Paul has put up a survey on linguistic "pet peeves" in an attempt to find out what really annoys linguistic pedants like those who frequent the APS message board (and of course like us). The address of the survey is http://pdoc.co.uk/eng-lang/survey.php

Do take the survey; it's good fun!

This message has been edited. Last edited by: arnie,


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Further to the above post, the APS is back online after having problems with their server. Their address is http://www.apostrophe.fsnet.co.uk/


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I haven't bothered to post to the APS after the problem with trolls and the ineffective and shabby way in which that matter was dealt with.

Is it worth going there again?


Richard English
 
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I lurk from time to time but haven't posted for ages after a post of mine was deleted without explanation. All the same the standard of debate is pretty high and they deal with trolls by ignoring them completely. Paul posts regularly. It's still a bit one note for my taste as discussion almost always centres around punctuation and is nowhere near as wide ranging as here.


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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My feeling is similar to Bob's. The regulars tend to pull each other's posts to pieces, picking up any real or perceived errors in punctuation, spelling and style. This is done in a spirit of fun, but it doesn't look like that to a newcomer; a couple of new posters recently have mentioned that they were worried about sending a message in case they'd made any mistakes. In fact, they would have normally have overlooked minor errors from newbies, but that is not obvious.

I check the board pretty regularly, about two or three times a week, and make occasional posts.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: arnie,


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Thanks, arnie. That was fun!

Does anyone know if that Paul Doherty is the same person as the Paul who used to post here? I miss him!

I thought some of the examples were a bit petty, such as not ending the sentence with a preposition or splitting infinitives. Haven't we gotten over those by now?

One of my pet peeves is run-on sentences, and I noted that he had one in his selections ("I use it myself, it's fine.") I suppose those who are more liberal grammarians wouldn't mind that, but I wouldn't use it.
 
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This is a metapeeve.

Irregardless of y'all's pet peeves there still out their.

God give us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change.

My cousin, the concrete expert, inspired me when she said, "I know when most people say cement, they mean concrete, so I just accept that. There's no point in discussing words if the meaning is clear."
 
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Quote "...I know when most people say cement, they mean concrete, so I just accept that...."

At the Amberley Chalk Pits Museum, in the Concrete display, they have a concrete canoe - just to prove the versility of the material!

You can see details here http://www.amberleymuseum.co.uk/index2.htm


Richard English
 
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The inspiration for Paul putting up that questionnaire was a post on the APS message board asking regulars to post their pet peeves. Many of them have displayed bees in their bonnets about particular areas, particularly of style, and some good fun is had by posting messages that set them off on a rant against their particular peeve.

Some do still cling to the "rules" that say splitting infinitives and ending sentences with a preposition are verboten. Another is the use of the Oxford/Harvard comma. A couple of regulars are great evangelists for this, and try to drag it into discussions at every opportunity. This is, of course, purely a matter of style.

The idea of the questionnaire is to get some idea of the relative importance accorded by readers to the various solecisms listed.

As a member of the Semi Colon Preservation Society I'd probably use "I use it myself; it's fine.", but if it were one of the sentences used in the questionnaire I'd give it a "I use it myself, it's fine." ranking.

BTW, yes, Paul Doherty is the same PaulD who used to post here.


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We've mentioned the Apostrophe Protection Society before. Their Message Board is still online.
BTW, yes, Paul Doherty is the same PaulD who used to post here.

Yesterday Paul posted there, "I have just come across this most amusing letter to the Guardian," with a link. The letter is the same one that was mentioned in yesterday's Word of the Day, and was posted on that board within minutes after it appeared here.

I would suspect this board, or the word of the day mailings, is the source of Paul's post. Does anyone know him well enough to suggest that credit should be given?
 
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Nothing irritates me more than to have people write or post about something that they have gotten from somewhere else without citing their source. I try very hard to cite my sources when I post, such as from a QT column or my "logophile friend" or the "New Yorker," whatever. I can't understand why others don't do that. For example, I know that QT has published things in his column that he has gotten from our word of the day. We cite him; why doesn't he cite us? I read a couple of other word sites, though I don't post on others. On one board, someone had taken a our post from Ammon Shea about the original source for "epicaricacy," citing it as his own! How arrogant! I sent him an e-mail asking him to cite us, but he refused. I thought about logging in myself, giving credit to Ammon Shea and wordcraft, but in the end I decided to be the bigger person. It would have embarrassed him.

Still, I just can't understand people who don't give credit to their sources. Now, in all fairness to this particular incident, perhaps Paul's post was a coincidence, and he didn't get it from wordcraft.
 
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Kalleh,

You just now used one of my "pet peeves," which is a popular form of hyperbole.
quote:
Nothing irritates me more than ......"


When I hear this I am often tempted to say, "How about a sharp stick in the eye?"

JK = just kidding

(I've spent ages and ages wondering about the meaning of hyperbole)
 
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Hello everyone.

Seeing a few familiar names on my "pet peeves" survey, I thought someone must have mentioned it here, so I thought I'd pop across to say "thank you".

I see some of you think I should have mentioned my source for the Guardian letter (I did get it from the Word of the Day e-mail), but I confess it simply didn't occur to me. The source is the Guardian, after all, which I did cite -- it didn't occur to me that one should cite one's methods of discovery. Should I mention Google when I find a useful page by googling?

Anyway, my apologies if anyone was offended; I do mention the Wordcraft board from time to time, and shall make a point of doing so again soon.

I quite miss the chatter here -- it's of a different type than the APS board, no doubt about it. The APS attracts the sort of person who is very sure what the rules are, and thinks everyone should obey them! They're not bad people, they just haven't (generally) thought about language much, and so can be quite shocked to find that the "rules" may not be what they thought they were, or that there can be other, educated, points-of-view.

As Bob (I think) said, it's quite one-note, and people there are just starting on the journey that most here made many years ago. Nothing wrong with that, though.

Best wishes to all of you, and I'm glad to see you're all getting along well without me. I must make the effort to pop back more often, but there's too much to read here, really!

Kind regards,
Paul.
 
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You just now used one of my "pet peeves," which is a popular form of hyperbole.

Sorry, Jerry! I see your point.

Should I mention Google when I find a useful page by googling?

No, of course not. That would be going too far, and I realize there are gray areas here. At any rate, it is great to see you here again! I have really missed you and Bear. I hope you do make that effort to pop back more often! Wink
 
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Quote "...I hope you do make that effort to pop back more often! ..."

Indeed. We don't have too many folks from Surrey on this board.


Richard English
 
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Thanks Richard.

The survey I created -- in which I see some familiar names from here -- now has various ways of analysing the data. It's not even remotely scientific, but may be interesting.

Incidentally, I hadn't realised the survey was limiting the respondent's name to five characters -- now fixed.

There's a page with links to the various analyses here.
 
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I think it would be interesting to know if some people call the most egregious errors (e.g. the possessive 'its' with an apostrophe) good grammar.
 
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Well, Kalleh, the survey was created for the pedants at the APS to see which particular errors/matters of style entangled their knickers the most. As members of the APS they will know the rules relating to apostrophes. It is unlikely, though possible, that Joe Public will happen on the site and decide to take the survey, so the sample is skewed to towards those who "know the rules".


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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
I think it would be interesting to know if some people call the most egregious errors (e.g. the possessive 'its' with an apostrophe) good grammar.
That's why I made one possible rating "It is correct English". Only one person (respondent 32, who had some very odd answers -- I suspect the choices were just made at random) gave that rating to "The dog wagged it's tail". So I think most respondents know the rules -- which proves nothing, because, as Arnie says, it's a very skewed sample.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by pauld:
The APS attracts the sort of person who is very sure what the rules are, and thinks everyone should obey them! They're not bad people, they just haven't (generally) thought about language much, and so can be quite shocked to find that the "rules" may not be what they thought they were, or that there can be other, educated, points-of-view.
Having read that again after a few days, I think I should qualify it a bit. It certainly doesn't apply to most of the regulars there, who generally are amusing and laid-back, but the board does attract quite a lot of passing traffic, and new joiners quite reasonably tend to be looking for, or complaining that people don't follow, the "rules". It is, naturally and intentionally, limited in its scope -- it is the "Apostrophe Protection Society" (which doesn't really exist) after all!
 
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quote:
Originally posted by pauld:
(which doesn't really exist)


It doesn't ?
Next you'll be telling me there's no Santa, it was my mom not the tooth fairy who used to leave money under my pillow and that CJ is a figment of my imagination.

I took your pet peeves survey and posted as my additional pet peeve

"People who can't pronounce 'pronunciation'."


I won't say which of my colleagues it referes to in case any of them wander into the board and see this.


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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Okay then Paul, don't you wonder how many laypeople (non-grammar enthusiasts) would think some of the most egregious errors are good grammar? I would love to see this posted on the Web and see the responses.

BTW, I read the first sentence about the dog wagging its tail, and I completely overlooked that apostrophe to begin with. Roll Eyes It wasn't until I realized that they all had errors that I went back, and quite abashedly, saw the misplaced apostrophe and changed it.
 
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I missed the incorrect spelling of barbecue, I have to admit.

But I have no problems when I want to deliberately split an infinite


Richard English
 
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I don't know if there is a specific rhetorical device which is splitting an infinitive, but "to boldly go" certainly has a better ring to it than "to go boldly".
 
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My pet linguistics peeve is calling imaginary solecisms (like splitting infinitives), punctuation and pronunciation errors, and spelling mistakes errors in grammar.

On splitting infinitives, I can't imagine why people get into such a tizzy about it. Low blood sugar I suppose. There are no historical, rhetorical, grammatical, or logical reasons to deprecate split infinitives. None at all.
 
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jheem and I agree on something! Wink I split infinitives with the best of them, and I agree with Sean with his example.
 
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jheem and I agree on something!

Huzzah! Break out the Veuve Cliquot. I say that splitting infinitives is more desirable than splinting 'em back together again. To go boldly indeed! My pet theory about what upsets the lg mavens about splitting an infinitive is that they somehow feel that an infinitive is a whole unit as it is in Greek or Latin. Whereas it originated as a prepositional phrase. The Romans actually enjoyed splitting a preposition from its attendant noun and interposing some other words.
 
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When I took the survey my comments were:
quote:
People who twist their words into knots to avoid at all costs splitting an infinitive, ending a sentence with a preposition, or starting the sentence with a conjunction.


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Split infinitives are almost the least disliked usage on my little survey:

Your a prize winner! 83%
We ordered three video's. 80.4%
The dog wagged it's tail. 77.7%
I had to give away the childrens' shoes. 72.2%
I should of thought that it was obvious. 68.1%
The CD's were for sale. 67.9%
The Jones's always put on a good show. 66.1%
The boat was laying in about six feet of water. 64.7%
I wouldn't do it as a matter of principal. 62.5%
We heard today, that it had been cancelled. 61.5%
The boss' pay rise was completely unjustified. 61.1%
I was stood in the kitchen when the doorbell rang. 59.5%
I implied from her body language that she was angry with me. 58.6%
This checkout for 6 or less items. 52.9%
Try and answer all questions. 51%
The play was different to what he'd expected. 50%
This checkout for 6 items or less. 49%
Remember to dot your i's. 45%
The only things in the cupboard were jam, honey and a lemon. 42.9%
He went outside ......... and found it was raining! 42.6%
The enormity of the task facing the rescuers was daunting. 41%
People were not keen on any more referendums. 40.8%
I bought a waxed dog jacket. 37.5%
We were looking forward to the barbeque. 36.8%
To simply state the obvious is too easy. 32.8%
I left the shop without the things I had paid for. 31.8%

This is after 29 substantive respndents.

http://pdoc.co.uk/test/sorted2.php
 
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It's a bit scary. It'd be interesting to take a non-self-selected survey of members of the public at large, and ask them if they saw anything wrong with those.

Large numbers would notice punctuation errors like "it's" misused; quite a few would notice the wrong "principal" being used. Most of them, I'm sure, would say no, there was nothing wrong with many of them, and (quite correctly) look in blank amazement at people who suggested there was.

I mean, "I left the shop without the things I had paid for"? Huh? Does the 32% mean that a staggering one third of the self-selected sample went Oh heavens to Betsy no, I always say "I left the shop without the things for which I had paid"?
 
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quote:
Originally posted by aput:
Does the 32% mean that a staggering _one third_ of the self-selected sample went Oh heavens to Betsy no, I always say "I left the shop without the things for which I had paid"?
No, it's a simple average. If you go to the page and click on the "ref" next to any item you can see a breakdown. In the case of that question, 23 respondents didn't mind it at all, 4 people found it "mildly annoying" or "irritating", and one each rated it "very irritating" and "drives me mad". I don't pretend to understand!
 
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Thanks, Paul, for that summary. Can you imagine somebody being "driven mad" by, "I left the shop without the things I had paid for"...instead of that absurd alternative that aput provided?

I will say, wordcraft has helped me to be a bit more relaxed with my writing, both in terms of "evolving meanings" and arnie's 3 examples:

"splitting an infinitive, ending a sentence with a preposition, or starting the sentence with a conjunction."

[Now, I must remember to use exactly 3 dots in my ellipsis! Wink]
 
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Quote "...splitting an infinitive, ending a sentence with a preposition, or starting the sentence with a conjunction..."

And I agree; a preposition is something it is quite permissable to occasionally end a sentence with.


Richard English
 
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quote:
a preposition is something it is quite permissable to occasionally end a sentence with.
Clever!
 
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quote:
a preposition is something it is quite permissable to occasionally end a sentence with.


I think Winston Churchill said on this subject "This is the sort of nonsense up with which I will not put."
 
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Would puffery qualify in this regard?

(OED: The practice of the ‘puffer’; inflated laudation, esp. by way of advertisement. Now chiefly U.S.)

Example: <https://store6.esellerate.net/store/checkout/CustomLayout.aspx?s=STR490430688&pc=&page=OnePageMoreInfo.htm&SkuRefNum=SKU5284304668/>

Quoted here in full:
"Process — $25.00
Process, Jumsoft's fresh face in the tired throng of outlining applications, is destined to draw a crowd all of its own. Its sublime, user-friendly Aqua interface makes outlining with Mac OS X a treat. But that's only the start of this all-round wonderful experience. The end result is more remarkable still: Process doesn't just make it simpler to organize your ideas and projects; it has a favorable effect on the outcome of all your planning that is nothing short of subliminal."

------
 
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The problem with some puffery (including this piece) is that the writers get so carried away with their verbiage that they lose sight of accuracy.

"...it has a favorable effect on the outcome of all your planning that is nothing short of subliminal..."

What, in the name of reason, is that supposed to mean?


Richard English
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Richard English:
The problem with some puffery (including this piece) is that the writers get so carried away with their verbiage that they lose sight of accuracy.

"...it has a favorable effect on the outcome of all your planning that is nothing short of subliminal..."

What, in the name of reason, is that supposed to mean?


I'd guess that it means the opposite of what was intended (which may have been "sublime") and that it's saying that although there is an improvment it's in your planning ability it's so small as to be not even noticable by the conscious mind.


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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The quote given by Hank seems to have originated on the Jumsoft Web page at http://www.jumsoft.com/process/ where there is yet more purple prose. This is a paean of praise to computer software fergawdssake! How geeky is that?


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Pretty geeky! Big Grin
 
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I am slightly surprised that the authors don't offer users an orgasm every time they use their program.


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If I can digress from the tantalizing idea of a proffered orgasm with well written code.... (deedle deedle la la la)

I've been reading this string with more than a bit of interest. As a linguist I am acutely aware of how rules for syntax and grammar can and often do interfere with the natural evolution of spoken language if applied too strictly. They also interfere with the evolution of the written language. However, written syntax evolves much slower than oral syntax.

I took a very careful look at my own usage and discovered that while I am quite willing to be sloppy and/or casual in what I say, I am much more rigid in my writing. As an example, I rarely if ever end a written sentence with a preposition; and while I split infinitives with glee when speaking, I go to great lengths to avoid it in my writing. (hm.... can we say anal?)

However, I note that I and others I know to be equally careful in their writing am far less rigid when I write on the internet. This is not just confined to email; I am more casual in my blog and on this board. But it is somewhere inbetween the loose oral syntax and the very tight written word. (eek! I started that sentence with a conjunction. Wink Big Grin )
 
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Some of us are surprised to see a linguist giving any serious thought to "split infiinitives."

To consciously and deliberately separate the "to" from the infinitive verb is easy and sometimes convenient in English, while in Latin the "splitting of an infinitive" is impossible. The Rule was fabricated by people who thought there was something sacred about Latin and that the grammar and syntax rules of that language should therefore govern all languages. Nonsense!
 
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Yeah, I know. Silly isn't it? I think the split infinitive rule was pounded into my head somewhere in grade school, and I've had a very hard time getting it out.

Do keep in mind that I'm a "psycho"-linguist. Wink
 
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I took a very careful look at my own usage and discovered that while I am quite willing to be sloppy and/or casual in what I say, I am much more rigid in my writing.

I do think Jo makes a good point here. I also think the "casualness" can be accepted in posts. Many of us have good ideas when replying, but are hurried because of our busy lives. There may be a misspelling or a typo or even a (horrors!) grammatical error, all done inadvertently...and yet sometimes we get jumped on for it. While doing that once in awhile in good fun is fine, I hate to see it on a regular basis.
 
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The Rule was fabricated by people who thought there was something sacred about Latin and that the grammar and syntax rules of that language should therefore govern all languages. Nonsense!

Here, here. Even though, Greek and Sanskrit, two of Latin's cousins, allow verbs to be split from their preverbs: tmesis. (And German.)
 
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