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Sunday, 20 June 2010

Banging My Head Against A Brick Wall.

The abuse of the English language is increasingly making my brain hurt. I’m sure I’ve had this rant before. If I haven’t had it here, then certainly I’ve had it elsewhere. Using completely inappropriate/out of context words is one thing which makes me cry inwardly; but the flagrant disregard for the correct usage of the apostrophe and the inability of some people to use a basic spell check is something that almost causes me physical pain. Yes, I know I’m a little bit of a grammar Nazi, I should chillax– it’s just a bottle of shampoo, or it’s just a sign above a shop in a town which I’ll probably never find myself in again…

But that is not the point!

If you’re unsure if you should use to or too, or their, there, or they’re- then for the love of Samuel Johnson get a dictionary or something and look it up!! The guy didn’t spend nine years of his life writing it so you can use it as a paperweight.

The apostrophe: You’ve doubtless heard of the word – have a vague idea of what it looks like… you know, that little comma type thing floating in the air… but do you know what it’s actually for? It seems that a vast majority of people don’t.

Even some copywriters, apparently.

I raided the cleaning cupboard at home because my mug had left a coffee stain on my windowsill. I pulled out a bottle of stain remover and checked the back to make sure it would be safe to use on that surface. This is what I was confronted with:

“DIRECTIONS: Can be diluted 1 parts to 20 of water. Use neat on stubborn stain’s, safe to use on any type of surface. Spray on wipe off after a few second’s, leave stubborn stains to soak for a short time. Test an inconspicuous area for colour fastness before use ”

How, how, HOW can someone who makes that many mistakes in one paragraph consisting of only 47 words, (numbers don’t count as words) be employed to do that job? I don’t pretend to be perfect, I know I still make some mistakes with my own grammar, but these are mistakes my classmates would have noticed and pointed out when we were in primary school at the age of seven. Do people no longer teach grammar in schools? It is one of the most basic things – grammar is like the hangar which the English language hangs from like a coat. Without it, it is a crumpled mess on the floor.

Directions: Can be diluted 1 PART to 20 PARTS of water. Use neat on stubborn STAINS **WITH NO APOSTROPHE** **FULL STOP** Safe to use on any type of surface **FULL STOP** Spray on AND wipe off after a few SECONDS **WITH NO APOSTROPHE** **FULL STOP OR SEMICOLON**  **CAPITAL L->** Leave stubborn stains to soak for a LITTLE LONGER. Test ON an inconspicuous area for COLOURFASTNESS  **WHICH, F.Y.I, IS ONE WORD** before use **FULL STOP**

The apostrophe has been around for hundreds years. Some academics even suggest that it was around when the Saxons were.  It is not like it’s something new that has just been introduced to the English language that we are having to get to grips with. It should be so ingrained into us that it comes naturally. So how come so many people manage to get it SO WRONG?! It is not rocket science!



The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Grammar

English Grammar for the Utterly Confused

Eats, Shoots and Leaves 

Wikipedia  article on the apostrophe

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