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Old 03-13-2013, 07:11 AM   #91
VydorScope
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
The thought occurs to me that if you were not taught how to use a common punctuation symbol correctly when you were in your early years of school, that perhaps indicates a serious failing of the educational system. I would regard teaching children the correct use of punctuation as pretty basic education. Mind you, I see posts here every day from people who are obviously well-read, but who don't appear to know the difference between "its" and "it's", so perhaps such failings are common.
For me, its and it's are an issue. It is not because I do not know the difference between its and it's, but rather I do not have the eye for detail to catch that mistake. I know that its is possessive and it's is a contraction, but when proof reading, I just tend to miss small details like that.

I am sure that is the case with many.
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Old 03-13-2013, 08:52 AM   #92
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
The thought occurs to me that if you were not taught how to use a common punctuation symbol correctly when you were in your early years of school, that perhaps indicates a serious failing of the educational system. I would regard teaching children the correct use of punctuation as pretty basic education. Mind you, I see posts here every day from people who are obviously well-read, but who don't appear to know the difference between "its" and "it's", so perhaps such failings are common.
That can be the fault of the platform from which they're posting. I've caught my iPad's spell-checker several times inappropriately changing "its" to "it's" as I write; no doubt there have been many instances I've failed to catch. It's not its most endearing quality. In fact, it infuriates me so that I now use as a tagline on all my iPad generated email, "If the grammar is screwed, blame iPad's auto-correct."
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Old 03-13-2013, 01:37 PM   #93
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Originally Posted by WT Sharpe View Post
That can be the fault of the platform from which they're posting. I've caught my iPad's spell-checker several times inappropriately changing "its" to "it's" as I write; no doubt there have been many instances I've failed to catch. It's not its most endearing quality. In fact, it infuriates me so that I now use as a tagline on all my iPad generated email, "If the grammar is screwed, blame iPad's auto-correct."
Thus why I have auto correct disabled on all of my devices (Apple and Android). It still underlines, and I still have full access to the features. I just get control over what it is replacing.
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Old 03-13-2013, 04:40 PM   #94
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Originally Posted by forsooth View Post
English grammar is difficult.

Need "friend" checker!
A "wife" checker does quite well also.
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Old 03-13-2013, 04:53 PM   #95
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If we can't have a better checker it sure would be nice to be able to put in a list of common possible faults that would show up in red or another preselected color.
For example, any sequence of i t s would show as red so we would be made aware of it. Maybe even s ' and ' s also. And others as well.
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Old 03-13-2013, 05:06 PM   #96
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A semicolon can be replaced with a coma or a period in most cases and the phrasing/meaning would still be correct.
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Old 03-13-2013, 07:46 PM   #97
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
A semicolon can be replaced with a coma or a period in most cases and the phrasing/meaning would still be correct.
If you have two independent clauses joined by a semi-colon - and that is the more accepted grammatical use for a semi-colon - then one cannot simply substitute the semi-colon with a comma.

An independent clause contains a subject and a verb. Substituting this grammatical division marker would result in a run-on sentence.

A period, on the other hand, can be justified if the author wishes to have a full stop at the end of a sentence; too, the choice between a period and a semi-colon is a stylistic choice.


Don

Last edited by Dr. Drib; 03-14-2013 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 03-16-2013, 02:18 PM   #98
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
A semicolon can be replaced with a coma or a period in most cases and the phrasing/meaning would still be correct.
What you're describing is a classic comma splice. It's an error which is nearly always cited by English teachers in the course (as it were) of instructing students in the art of the semicolon.

Modern/colloquial styles of writing do use comma splices and run-on sentences, but context determines the style, just as it does when detective fiction writers over-punctuate dependent clauses with full stops. To emphasize noir's exaggerated style, seasoned novelists like Jim Thompson and David Goodis routinely employed mannerisms that would be marked as incorrect in middle school. They also knew exactly what they were doing.

The point is this: a formal business letter should never use splices, run-on sentences or fragments, nor should, for that matter, an entry in an encyclopedia.

In editing informal journalistic pieces, I've even encountered hierarchies of comma splices -- those which are permitted (usually in parallel constructions) and those which immediately sound distasteful and disorganized.

A good writer with an original approach to style will often create their own sense of logic and consistency. This can affect not only punctuation but also syntax. Even the L'Académie française has had to allow exceptions for practices they'd normally dismiss as bad because writers like Proust employed them with such discrimination.

Here's a comma splice which many readers would find permissible: "The film was not merely unentertaining, it was an ordeal." We hear that and supply the *not only/but also* construction.

We would not, however, hear any implied structure in this:

"I wanted a pint of Gasoline Helmet Commemorative Ale, the bartender over there gave me side-eye and said 'We don't have any,' that's why I came in here with my jaw hanging, this place is the Baskin-Robbins of taps."

Most of us would say that the above sentence (really four sentences) is bad. But if you're reading a book by Hubert Selby and suddenly find yourself on a descending escalator of commas in place of periods, it just means the story is reaching its denouement and Selby is pitching waterfalls of commas and/or conjunctions to indicate a breathless succession of events.

Here's a quote from Last Exit to Brooklyn. Note that Selby leaves out quotation marks, too, because he doesn't want them breaking up the flow. Bennie's in lower case, of course, because it isn't being used as a name.

Quote:
They made a small pot of bouillon and danced around it dropping tablets in and chanting, bennie in the bouillon, bennie in the bouillon, whirling away the fear and boredom, giggling, popping bennie, drinking gin, toasting Georgette: Long Live THE QUEEN.
Ideally, we ought to learn how to write in all such modes. It's the stylistic equivalent of being a polyglot.

Last edited by Prestidigitweeze; 03-23-2013 at 03:57 PM.
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Old 03-23-2013, 06:20 AM   #99
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A semicolon can be replaced with a coma or a period in most cases and the phrasing/meaning would still be correct.
Well, I would disagree about replacing semi-colons with commas; they are not the same and aren't interchangeable. There's a mental pause that comes with a semi-colon that does not with the comma. Generally speaking, if you elect to change a semi-colon to a comma, you need to add text to replace it as well.

With regard to periods, or full stops, while it might produce a result that is grammatically correct, it certainly would not be pleasant to the internal ear. Most of the examples provided in this lovely long thread of replacing a semi-colon with a period are perfectly grammatical, but they are choppy and unpleasant to the "reader's ear" in my head.

In my experience, while there was an intelligent discussion about the "evolution" of language in this thread leading to the purported demise of the semi-colon, the reality is that today's readers can't parse complex sentences as easily as their forebears. I write FAQ and canned responses near-endlessly. I've finally had to resort to using a reading comprehension-checker (the military's version) so that I can repeatedly simplify FAQ Answers, explanations and the like, because once sentences become compound, people seem to just give up on them. (After fighting the inevitable for nearly two years, I gave up in 2011 and I now deliberately write FAQ's, etc., to a 6th-grade [11 years old, for folks outside the US] reading-comprehension level. Eleven years old. Mind you: the people receiving and reading these instructions are authors and publishers.) And heaven forfend I use a semi-colon! Commas seem bad enough, but a semi-colon? The joining of clauses? Ye GODS.

Some may see this as the evolution of language, but I see it as devolution. It depresses me.

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Old 03-27-2013, 04:59 AM   #100
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OFF-TOPIC but not really.
I blame the falling standards of "modern" education. I know a college junior who was working as a cashier. She could not use a paper and pencil to add numbers if the column held more than five figures. I guess because the pencil was in one hand, she could only use the five fingers on the other for tabulation.

Too many children are advanced to the next grade when they should be held back, all to protect their self-esteem. Now we have college graduates who can't read, and who can't do simple math. Yes, it is depressing.
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Old 03-27-2013, 11:17 AM   #101
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One of the first cultural shocks I experienced when switching from polish to german schoolsystem was the absence of summer reading lists. I.e. books expected to be read/known for the next year. Instead there were merely two (!) books assigned to read during the school year (and that for advanced courses) In Poland there were two of these lists one mandatory, the second were recommendations - both lists with about a dozen positions (at least in my schooldays; no idea how it is now). Another point was; kids were usually not reading for entertainment. If they were consuming stories, they did so by audio plays from cassettes... all not too fertile soil to cultivate literacy.
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Old 04-05-2013, 12:12 AM   #102
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Semicolon vs. Period?

You could call these metacritical marks. The period says "done with that unit of thought." The semicolon says "Done with a unit of thought, moving on to another that's related."

Deciding to use a period or a semicolon is part of the writer's art. If you want the two thoughts to be more distinct, go with the period. If you'd prefer them to seem closer together, then join them with a semicolon. There really isn't a right or wrong.

As others have pointed out, some metacritical functions of punctuation may not register with readers. I don't let that bother me, but you may need to work that into your calculations.
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