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Old 04-23-2012, 10:40 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Stitchawl View Post
I have to disagree with that. My wife was able to read it, and her ability with English is marginal. I'd estimate that she understands less than 40% of spoken English.
Facility in a language does not necessarily translate to facility in reading (or vice versa); many people with dyslexia are very articulate. If you have time, read through the article to which I linked; it explains the point further down. Generally, people with those forms of dyslexia that include transposition of words have the greatest difficulty with this.

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In terms of content, does the ability to use a semi-colon correctly really have that much effect on the actual transference of information? How about ending a sentence with a preposition?
Possibly not, but the internet is littered with examples of how a sentence can be drastically changed by omission or insertion of a comma. One episode of the Jonathan Creek mystery series hinged on that very thing. Most of the other examples you give relate to the changes that take place in any language, and may argue against 'precriptivism', as the noted Professor David Crystal puts it, but do not argue against language use per se.

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Toilet training, or the academic equivalents, grammar and spelling, should be kept to the primary schools,
Ah, well, now you mention it : http://www.independent.co.uk/news/ed...e-6612068.html
Sadly, it's not possible to make assumptions about either a child's toilet training or reading age any longer!
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Old 04-23-2012, 10:47 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by teh603 View Post
That having been said, I'm not perfect either. I've always had trouble with "its" and "it's," so I tend to use the former exclusively. Maybe its because the teachers made such a big deal about it in school or something; sometimes the best way to make someone screw up is to get them to think about what they're doing.
There's really nothing hard about it. "Its" is a possessive pronoun and, in common with all the other possessive pronouns (my, his, hers, ours, yours, theirs) has no apostrophe. "It's" is an abbreviation for "it is" or "it has".

What's difficult about that
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Old 04-23-2012, 10:49 AM   #33
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There's really nothing hard about it. "Its" is a possessive pronoun and, in common with all the other possessive pronouns (my, his, hers, ours, yours, theirs) has no apostrophe. "It's" is an abbreviation for "it is" or "it has".

What's difficult about that
When does the apostrophe come after the s?

Jones', Jones's, Joneseses's'?

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Old 04-23-2012, 10:53 AM   #34
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When does the apostrophe come after the s?

Jones', Jones's, Joneseses's'?

In "its", the apostrophere NEVER comes after the "s".

More generally, the apostrophe in a possessive comes after the "s" when the word ends in an "s".

Eg:
the cat's dinner <-- the dinner of one cat
the cats' dinner <-- the dinner of many cats

BUT, with a proper name, it's conventional to use "'s" even when the word ends in an "s".

Eg,

Dickens's novels

not

Dickens' novels
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Old 04-23-2012, 10:53 AM   #35
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I can remember going to my daughter's school parents day. Looking through her English books her teacher had given her nine out of ten for a story she had written. When I questioned her teacher and pointed out that the essay was full of spelling mistakes and punctuation errors, I was told that they “Don't like to stifle the children's creativity.”!
That's what happens when you have Education professors who don't have any time in a non-college classroom, teaching future teachers about how children are supposed to think and behave based upon some theoretical framework.

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It could be argued that you often must pass through conscious incompetence and conscious competence before you can get to unconscious competence, where you do it right without thinking about it.
If that's the goal. You can also use it to undermine someone's ability and keep them from ever developing competence.
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Old 04-23-2012, 11:01 AM   #36
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This is one of those "rules" that's currently in rather a state of flux, with several of the most prominent style guides disagreeing. The "old" rule, stated in the Holt Guide to English was basically that if the syllable was pronounced then 's would be used (Lewis's) and if the syllable wasn't pronounced then the s was dropped (James'). AP style now tends to eschew that, whereas the Chicago Manual still sticks with it, and Fowler seems to be sitting on the fence, pointing out that it is more usual now to use "Jones's", with more than one Jones remaining as "Joneses".
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Old 04-23-2012, 11:01 AM   #37
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If that's the goal. You can also use it to undermine someone's ability and keep them from ever developing competence.
Sure, there's good teaching and bad teaching and good and bad teachers, even within the same pedagogic strategy (I think I just made that term up). Goes for parenting too.
But by the same token, you can undermine someone's education and ability to perform later on by ignoring or not correcting mistakes.
I keep hearing stories of kids who are graduated out of high school as functional illiterates because the schools didn't want to damage their self esteem by failing them.

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Old 04-23-2012, 11:30 AM   #38
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And I think that, you, Stitchawl, are just playing the devil's advocate here to get a good discussion going. And it worked.
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Old 04-23-2012, 12:02 PM   #39
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Grammar is essential.

Split infinitives I'm okay with. Sentence-ending prepositions too, but just barely.

If I see a grammatical or spelling error in a book, I have to stop, find my red pen, and underline it.

This is quite troubling on a nook.

But does this, as Doc Nafario suggests, make you feel as though you are doing all the work of the author, or shouldn't we all just lighten up a little and accept things for what they are?
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Old 04-23-2012, 12:14 PM   #40
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"Split infinitives" are merely an example of the Victorian obsession with trying to force English into the mold of Latin grammar, even when it doesn't really fit. In Latin, an infinitive is a single word, and hence can't be split, therefore (the argument ran) you also shouldn't split an infinitive in English. Absolute nonsense (IMHO).
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Old 04-23-2012, 12:17 PM   #41
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But does this, as Doc Nafario suggests, make you feel as though you are doing all the work of the author, or shouldn't we all just lighten up a little and accept things for what they are?
Let me ask you, Justin: why do you feel that it's unreasonable to expect an author to be able to use grammar correctly? I would expect a carpenter to know how to use a saw; shouldn't I equally expect an author to be able to know how to use his tools correctly?
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Old 04-23-2012, 12:17 PM   #42
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In Latin, an infinitive is a single word, and hence can't be split
And this is why they didn't make "Star Trek" in ancient Rome.
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Old 04-23-2012, 12:19 PM   #43
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I have to entirely agree with you!
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Old 04-23-2012, 12:36 PM   #44
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Count me in with Harry's original post as well. You have to know the rules before you break them. Otherwise you're just a hack.
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Old 04-23-2012, 12:49 PM   #45
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Let me ask you, Justin: why do you feel that it's unreasonable to expect an author to be able to use grammar correctly? I would expect a carpenter to know how to use a saw; shouldn't I equally expect an author to be able to know how to use his tools correctly?
Let me ask you Harry: where the hell did I say that?
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