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Old 08-21-2010, 11:27 PM   #1
SameOldStory
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Spelling contractions

For so many years I've noted that in most books there's very little spelling contractions.

It's always - "it is", or "I have", or "we will", or "they are", etc.

I know, or think that I know, that authors don't get paid for the simple words like - and, he, I, it, etc.

Does anyone have a explanation for the lack of spelling contractions in books?

My problem is that while speaking I use contractions. But If I'm writing, I have to think about typing it with contractions.
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Old 08-21-2010, 11:45 PM   #2
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They don't want any dickheads saying your, when they mean you are!
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Old 08-22-2010, 02:58 AM   #3
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They don't want any dickheads saying your, when they mean you are!
Whats youʻre problem with that?

Didja like what I did theyʻre?
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Old 08-22-2010, 05:11 AM   #4
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One thing I don't like are (don't know what they're called ), but abbreviation of things... I know BYO means 'bring your own'..

I recently read a book, which had lots of these, and I just had to leave them to my own imagination...
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Old 08-22-2010, 05:14 AM   #5
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Well, I discovered, whilst taking a linguistics class, that BYO is *not* an acronym, although many people will call it that. Acronyms must actually make a new word that you can pronounce, and not just initials. Like NEA is just initials (you say N-E-A) and NASP can be an acronym, as you pronounce it "nasp" (like asp with an N in front).

or something like that?
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Old 08-22-2010, 05:59 AM   #6
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SameOldStory,

Have you read any of Damon Runyan's stories? He was famous for never using contractions, even in dialouge. It adds a very distinctive flavour to his work. He also stubbornly refused to use the past tense. They're very entertaining stories.
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Old 08-22-2010, 06:12 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GraceKrispy View Post
Well, I discovered, whilst taking a linguistics class, that BYO is *not* an acronym, although many people will call it that. Acronyms must actually make a new word that you can pronounce, and not just initials. Like NEA is just initials (you say N-E-A) and NASP can be an acronym, as you pronounce it "nasp" (like asp with an N in front).

or something like that?
goodness! you are worse than me you old pedant!

Oh that's why you touch children!
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Old 08-22-2010, 09:13 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by GraceKrispy View Post
Well, I discovered, whilst taking a linguistics class, that BYO is *not* an acronym, although many people will call it that. Acronyms must actually make a new word that you can pronounce, and not just initials. Like NEA is just initials (you say N-E-A) and NASP can be an acronym, as you pronounce it "nasp" (like asp with an N in front).
But you could use any of those examples as words if you wanted to-- all have vowels, no difficult combinations of consonants, etc. such in things like NAACP, NRA, NCIS, and NCIC (off the top of my head.) It is only by arbitrary convention that one is spelled out and one is used as a word. (For example, I always think of this as the "pow mia" flag.)
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Old 08-22-2010, 10:00 AM   #9
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SameOldStory,

Have you read any of Damon Runyan's stories? He was famous for never using contractions, even in dialouge. It adds a very distinctive flavour to his work. He also stubbornly refused to use the past tense. They're very entertaining stories.
Very interesting. And, except for the past tense part, the lack of contractions is totally in keeping with the series I'm reading now writen between 1928 and 1946.
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Old 08-22-2010, 10:06 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by GraceKrispy View Post
Well, I discovered, whilst taking a linguistics class, that BYO is *not* an acronym, although many people will call it that. Acronyms must actually make a new word that you can pronounce, and not just initials. Like NEA is just initials (you say N-E-A) and NASP can be an acronym, as you pronounce it "nasp" (like asp with an N in front).

or something like that?
This is TOTALY unfair, but I believe that in Slavic languages the lack of a few vowels is no hindrance to pronouncing a word.
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Old 08-22-2010, 10:26 AM   #11
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But you could use any of those examples as words if you wanted to-- all have vowels, no difficult combinations of consonants, etc. such in things like NAACP, NRA, NCIS, and NCIC (off the top of my head.) It is only by arbitrary convention that one is spelled out and one is used as a word. (For example, I always think of this as the "pow mia" flag.)
No, Grace is right. It's only an acronym if it's a pronounceable word. Eg, "laser" and "radar" are acronyms, but "FBI" is not - it's merely an abbreviation.
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Old 08-22-2010, 10:32 AM   #12
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No, Grace is right. It's only an acronym if it's a pronounceable word. Eg, "laser" and "radar" are acronyms, but "FBI" is not - it's merely an abbreviation.
But the examples given-- BYO, NEA and NASP are all easily pronounceable as words-- exactly as I pointed out. Byo. See? Say it aloud-- "byo." You can say "byo." You can say "nea." You can say "nasp." The fact that people choose to spell out N-E-A, which can be pronounced as a perfectly cromulent English language word, but say- for example- "nahsah", which could be spelled out as N-A-S-A, is arbitrary.

I've even heard people say "ooofoh" when they are talking about U-F-Os.
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Old 08-22-2010, 10:33 AM   #13
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I'm still looking for an explanation as to why contractions are so little used in books.

Any takers?
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Old 08-22-2010, 10:38 AM   #14
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Contractions are primarily a feature of the spoken language - it's basically a form of elision, in which words are "slurred together"; it's generally not considered good writing style to use them in written English, unless you're writing dialogue. Of course, it depends how formal your writing style is and what the intended audience is. I use many more contractions when I'm writing here on MR than I would if I were writing a formal report at work.
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Old 08-22-2010, 12:34 PM   #15
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... it's generally not considered good writing style to use them in written English, ...
I agree, but it's not obvious (at least to me) why that should be the case.

I hadn't thought about it before, but SameOldStory raises an interesting question - unfortunately I dunno the answer.
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