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Posts Tagged ‘vocabulary’

  • Today is Friday the 13th. Twenty million Americans are feeling unlucky today — people who suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia. It’s a 100+-year-old word made up of a combination of the Norse and Greek roots words for ‘fear’ and ‘Friday’ and ’13.’
  • Folklorists say that the phobia itself is a combination of two separate superstition-induced phobias — 13 is unlucky in much of folklore and so is Friday. Whenever the first day of a month is a Sunday, there’s going to be a Friday the 13th that month.
  • The number 13 has been unlucky for a long time. Numerologists point out that 12 is a complete number in Judeo-Christian culture: There are 12 months in a year, 12 hours on a standard clock, 12 Apostles, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 days of Christmas, 12 eggs in a dozen, of course, the 12 Steps of GRAMMARHOLICS (not so) ANONYMOUS, and so on.
  • There’s something unsettling, even repugnant, about going just a bit ‘beyond completeness’ — that’s how academic folklorists rationalize the superstition, at least. The vast majority of skyscrapers have no 13th floor, the room number 13 is missing from many modern hotels, and many airliners do not have a row 13 in their passenger seating.
  • As for Friday, it’s unlucky in a handful of ancient cultures. In Christianity, it’s the day of Jesus’ crucifixion.
  • There have been 12 films in the Friday the 13th series. The 13th came out on Friday the 13th of July in 2012.
  • There are always the traditional folk remedies to ward off bad luck today: burning any socks with holes in them, or eating some gristle while standing on your head, or climbing to a mountaintop. Just know that some years can have up to three of them.

Enjoy!

References: Dad, CBS News, The Skeptic’s Dictionary, IMDb

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Oh my … really? What is our language coming to?

See our series on Nouns gone bad:

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Say what?

We did a little research on apostrophe use in Mother’s Day and Father’s Day messages floating around cyberspace and …

Mom’s win!

By far, there were more mistake’s for Mother’s than there were foul up’s for Father’s … (of course, our apostrophe abuse is intentional here).

We thought you might get a chuckle at some of our findings, so, here you go:

  • Happy Mother’s Day to all the lovely Mom’s!
  • … wishing all the Mommy’s I know a Happy Mothers Day!! (this one could have just moved the mark to Mothers)
  • We have to celebrate our mama’s by the way…
  • … can’t wait to have dinner at moms house. (now, this one needs an apostrophe)
  • Happy Mothers Day to all those amazing Mom’s out there 🙂
  • … happy mother’s day to all d mom’s of d Boston celtics lol! (this one needs some Capitalization help, too)
  • Thank You, Yeah Us Mom’s Do Rock.
  • Happy Mother’s Day. Here’s to Mom’s everywhere! (incorrect, unless his mother is omnipresent)
  • Happy Mother’s DAy to all tha mom’s n soon to b mom’s out there uu deserve it (this one needs some spelling help, too)

Therefore, today’s punctuation concentration is on avoiding that embarassing apostrophe catastrophe

To start, let’s define this little character:

apostrophe. noun. a mark of punctuation ( )used to indicate possessive case or omission of one or more letter(s) from a word.

You may see some sources state that the apostrophe is also used for indicating plurals of abbreviations, acronyms and symbols. We heartily disagree with this usage — we feel that this practice is outdated.

We do like Grammar Book’s baker’s dozen of Rules for Apostrophes, so we’ll refer you to their site for the full details and just give you a summary here, with one addition from us:

Our Apostrophe Rule:

0. Do not use an apostrophe to form a plural. This goes for words, symbols, abbreviations, and acronyms. * (This is related to Rules 5. – names, and 11. – CAPS & numbers used as nouns, below, but more encompassing.)

* Here are examples of misuse according to our rule:

CD-s and DVD-s

SUV-s

PC-s

Grammar Book’s Apostrophe Rules:

  1. Use the apostrophe with contractions.
  2. Use the apostrophe to show possession.
  3. Use the apostrophe where the noun that should follow is implied.
  4. Use the apostrophe to show plural possession.
  5. Do not use an apostrophe for the plural of a name. * (We have some people in mind who need to learn this rule!)
  6. Use the apostrophe with a singular compound noun, to show possession.
  7. Use the apostrophe with a plural compound noun, to show possession.
  8. Use the apostrophe and s after the second name only if two people possess the same item.
  9. Never use an apostrophe with possessive pronouns: his, hers, its, theirs, ours, yours, whose.
  10. The only time an apostrophe is used for it’s is when it is a contraction for it is or it has. (Remember, “its” is a possessive pronoun – no apostrophe.) See photo below.
  11. The plurals for capital letters and numbers used as nouns are not formed with apostrophes. *
  12. Use the possessive case in front of a gerund (-ing word).
  13. If the gerund has a pronoun in front of it, use the possessive form of that pronoun. (Refer to Rule 9. re: pronouns.)

Speaking of rules … we like this … from Trevor Coultart:

it's

Should be its.

Sources: GrammarBook.com, Flickr

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We present, in tribute to our friends over at Apostrophe Abuse, Apostrophe Catastrophes, Apostrophism, and of course Apostrophe Police, the following  …

  • From the Viewing Guide on our Time Warner Cable screen … umbrella’s … really?

  • Guess we should say that … Stand In’s … are from the … credit’s … in the TV show … The Kennedy’s … ???

So, what is it with this tendency to apostrophize plurals? We don’t get it. Do you?

  • Finally, in today’s tribute, we’re still lookin’ for the missin’ apostrophe in this … Surfin … sign.

This is just another example of apostrophailure.

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One of our favorite things to do is shop for office supplies. Imagine our delight at finding this entry in the OfficeMax catalog:

OfficeMax Invisible Tape Dispensers

Are these as as out-of-sight as the OfficeMax Invisible Boxed Tape  that goes in the invisible dispenser?  We just couldn’t see our way clear to order one. Maybe these stealth supplies would make for a very clean desk?

In case you don’t get it, consider these alternatives:

OfficeMax Dispensers for Invisible Tape, and OfficeMax Boxed Invisible Tape. This way, the reader will know that it’s the tape that is invisible, not the dispenser or the box.

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In honor of Earth Day, here’s a green grammar gaffe for you.

We contend that one of two alternatives is preferable …

1. “RESERVED PARKING FOR HIGH EFFICIENCY VEHICLE, or

2. “RESERVED PARKING FOR HIGHLY-EFFICIENT VEHICLE”

Your thoughts? Please comment.

(click on photo to enlarge)

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… not always perfect grammar. As we found in these hilarious examples of signs around the world. Enjoy!

In a washroom:
TOILET OUT OF ORDER. PLEASE USE FLOOR BELOW

In a Launderette:
AUTOMATIC WASHING MACHINES: PLEASE REMOVE ALL YOUR CLOTHES WHEN THE LIGHT GOES OUT

In a London department store:
BARGAIN BASEMENT UPSTAIRS

In an office:
WOULD THE PERSON WHO TOOK THE STEP LADDER YESTERDAY PLEASE BRING IT BACK OR FURTHER STEPS WILL BE TAKEN

In an office:
AFTER TEA BREAK STAFF SHOULD EMPTY THE TEAPOT AND STAND UPSIDE DOWN ON THE DRAINING BOARD

Outside a secondhand shop:
WE EXCHANGE ANYTHING – BICYCLES, WASHING MACHINES, ETC. WHY NOT BRING YOUR WIFE ALONG AND GET A WONDERFUL BARGAIN?

Notice in health food shop window:
CLOSED DUE TO ILLNESS

Spotted in a safari park:
ELEPHANTS PLEASE STAY IN YOUR CAR

Sign on a wall at a conference:
FOR ANYONE WHO HAS CHILDREN AND DOESN’T KNOW IT, THERE IS A DAY CARE ON THE 1ST FLOOR

Notice in a farmer’s field:
THE FARMER ALLOWS WALKERS TO CROSS THE FIELD FOR FREE, BUT THE BULL CHARGES.

Message on a leaflet:
IF YOU CANNOT READ THEN THIS LEAFLET WILL TELL YOU HOW TO GET READING LESSONS

On a repair shop door:
WE CAN REPAIR ANYTHING. (PLEASE KNOCK HARD ON THE DOOR – THE BELL DOESN’T WORK)

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