Monday, February 02, 2009

That's My Girl -OR-Thats My Girl

This is my daughter in London last spring.

Katie (actually, Kaylin) never wanted to be an English major. I would mention the prospect to her in high school, and she would say, "No way, I ain't gonna be no English major." No, she didn't say that exactly, but it was more like, "NO." "No, Mom, NO." "No."

I got the message.

But I knew superhuman verbal powers were in her blood and that eventually, words would win the the day. And that is some fancy consonance there ("words would win") which just goes to show how being an English major helps you recognize and share critical information like assonance and consonance throughout your life. I mean, not a day goes by that I don't have to clear up "iambic pentameter" for the postman or a Walmart associate.

She's in the spring semester of her senior year. That means an exciting future awaits her as she wields the degree only slightly more ignominious than the nebulous psychology degree.

I'm just kidding. She's going to make a great editor. She is so sharp she can cut chunks of cheddar from across the room with her laser-like wit and punctuation capabilities. She has been known to tote a slingshot to church just in case errors occur within the worship lyrics on the screens, which, by the way, often do. And may I just say here: That's my girl.

And if there's one thing Katie hates, it's the misuse of apostrophes.

(Here she is at the Globe Theatre. I'm so proud and happy that she saw something I only dreamed about.)

So the other day, Melanie of This Ain't New York forwarded a Yahoo news article about Birmingham's proposal to ban the apostrophe. And since my daughter is not just an English major but also an anglophile, I forwarded said article on to her.

Here is a small excerpt:

LONDON – On the streets of Birmingham, the queen's English is now the queens English. [Edit: Shouldn't "queen's" be capitalized?]

England's second-largest city has decided to drop apostrophes from all its street signs, saying they're confusing and old-fashioned.

One of my favorite quotes from the article is this: British grammarians have railed for decades against storekeepers' signs advertising the sale of "apple's and pear's," or pubs offering "chip's and pea's."

Cut to: But some purists are downright possessive about the punctuation mark ...

"They are such sweet-looking things that play a crucial role in the English language," said Marie Clair of the Plain English Society, which campaigns for the use of simple English. "It's always worth taking the effort to understand them, instead of ignoring them."

Marie, I would add men to the category of "sweet-looking things worth taking the effort to understand instead of ignoring." Or as my aunt said yesterday, "Men aren't cooked until they're 40."


So in reply to the forward, I get this message from my daughter:

I am deeply saddened by this turn of event's.

Did I mention, thats my girl?

So what about you--are there are any spelling or punctuation oddities that irritate you like nails scratching a chalkboard?

Here she is in Mexico a couple of years ago.

This spring? Egypt!


Becky said...

Wha't a s'mart gir'l you' ha've. Yo'u m'ust be' so' pr'oud.

Kim said...

Yeah, I first read about this at She Lives blog and had to laugh. Since I'm southern and use y'all on a regular basis. Has Birmingham last their MIND?

By the way, Katie might be interested in the Denver Publishing Institute after graduation, an excellent post-grad summer course at the University of Denver for those who want to get into any aspect of publishing. I attended in 2000. May never get to do anything professionally with it, but had a blast learning the ins-and-outs of the business. And it's a great networking tool as well! They have real editors and publishers come in to teach and we met scores of authors as well. One of the highlights of my educational life!

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Pamela said...

When Deven was in elementary school, she would go around and point out all the errors in the stores while we were shopping. She enjoyed that more than the shopping!

Cheryl said...

Where will it end????

What's next, let's not capitalize because it just takes too much effort!

Mispelled words are my pet peeve!!
(Especially when it's on the big screen at church!!!)

a Tonggu Momma said...

One of my favorite book is Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss. And I'm guessing your daughter read that at some point. Which makes us both Huge Word Nerds.

Rach@In His Hands said...

What a fantastic girl you have there!

annie's eyes said...

I already love your daughter! She's a chip off the ol' block. Actually, my thing is too many commas. I overuse them, every time my mind pauses. I know, um, better. It is almost as distracting as apostrophies, but then I am not as possessive as a purist! Fun post. Love, Annette

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

Oh the shame of it all, speaking from the perspective of the grammerticlly challenged. Now I have to worry about the future placement of all of my apostrophes and wonder if they are in fact accurate. I may never sleep soundly again...

Too funny, it is wonderful to watch our children explore all the opportunities that come their way and just sit back and wait with expectation to see where they will end up.

Blessings from a future apostrophe offender.

lmerie said...

I "felled" to see the problem . . .haha "felled" for "failed" and using "a" where "an" should have been used. Those are some irritants recently noticed. But I am far from being a grammar junky to go on, so I now quietly bow out...

Angie Ledbetter said...

Chip off the old block, I'd say. You really should try your hand at poetry. As for my writing pet peeves...too many to list on a Monday morning. :)

Debbie said...

Your pride and love for her comes shining through in this. And with good reason!

Greg C said...

It dont' bother me much at all. Spelling and grammer go hand in hand. YOu either got em or you aint. Seriously, you daugher would stroke around here. It's bubbaville.

Kay said...

I see these things all the time. The one that makes me want to holler at the screen is when a blogger/writer assumes a thank you and says "your welcome". Drives me bonkers! It is "YOU ARE (you're) welcome"! Grumble grumble. (so now I fret and wonder if the exclamation point should have been inside the quoties or outside.. it never ends. arggghh!)

And I see other incorrect spellings... I saw the word 'weather' instead of the word 'whether' the other day. I just about died! There many others. I try not to let it bug me. I'm doing a fine job, aren't I??!! LOL

Mocha with Linda said...

There is not enough time for me to type the comment I wish to impart! Aren't YOU glad!!

I am not only a word geek but a grammar snob as well. Misuse of apostrophes makes me CRAZY. Using them for plurals makes me want to scream. Saw a sign in Dillard's a few months ago that said Polo Shirt's. Arggh!!!

Besides misspelled words and other infractions that I catch everywhere from the church bulletin to the screen to poorly edited novels (a HUGE pet peeve!), I also abhor the way the pendulum has swung with the use of "I". Now they say "He gave it to my husband and I." Wrong, wrong, wrong!!! If you say "me" when it stands alone, you say "me" when you add other people.

Have I ever told you I got the Lizzie Borden award in Journalism?!

Okay, I'll stop now.

Dena said...

Wow, you must be very proud. Your daughter sounds like an amazing girl!

My main irritation involves spelling errors. I don't mean occasional errors, but the ones that are so frequent you have to try to decipher what in the world you're reading. I want to scream at the screen "SPELL CHECK MY FRIEND, SPELL CHECK!"

The Bayou Belles and Their Beau said...

Love it!

Yes ... oh, so many!

The misuse of the apostrophe kills me.

Then, there's the "your" and "you're' tragedy that occurs daily in my proofing.

And, of course, the ever-popular, "they're," "there," and "their." I taught that lesson in 2nd grade.

I really wish I could pull out the old curriculum and teach the adults I work with some grammar and spelling lessons. They would be quite offended, I'm sure. I'll just keep correcting with my red pen and smiley faces.

Susanne said...

For heaven's sake. What next? Periods, question marks, quotations? When will it end? Are we headed down a slippery slope to a punctuationless world? May it never be!

I think it's awesome how much travel Katie is getting to do. That's one thing I always regretted not doing when I was young.

Melanie @ This Ain't New York said...

If the grammar is used for emphasis, it doesn't bother me as much.

If it is in a news story or just obviously an error, pretty much any kind of error bugs me.

My major issue is spelling. OH MY! Makes me crazy.

BTW- I am a nebulous psychology major. Explains a lot, doesn't it?

Cyndy said...

Oh the poor apostrophe! If this were happening in Birmingham, AL (those of you from Alabama please do not take offence, it could happen in California too) I would be able to understand this. But Birmingham, England!?!?!

Shakespeare must be rolling over in his grave.

Anonymous said...

Shes so right! The misuse of apostrophe's drive me crazy too. :)

{Jodie} said...

So many things, seriously. English courses through my veins. I'm a snob about these things.
Your does not equal you're. As in, Your Awesome! {Your awesome WHAT?!}

Or their vs there vs they're. People are idiots.

Unrelated but still relevant: I heard they're gonna drop "cursive" because it's just "too hard" for people to read. Seriously? Too hard? Idiots. {eyes roll into the back of my head}

...stepping off my soap box now. :)

RissaRoo said...

I love "Eats, Shoots and Leaves". I *ought* to be better at grammar and spelling, having grown up with a writer/English teacher for a mother. Sadly, I find myself relying on Spell Check far too much!

I vote that if the apostrophe goes the way of the dodo, we should all have to stop using contractions!

Deven said...

Mom -- I still like that better than shopping. :)

Crazy apostrophes

Something I'm noticing from my middle school students is CrAzY cApitalizAtiOn in schoolwork. Some of them are forgetting the caps @ the beginning of sentences, proper nouns... Where DoeS the MadNEss EnD???

Liz said...

Oh boy, am I a stickler! I hate the misuse of apostrophes. Why would they want to do away with them? That's just wrong.

Carol @SheLives said...

Birminghams new policys stupid. Stick the apostrophes where you will.

"Yay for all the punctuation snobs," say I as I strive toward the correct use of the comma.

Meanwhile, your girl rocks!

skoots1mom said...

the mis-use of "anxious" in place of "eager"...
drives me bonkers...
Here are the differences...
1.)anxious: full of mental DISTRESS OR FEAR OF DANGER or misfortune.

2.)eager: ENTHUSIASTIC or URGENT desire

PLEASE don't mis-use these words...they don't mean the same thing!

Pam from alertandorientedx4 said...

I am the original quotation mark Nazi. It sends me up a tree when the quote marks are put on the wrong side of the punctuation.
However...I WAY overuse elipses...
And misspellings happen...when you misspell someone's name: SHAME ON YOU!!!

Heather of the EO said...

Shes lovely isnt she?

The their/there mix ups bother me. And the your/you're. But I'm sure I have plenty of grammatical errors ALL OVER my blog. I just no it. :)

Mel said...

I bet she does amazing! I must say that grammer and I are not, let me repeat that ARE NOT friends. I am a comma happy human being and like it like that.

Edwina at The Picket Fence said...

Sounds like you have a very bright daughter. Working in the schools and with students can be very rewarding, I sure love doing it.

Chel's Leaving a Legacy said...

I never thought of myself a s a grammar snob, but I think I am. I agree with most of these things.

So I can only add this: it bothers me to hear (especially a Pastor or someone who is supposed to be very familiar with the Bible) to say "Revelations."

It's ONE Revelation: The Revelation of Jesus Christ. Every Christian needs to know that.

Oh, and far less important would be the improper use of the word that doesn't exist: irregardless. Double negative. The word that should be used is simply "regardless."

That's my soap box for the day. :-)

Laurie Ann said...

Love the post about your very astute daughter! Congratulations to her.

The apostrophe issue? The grammar cop in me would fly over there and fix the signs! Oh no!

Amy said...

I am a music teacher so my pet peeves have to do with people singing popular songs wrong. Messing up the national anthem is a pet peeve for me. For goodness sake it is OUR national anthem. When the athletes at the olympics are on camera messing up the words...geez. (It really goes back to the lack of music education in our elementary schools...but that is another Oprah)

BTW - It is Deck the Hall, not Deck the Halls. And it is purple mountain majesties...not purple mountains majesty...

My music teaching is done for the day, I guess I can go home.

Thanks for the great post

Amy from

nikkipolani said...

Can I be best friends with Katie?! I can't bear these misuses which seem more and more common. People seem to lose their bearings entirely and start using apostrophes when they mean to pluralize a noun.

Sitesx6 said...

Well...since you asked.

I'm really bugged by:

i'm lovin it (The McDonald's slogan) it drives me to drink....


I'm loving it doesn't sound quite as hip, at least it would be correct.

I'm also bugged by There/Their/They're and Your/You're

Kelly in Michigan :0

Susan said...

I agree with so many here. I have to say, though, the place the grammar bug bites the MOST is when it's on the slides at church! Makes me CRAZY! My husband always looks at me like, "Yeah, I see it too." But I figured out that many many people DON'T see them. It's so weird to me because it gets in my craw like crazy!

Hooray to your girl and all her adventures. I love it that the world seems so much more open to our kids than it was to us. And I really love the way they dive right into it!



Debbie @Like a Rose said...

I hate it most when they decide to change the rules!?

From high school to college to the years I've (or is that Ive)proofread papers for each of my children and now my husband the comma rule keeps changing! Specifically the rule has changed when the comma is used in a series such as commas, colons, and apostrophes - or is it commas, colons and apostrophes.

My humble apologies to Amy. I really thought it was "purple mountain's majesty". Oops!

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

I had to come over here, because I remember reading your very funny post about Clinton Kelly. I tweeted something about an old WNTW I was watching today and then all of a sudden he was following me.

So, I don't know if you twitter, but I thought you might like to know your guy is on there (I'm jenndon he's clintonkelly).

Susanne said...

Just came back to read the rest of your comments and can I say, "Holy Apostrophe, Batman!" Who knew a post on grammatic could elicit such passionate comments. LOL! Yeah, for English majors. What would we do without you!

Claire said...

I can hardly read the newspaper because I get so distracted by the many typos.

Recently, in the blogosophere, the word "loose," was driving me nuts, as in "I'm going to loose weight." I finally did a post just about that word.

On a blog I read regularly, the poor girl kept talking about her daily "exorcise." I finally emailed her and said, "To exorcise is to cast out demons, and though exercise is good for the soul, I don't think it's that good," or something to that effect. :)

Brenda Susan said...

I completely blame TEXTING! Even though the mistakes were showing up BEFORE texting.....I still blame texting! :)

Tammy said...

I think I'll write an article on why we need to add periods where ever and when ever we know because they seem so relevant.

What a beautiful and bright daughter!

40winkzzz said...

The only thing's that bug me more than misuse of apostrophe's is if your one of those people whose always mixing up certain pronouns and cant seem to make their pronoun's agree with their antecedent's, let alone writing a sentence with good parallel construction, and then theirs those people who write run on sentence's and dont use hyphens.

Or something.

All those comments about errors in church remind me a post I wrote a while back about just such a thing:
(Because I know you have nothing better to do than to read my archives.)

I'd love to get into editing, but unfortunately, my degree is not in English. My dad is an editor w/a major publisher, and my son is doing an internship at his (my dad's) office this semester-- although he's not an English major either. Love of words runs thick in the blood (as, perhaps, does Getting the Wrong Degree).

PreciseDisarray said...

My boyfriend's biggest pet peeve is the misuse of apostrophes. I appreciate good grammar, but often don't follow the rules, ie; too many comma splices, parenthesis, and apostrophe abuse and misuse.
New to your blog, I'm enjoying what I am reading. Thanks!

Paula (SweetPea) said...

I can't believe I missed this. I am grammar freak. So much that I wonder if I should teach it. I, too, hate the misuse of apostrophes and many other grammatical errors. Apostrophes are for possessions not plurals.

One of my biggest peeves about those little marks is to use it in the possessive form with a name or item ending in S. Such as it is: Chris' and NOT Chris's. I just hate that. I see that all the time because that is the name of my beloved.

Also, I hate grammatical errors involving like-sounding words.
The biggest common misspelling is:
Your when you're is intended. Hate it!

Also, there, their, they're.

Like I said, I should be a grammar/wrting teacher. I have to admit there are many times in my posts that I just must use fragments. Usually it is when I use three fragment sentences in a row to emphasize a point of for the repetitive effect.

That's all from Ms. Grammar.