Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Pedantry

I am not particularly pedantic. I like written words to be correct but to me it is far more important that people write, no matter how badly they do so. They will improve with experience, as I have over the period of my blog. I cringe at times when I read some of my early posts. Yet still in almost every blog post of mine, I make a mistake, mostly typos now. English is not easy. Sometimes I change one word in my blog and suddenly sentences become nonsense. So much else has to be changed to get the tense and grammar correct.

I am rather bemused by the title Melbourne Writers Festival.  Shouldn't there be an apostrophe in Writers? Shouldn't it be after the s? For any other festival I would not think it odd, as stylistically and on signage it looks nicer without punctuation. But you know, these are writers and surely professional writers should have their writing right and the apostrophe should be used?

The Melbourne Writers' Festival banners have come down and Melbourne Spring Fashion Week has cleverly avoided any apostrophe issue.

Within these temporary walls erected at great expense is a catwalk for models to parade. I await the tv coverage of the male underwear parade.


29 comments:

  1. I agree that Writers should have read Writers'. I wonder why they didn't bother.
    And the writers' festival would have MUCH more allure for me than the fashion fest.

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    1. Me too. As usual the Writers' Festival was excellent this year, with one notable exception. Mark Latham’s filthy mouth and mind made everyone cringe :(

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    2. EC, I think it just looks better on a banner and in advertising. Style above substance, even for writers.

      Hels, Latham is a scary bloke. Hard to believe we would have ever considered voting for him.

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  2. "I like written words to be correct but to me it is far more important that people write, no matter how badly they do so."

    Refreshing. A lot of bloggers complain about grammar, spelling, etc.
    If you don't like someone's style, move on!

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    1. Susie, I truly believe this. Just because you are not so literate doesn't mean that you can't have a view, write a story or tell the world about something. Pruning your roses? Tell the world about it, no matter how badly you write.

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  3. I can't spell and english was my worse subject at school so don't expect to much.
    Merle....

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    1. Merle, I know very well that you can write proper if you make the effort. Doesn't matter though. People, including myself, still like and read your blog.

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  4. We would be in agreement Andrew; unfortunately my capabilities are slipping - in that, as in much else.

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    1. Funny you mention that Jac. My spelling seems to be deteriorating. Is it spell checker? Is it ageing?

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    2. Funny but true: Shortly after replying to this I received a request to be a beta reader for a writer of 'speculative' fiction. The person tells a great story but oi! the spelling!

      Methinks it's a combination of spell checker, and being far beyond primary school... in my case, anyway.

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    3. Tricky Jac. You will we tempted to rewrite.

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  5. Andrew, English is easy comparing to Polish which is one of the most difficult language in the world

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    1. Thanks for the warning Gosia. What are its roots? Germanic, as English is?

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  6. Is "Writers" possessive, for festival, or is Writers simply a plural use, for instance its not a festival for one writer but for many.

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    1. Strayer, you had me wondering for a moment. I will sound like I know all about grammar but I don't. But with plural possessive, the apostrophe goes after the s. If it was one writer, the apostrophe would be before the s but of course that would be silly as one writer would not have a festival. It could be, a writer's festival, if it was one person.

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  7. It's plural, but I don't think possessive, so Writers without the apostrophe is correct.

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    1. River, you are challenging the status quo of agreement with what I said. Whose festival is it? I wish I had confidence that I am right. Ok, it is a festival for the people put on by writers. I am not convinced that I have it right.

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  8. We see many words spelt incorrectly these day, it's at times I wonder where did they learn their English...I make spelling mistakes many times, some are typos, of course others are not..I often say things back the front :) but that's unique to me!

    It should be Writers'

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    1. Margaret, everyone makes mistakes at times and at times something can be correct but looks or reads oddly. I've never understood why the literacy stats for your home state are so poor.

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  9. They should do away with apostrophes altogether Andrew, damn confusing little beggars :) You'll (OK maybe we do need apostrophes) have to give me the nod when the male underwear parade is scheduled!

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    1. Grace, I think generally they could be done away with but it won't happen. The weather at the moment is unsuitable for an underwear parade at the moment. I think people would find it underwhelming, if you get my drift.

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  10. Today it's no excuse to write a word wrong, there is the spell checker ! What I always wrote wrong in my first posts was quite and quiet or fat up instead of fed up ! I am always happy if somebody tells me that I made a mistake. Compared to other languages English is easy ! My son's mothertongue is French because he made all his school life in French. But when he writes in French there are so many mistakes, unbelievable. When I told him that it is a shame, he started to write me in English. Believe it or not, he doesn't make mistakes in English, he is even better than I am. And he never had learned to write English in school !

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    1. That's really strange about your son, Gattina. I guess written French is harder to learn than written English.

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  11. Yes indeed there is the spell checker, so no excuses. And good points you've raised. Greetings!

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    1. Blogoratti, while spell checker is useful, it is far from perfect and at times you need a reasonable knowledge of English to make a spelling choice offered for a wrongly spelt word. Also, there is English English and American English differences, with Australia caught between the two.

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  12. Interesting question Andrew! I checked the major Festivals around Australia and found that Sydney, Adelaide and Byron Bay use an apostrophe and the reminder do not. The Australian Government as usual has a foot in each camp using Writer's in the heading of it's website about these festivals and Writers' in the text!

    My inclination is that these festivals are a gathering of writers, concern writing and the subjects written about so I would go without the apostrophe.

    In another arena there are Film Festivals not Films (or Films') Festivals.

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    1. Even as I post the above I waver. I certainly would have been taught Sydney Writers' Festival at school.

      The vagaries of the English language.

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    2. Victor, what you were taught at school is good enough for me. I'm just a bit surprised that given the nature of the festival it is not perfectly correct but as I said, stylistically it looks better without.

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