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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Quality Work, Fare Prices"

Maybe it's because I was an English major in college. Perhaps it is because I was the Adams County School District 50 spelling champion when I was twelve years old. It could be that I am just fussy. Whatever the reason, I must admit that it drives me crazy that so many English-speakers can't write in their own language. I was considering blogging about this subject, but was worried that I might offend or embarrass some of my readers. But a sign I saw today made me just have to do it.

We were on the way home from a lab visit at my doctor's office when I spotted it. I can't tell you what type of business it is, but they promise to do quality work at fare prices. Do they mean they will provide their service for the cost of bus fare? Or do they mean that they will charge a reasonable, fair, price? It would really be a hoot if they were a printing business. Well, actually, more like a potential nightmare.

Earlier today I was online and clicked on a news story that was about a dog herding lions at a reserve in South Africa. I didn't even watch the brief video because the article stated that although collies are bred to herd cattle and sheep, this dog had to make due with lions. Due? Did he have to return them to the library? Would there be a huge fine if they were late? Or did he have to make it work with whatever was at hand, make do with lions instead of cows? And this in a news story! Proofreading, anyone?

I will be the first to tell you that English is a crazy, mixed-up language. I think that perhaps our schools aren't getting the job done right when it comes to teaching us how to use it in its written form. And let's face it, with all of the different ways to pronounce things, and all the words that sound the same but are spelled differently, it can be a challenge. Case in point: I want to read this book. I read this book. Reed/red, same spelling...madness. Will you think any less of me if I share some tips to make you seem like the brightest and best-read person amongst all of your friends?

Please put the groceries over there. Think of here and there, it's all about location, baby. They're going to meet us at the restaurant. The apostrophe means it's been shortened from they are. Susan and Jack lost a lot of their money in the stock market. Think of kids who want to inherit all kinds of stuff; the heirs want it all to be theirs. Your mom sure is funny. Think our. Ours belongs to us, yours belongs to you. You're late again! Again, we have that wacky apostrophe because it means you are.

I'm sorry about getting up on my soapbox. We all have to struggle with this difficult language every day. And I don't want you to think I am always wanting to correct others and their writing, or that I am a writing snob. That is just not the case. When it all comes down to brass tacks, I'd much rather have someone use the wrong word than refer to me by using a perfectly-spelled word that means a female canine. And at least with texting and instant messaging, and so on, we are writing and communicating with one another. So I guess I can live with it, if the prices are fare fair...