Re: Corpora: Apostrophes

Date: Wed Jan 02 2002 - 21:18:16 MET

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           I just wanted to let you know that I found your posting of the 19th
    very interesting. I speak French and was amused by the 'pin's' story. It
    makes perfect sense to (mis)use the apostrophe in this case to make the
    intended English pronunciation clear. It's actually pretty clever.
           As for your comment about the genitive use of the apostrophe being
    easy to teach, I assure you that in my experience it most certainly is not.
    I teach English to speakers of other languages (university level) and to
    native speakers (also at the university level) who have not, for whatever
    reasons, been successful in mastering the basics of English composition. By
    far and away, the latter group is the most challenging when it comes to
    teaching apostrophe use. This leads me to believe that understanding how to
    use apostrophes correctly requires the acquisition of some fundamental
    concepts which, if muddled early on are much harder to acquire later.
    Non-native speakers seem to have an easier time acquiring the genitive
    apostrophe because it is a new concept (= a new correspondence: 's =
           I guess that misuse of apostrophes, particularly among native speakers
    and particularly when the apostrophe is added where it should not be (as
    opposed to omitted) bothers me so much because to my eye, it does not
    represent a punctuation error as much as an error in logic. When I see
    something like 'Please leave your package's at the front desk', it's hard to
    know if the 's, in the mind of the writer, is referring weirdly back to the
    possessive adjective, or denoting more than one package, or what. As an
    English teacher, that bothers me. Enfin bref, as the French say, the
    apostrophe is a tiny mark that represents a fairly complex concept. Students
    sometimes think I am nitpicking when I point it out, but I continue to point
    it out because for me, its misuse suggests muddled thinking.

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