Thursday, 9 October 2014

9th October 2014 - Punctuation and Pain

Thought for the day : "It's hard to explain puns to kleptomaniacs as they always take things literally"

I berated a friend on Facebook today for saying "we're" when he meant "were". It was a gentle berate, but was worth a quick post to point out the misuse of the apostrophe. As I do not have a smart phone, or similar device and rarely manage to see my faithful old Nokia well enough to text and my fingers may have the dexterity to play guitar and zither, but are totally defeated by the buttons on the mobile, I am rarely bothered by "autocorrect". Indeed, my main auto correct is happening at the moment as I wait to hear how much the camper and Terrano will cost me to complete their MOT's !!!

But it seems that the autocorrect on my friend's phone had caused the misuse of the small "comma in the sky"!  It occurred to me that Word and my old steam driven desk top machine had managed to put little green squiggles on my writing for years to suggest that the grammar could be improved... Surely, with all the innovations and apps available for the new technology, and the fact that something the size of a credit card has 10 times the computing power of my fairly obsolete (and very slow) machine, it cannot be beyond the scope of these machines to learn the basic rules of grammar???

How do you soothe a Grammar Nazi ?  Say "There , their, they're!!"

But, back to this elusive app.... The rules of English are, I accept a little more complicated than some of our other languages - other than the use of the word THE which is the same every time - compare to the German Die Der Das, Den Dem etc...  The French La and Le ...  But in English it is the spelling that is often the most complicated - but if as my friend states, autocorrect changed his WERE to WE'RE  then some grammatical rule is being activated in the same way as predictive text works..
I did that just to annoy !!! (yes - it IS wrong)

Now predictive text can also be annoying. My wife hates it. I know why. It is because she needs to look at the word while it is being typed. Most of us are capable of typing the entire word and then checking to see if it got it right and use the "switch" button to rotate through the possible options... She cannot! She has to look as each button is pressed and assumes that the machine has got it wrong as it is guessing the word based upon keys pressed already - rather than the whole word as she is expecting. I have to sit quietly as her expressions of exasperation encroach despair and anger - for any attempt to explain, correct or encourage would reduce our chances of getting to our 42nd wedding anniversary next August!!
Predictive Text can be annoying - but we (everyone other than my wife) know that it works - it has fixed rules and will get to the point where it will list every option based upon the key presses made...

Why can't auto-correct do something similar??
Which brings me to another problem - when to use the hyphen??  I have so far used auto correct, autocorrect  and auto-correct. My machine does not like the second of these, but it corrects with American English so I have to ignore its spelling  most of the time anyway...  A quick Google search shows all three versions in quick succession - I wonder whether autocorrect would auto-correct the words auto correct? Something worth thinking about!!!

But as well as Grammar, punctuation is important but sadly little use in texts. I always include a question mark or full stop on my texts - it seems only polite. I rarely see such additions on texts I receive...

So, my challenge is out... Write an App that will look at the context of the sentence as it builds, in the same way that autocorrect will change its mind as more letters are added, and choose the correct spelling based upon the simple rules of grammar...  Can't be that hard can it??

On occasion I give up... In the Lodge building of Longscar Lodge  No 6203 - describing itself as "the hippest, most happening Masonic Lodge in Hartlepool"... I found the following sign in the bar....

I just ask "from the bar's what ?"
So, maybe it is time to add a few bits of punctuation that that seem to have fallen out of use..  I found this list which I think may be helpful - including the method of getting the various signs onto the screen or paper.. I copy the blog content here...

"You know the question mark, exclamation point, and period, but have you heard of the love point? How about the acclamation point? If you haven’t, the infographic below will introduce you to each one, and they’ll even tell you how to enter them on your computer.
You just might learn a new way to express yourself, even if no one else will understand what you are trying to say."

So there you have it...

While I look to a glass of Chateau 41 - I invite you to discuss my use or misuse of quotation marks in this blog...  Good Luck...

Old Time Religion

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