Of spellings and punctuation...

January 29, 2006

I wonder why the younger generation’s spellings are so…well…I feel like saying bad, but it would be better to say…different? We were taught that spelling was of paramount importance as was punctuation. We were given that classic example of how punctuation could invert the meaning of a sentence…

A man said a woman is nothing.

with one set of punctuation marks, the woman is relegated to nothingness, but with another set of punctuation marks, the sentence reads,

“A man,” said a woman, “is nothing.”

I find that so many young adults now routinely misspell words.I have read “proffesor”, (professor)”rejuvination” (rejuvenation), “explination”(explanation),”defanite”(definite) and myriad other misspelt terms everywhere.

And the use of the apostrophe is on an apparently “think of it and shove it in” kind of basis. Every plural sometimes seems to be spelt with apostrophes, where they are NOT needed. “Bird’s” for Birds, for example. And of course, no one ever seems to know when it should be “its” and when it should be “it’s”…we were taught that ‘s was to signify the possessive….Geeta’s book, the boy’s pen, and so on, or to stand for “it is”…It’s a nice day, for example. But now, everywhere, I see that the apostrophe makes its (that’s correct here; it should be “its” and NOT it’s…a neuter gender possessive doesn’t take the apostrophe!) appearance wherever the writer chooses to bung it in.

I try and tell myself that ulitmately, the object of language is to communicate, and all this is nitpicking…but I wonder how the youngsters score on grammar and punctuation nowadays, or whether they are marked for it at all. We used to have marks knocked off for lapses of grammar no matter what the subject was….perhaps this is part of the evolution of the language, like American and Brit spellings and pronunciation.