Phone messages – rushed numbers

I suppose this has happened to all of us.  You find a voicemail has been left for you.  Upon listening to it, you wade through lots of “um..” and “ah…”, as the caller’s thought processes are revealed in more detail than you ever wanted to experience.  Then, at the end, they leave their call-back number… at light speed!  So, while you could easily skip the bulk of the message, the single most important part of it is rushed and unintelligible even after repeated playbacks.  The caller has therefore failed in their most basic task; to obtain a call back from you.  Oh sure, they know their number by heart, but you don’t, or they wouldn’t need to leave it, would they?

This has bugged me for years, and so whenever I leave a message, and get to that all important point, I consciously slow down when I leave my number.  I doubt anybody notices, or appreciates the little gesture, but it makes me feel like a better human being.


When to use an apostrophe

Ok, so perhaps I’m a little overly sensitive on this one, but apostrophe mis-use really drives me bonkers!  (yes, yes, it’s a short drive, thank you).

I can’t believe that people just don’t get the very simple rules on when to use and when NOT to use an apostrophe.  It seems that the great unwashed seem to feel that it’s seasoning which can be tossed in whenever it looks neat, and that it’s how you make something plural.  (groan)

Here’s a really great page which spells it out in graphic detail:

However, in a nutshell: An apostrophe does not make something plural.  Writing “we have 4 unit’s in our apartment building” is just plain wrong.  Yet, you’ll see it all over the web, and all over storefront advertising.

An apostrophe basically has two uses; showing possession, or replacing missing letters in a contraction.

An example of possession would be: “I like Joe’s car” (which could be rewritten: I like the car belonging to Joe).  You can use this rewriting trick to see if an apostrophe is appropriate.  In our example about apartment units above, you can’t rewrite this way because since “unit” doesn’t possess anything, it wouldn’t make sense.  So, that’s how you know not to use an apostrophe in that case.

An example of a contraction would be “I don’t understand“.  “Don’t” is a contraction of “Do Not”.  The apostrophe takes the place of the missing “o”.  In our apartment example above, there are clearly no missing letters, so again, the apostrophe does not belong.  Poor apostrophe.  We can make it up to him by correctly using him in “it’s fun to get it right“.  You can rewrite that one with the missing letter put back in: “it is fun to get it right“.  That makes perfect sense, so it’s okay to use an apostrophe. (Ooo… was that one correct?  Try to rewrite it and see)

Could care less?

This one is mainly spoken, but still appalling.  The phrase should be “I couldn’t care less”.  This makes perfect sense as it states that it would not be possible for you to care less about something, and so it must be completely at the bottom of your mental totem-pole.

However, how many times have you heard “I could care less”.  People will even vehemently defend this as being correct!  What this means is that it IS possible for something to be less significant to you than whatever it is you are discussing.  So, this ascribes importance, where the whole point is to say that whatever it is has NO importance.

Sight vs site

It’s “web site”, not “web sight”.  This phrase was coined to say “this is the place where this web content exists”.  “sight” makes no sense at all.  I suspect this has become common because people hear somebody talk about a “web site” and never see it written down.  So, let’s blame the English language with it’s ridiculous propensity to have words that sound the same but mean different things.  Still, people who get this wrong should still be beaten mercilessly with a fungo bat.

Perhaps people are reading less?

Here’s my theory: People are reading less and spending more time watching TV/Movies.

Sure, this may help to expand vocabulary, but does very little for spelling or grammar.  When I was a kid, I used to read voraciously.  As a result, I tend to notice spelling and grammatical errors without trying.

Most of the reading kids are doing these days seems to be on-line.  If they are reading Wikipedia or other such things, then the quality is fairly high, and it would seem to be a benefit.  However, prowling Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Twitter, and other dross merely exposes them to other people’s sloppy writing.