The linguist in me just loves articles like this. Be sure to read the comments to the previous article as well, I got many a good laugh reading the discussion going back and forth in defence of the English spelling. And don’t miss the reference to Finnish – although the thing about not having any spelling tests in Finland is not true (unless they’ve changed the education system since the 70′s and 80′s when I went to school).

My pet peeve with the apostrophe is that many people use the acute accent instead of the real apostrophe (Nit-picking? Oh absolutely, guilty as charged!). It makes a big difference – just compare it´s and it’s. In my eyes that extra space around the acute accent is a disruption to the natural flow of the language, it feels like a hiccup. In the English and Swedish and many other Western keyboard layouts, the apostrophe is even easier to reach than the accent. So why reach for the accent at all when the real thing is much closer?

P.S. In my defence, I’ve spent 6 years of my life studying languages at university and even a small mistake in spelling was a make or break deal. You have no idea how many times I proof-read these blog entries before I post them…! The word you’re looking for is “pilkunviilaus”.

P.P.S. No I don’t grade anyone else’s spellings. I was a student, not a teacher!

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6 Responses

  1. Rane Olsen says:

    Oh, but Minna, the exact and more widespread word is something else than “pilkunviilaus”. -Though better not to say it out loud :P Btw, I love the word “nitpicking”, it’s just so hilarious :D

    Just my 2 eurocents.

  2. Miika says:

    I read the article earlier just as well and had pretty good laugh. To be honest, sometimes I wonder if non-native english speakers write better english than the natives (now this is what I see at work quite often).

    Next you could do is to explain me how to use semicolon, so I could for once in my lifetime write sofisticated sentense please :D

    (No apostrophes here, mission accomplished!)

  3. Minna says:

    Rane, yes, I’m familiar with that other term… and just like you, I decided against using it! ;)

    Miika, I used to be a big fan of the semicolon… then I learned to use the dash instead. The secret to using the dash with success is to use it sparingly – otherwise the text becomes too choppy to read. The semicolon has much the same effect; in case you haven’t noticed, I often mix and match them in my blog posts. :D

    And yes, many times it’s the native speakers who treat their own language the worst. I’ve also seen it at work, LOL!

  4. Rane Olsen says:

    Oh noes, you make me miss the good ole’ times @ Ljusdal :D Some great people there, most if them not that great :P

  5. iro says:

    [tiny cough]
    And where does this leave us bilinguals, then?
    I’d like to think whatever text I produce is quite perfect. ;)

  6. Minna says:

    Hey I only said that I don’t like the acute accent used where the apostrophe is the correct character! ;)

    I’m sure I wouldn’t be getting full marks for my spelling and grammar if my old English teachers got their hands on my blog, but I do nail my apostrophes. Or was it apostrophe’s? Apostrophe´s…?

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