Tag Archives: punctuation

1734. A misplaced apostrophe

(The other day someone pointed out that I had a misplaced apostrophe. This story is to express my gratitude.)

A change is as good as a holiday said Arnie. He was a hitman and was sick to death of poisoning people. This new assignment should provide a bit of variety. Not that he wasn’t good at poisoning; it was his speciality. It was why he received most of his jobs. He had a reputation for poisoning.

But this new assignment not only paid well, but provided a welcome change.

Extremely rich parents of a spoilt teen – in this case a boy – had sent him to an exclusive private school. The boy – whose name was Constantine – was a star sportsman. He was the brightest baseball hope the school had had in years. He was headed for professionalism and the Baseball Hall of Fame. How proud could parents be?

The trouble was that Constantine’s English teacher was a crabby old bag. She was a stickler for correct punctuation no matter what. Misplaced apostrophes were her greatest hate. The over use of the exclamation mark was another error to be condemned. (Not that Constantine, being a sportsman, bothered to use the exclamation mark!) A dash was not a comma; a semicolon was not the same as a colon. Constantine would mess up his punctuation just to annoy the living daylights out of her. It worked too well.

When Constantine was due to attend a Baseball Summer Camp, Ms Virginia Funk – for that was the teacher’s name – wrote to the Summer Camp and said, “Constantine’s outstanding contribution to schoolboy baseball is in inverse proportion to his application to his studies. I would recommend he not be accepted into the Summer Baseball Camp.”

The Baseball Summer Camp, having too many applicants, denied Constantine’s application. And that is why Arnie was hired as a hitman. Ms Virginia Funk was dead meat. She would have no reason to prepare classes for the following academic year. Arnie’s problem was that – Ms Virginia Funk being an English teacher – he wanted to get rid of her in creative a fashion as possible; for variety is the spice of life.

First, he would make her stew a bit. He sent her a handwritten note that said “Its you’re last day.” Virginia was outraged. There should be an apostrophe in “It’s”, she declared. That’s when Arnie saw red. His creativity could wait for another day. He took his bag of poisonous chemicals, knocked on her door, changed his mind, and shot her point blank.

He was well paid. And although some might think that Constantine’s parents and Arnie were a bit over the top, at least Ms Virginia Funk didn’t suffer needlessly.

1708. The Oxford Comma

Even though Aneliese was American and Quentin was British they managed to forge a relationship that spanned across the great Atlantic Ocean, and they married. The marriage was made in heaven, although heaven had omitted one important factor: Analiese used the Oxford Comma and Quentin didn’t.

For those who don’t give much of a hoot about what the Oxford Comma is, it is the comma that precedes the final “and” in a list. For example: The flag is red, white, and blue. That’s what Aneliese would write. Quentin would write: The flag is red, white and blue (without the second comma).

For each academic tome that Aneliese produced to prove her point, Quentin would provide another. The discussion thundered throughout their marriage, throughout the births of their six children, throughout retirement and venerable age. Eventually they both died. Their grown children planned the tombstone inscription:

Aneliese and Quentin, loved parents of Tom, Maggie, Jenny, Ernie, Zach, and Lucy.
Aneliese and Quentin, loved parents of Tom, Maggie, Jenny, Ernie, Zach and Lucy.
Aneliese and Quentin, loved parents of Tom, Maggie, Jenny, Ernie, Zach, and Lucy.
Aneliese and Quentin, loved parents of Tom, Maggie, Jenny, Ernie, Zach and Lucy.
Aneliese and Quentin, loved parents of Tom, Maggie, Jenny, Ernie, Zach, and Lucy.

The tombstone awaits. Discussion rages.

1263. Corectly speled

It’s such a sad indictment of our modern, and by modern I mean say roughly in the last hundred and fifty years, education system which, unlike that experienced by great stylists such as John Ruskin, Lytton Strachey and Charles Kingsley, and even Cardinal Newman although he ever so slightly dirtied his copybook by going over to Rome, was the norm and produced writers with flair who knew how to write both with a flourish and with something to say, and I am including Charles Dickens in that list although he was something of a popularist in reality, rather like William Makepeace Thackeray possibly, to say nothing of the women who wrote, such as Elizabeth Gaskell, the Brontes, and George Eliot, although being women they wrote with style but very little depth of thought, has produced few who can compose with skill and in a manner that highlights beautifully the intricacies of the English language not in simple subject-verb-object sentences but writing that is both complex and striking, for unfortunately the contemporary reader appears to have the inability not to comprehend anything longer than three words in a sentence and that neither hand-writen nor corectly speled.