Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Time off for good grammar

Just been sent an e mail which states:

"All students should notify there tutors in advance if there are going to be absent from College for Eid celebrations."

The way I see it is that there are three homonyms available here: their, there and they're. If they're aware of the three then at each stage their chances of getting it right are 1 in 3 even if their understanding of the difference is zero. So I suppose the odds have worked against them twice within 6 words. I have little doubt that some colleague who is even more pedantic than me will point it out (directly I mean rather than on some random blog that no-one reads). Whether they are shamed by this or see it as inconsequential may well be determined by a range of factors such as age and innate defensiveness. All I know is that I get embarrassed by my 'typos' but I'm glad when S and C and mum (and my boy) point them out.

This reminded me of one of those supposedly genuine collections of letters full of mistakes and ambiguities. I used to use these with English GCSE students: I'd get them to re-write them and eradicate all the nonsense. The worrying thing was that half the time they'd say: " There's nothing wrong with this one."

1. Dear School: Please excuse John from being absent on Jan. 28, 29, 30, 31,32, and also 33.
2. Please excuse Dianne from being absent yesterday. She was in bed with gramps.
3. Please excuse Johnnie for being. It was his father's fault.
4. Chris will not be in school because he has an acre in his side.
5. John has been absent because he had two teeth taken off his face.
6. Excuse Gloria. She has been under the doctor.
7. Lillie was absent from school yesterday because she had a going over.
8. My son is under the doctor's care and should not take fizical ed. Please execute him.
9. Carlos was absent yesterday because he was playing football. He was hit in the growing part.
10. My daughter was absent yesterday because she was tired. She spent this weekend with the Marines.
11. Please excuse Joyce from P.E. for a few days. Yesterday she fell off a tree and misplaced her hip.

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