[LINK] grammar nazis

Ivan Trundle ivan at itrundle.com
Thu Oct 26 12:42:41 AEST 2006

On 26/10/2006, at 11:54 AM, Kim Holburn wrote:

> This is for those interested in grammar out there:  what do you  
> think of this?

Various style guides point out that clarity is the aim, and without  
this, how would anyone write about the number of a's and i's (the  
lower-case letters) in a sentence? Pluralising single letters and  
numbers with the addition of an apostrophe makes sense, because it  
makes things clear and unambiguous.

English is a living language, and demands the bending and reforming  
of rules. There was a time when the acronym 'LASER' was the only way  
to spell 'laser'. Times change.

Retaining the apostrophe for possessive use only is restrictive,  
though often confused. How else can we pluralise 'US' - other than to  
change to an attributive use? How would we write, "Delete all .exe's  
from the directory"?

Paul Brians makes bold and untested claims about 'standard English'  
to the point of being embarrassing, even given his PhD and 'Professor  
of English' assertions, and pleas to be careful not to be parochial.  
Here's a great line:

'My goal is to defend American standard usage from the bullying of  
non-American critics...'


> http://wsu.edu/~brians/errors/acronyms.html
>> One unusual modern use of the apostrophe is in plural acronyms,  
>> like “ICBM’s” “NGO’s” and “CD’s”. Since this pattern violates the  
>> rule that apostrophes are not used before an S indicating a  
>> plural, many people object to it. It is also perfectly legitimate  
>> to write “CDs,” etc. See also “50’s.” But the use of apostrophes  
>> with initialisms like “learn your ABC’s and “mind your P’s and  
>> Q’s” is now so universal as to be acceptable in almost any context.
>> Note that “acronym” was used originally only to label  
>> pronounceable abbreviations like “NATO,” but is now generally  
>> applied to all sorts of initialisms. Be aware that some people  
>> consider this extended definition of “acronym” to be an error.
> --
> Kim Holburn
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