1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Can I borrow the super punctuation skills of an English teacher, please?

Discussion in 'English' started by CaptGrimesRetd, Mar 21, 2011.

  1. CaptGrimesRetd

    CaptGrimesRetd Occasional commenter

    You just might be able to get away with the modern usage of "not" -
    Pelagia was amused by the situation - not! So the cat. . .
  2. NQT1986

    NQT1986 Occasional commenter

    Thank you so much for your replies! The answer they gave was

    Pelagia was amused by the situation-not so the cat.

    We were just wondering what the rationale was behind using a dash!?

    Any thoughts?
  3. I have been teaching English for almost sixteen years now. I would tend to use a semi-colon here:
    Pelagia was amused by the situation; not so the cat.
  4. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    I'd prefer colon to semi-colon because "not so the cat" doesn't have the same grammatical status as the first part of the sentence. Also, the colon emphasises the contrast in the meaning. A dash is OK.
  5. I think a dash is better. Use a dash to show a sudden, surprising or unexpected idea.It's surprising that the cat,being a cat, should have the idea at all.

  6. Facetious

    Facetious New commenter

    As the rule in such a situation would suggest that a clause should be either side of the semicolon, I would say the dash is more appropriate.
  7. marlin

    marlin Star commenter

    I was going to suggest a dash - but was too scared to put my head above the parapet!
  8. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    English is not short of grammar rules, masha. Ask an English speaker in which order to place "little" and "red" in between "the" and "book". How do they know what's right? Because it's a rule, one of very, very many.
    But this was a question about punctuation. Grammar is relevant here, though, because the semi-colon is used to separate grammatically equivalent structures and so it would not be regulation here.
    Colon or dash would be in accord with normal practice.
  9. U've just confirmed the rulelesssness of English.
    What's 'normal' changes over time in all languages. Not so long ago
    'all ways, bicause, all be it' were normal.
    I am doing my bit to make u for you normal, on the model of I.
  10. The colon is often used to indicate a strong pause within a sentence. It is like a balance-it shows the two parts of the sentence are equal.
    (Note my crafty use of the dash is the sentence above!)
    The colon may also be used to introduce a list and before a long quotation or a speech.

    It could be argued that the choice between a colon and a dash is a matter of style. Colons and dashes can connect two main clauses, or they can connect a main clause to a word or phrase. We use colons or dashes to indicate that we are providing further details.
    So, what is the difference between when to use a dash and when to use a colon? It is generally agreed that a dash is less formal than a colon. Therefore, dashes are rarely seen in academic or business writing.

  11. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    My preference in this case would be the colon - but if the general tenor of the context were a frivolous one, then the colon would seem to be too ponderous (unless you were using it ironically!)
  12. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    What a profoundly ignorant and stupid remark.
  13. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    Nothing new there, then.
  14. Your view of me is irrelevant.
    Anyone who is interested in understanding
    why so many children find learning to read English difficult,
    why there has been so much debate about how best to teach this skill and
    why government after government has tried to reduce functional illiteracy and spelt billions to little effect,
    should look at englishspellingproblems.co.uk/html/sight_words.html
    It is difficult to find a universally effective teaching method for any skill which is exceptionally difficult. Learning to read and write English is much more difficult than any other language with an alphabetic writing system.
    I doubt that I am the person to bring about improvements to English spelling, but my work has helped to make more people aware of how uniquely irregular English spelling is and what problems it causes, no matter how much this irritates the likes of u.
  15. Masha, the things you state and the way that you write them, is what is ridiculous.
    Functional literacy is a problem, I grant you, but it is far more complex than adopting the letter U for the word you. I suggest that you learn a little about the effects that social class and family cirumstances have on learning.
    I teach the English national curriculum in an international school. Of 672 pupils, only two are British and we only have a couple of other native English speakers. As an open access school, we accept Chinese children, who join us with little or no English, and have many Arabic and Korean children as well as those whose mother tongue uses the Roman alphabet. They learn English quickly and easily, including the spelling, I can assure you. (Our pass rate in IGCSE and A level is excellent) Why do these children learn to write accurate expressive English, when many in Britain, born to the language, do not?......They are from comfortable backgrounds, by and large, and have parents who are literate and who encourage learning. They are literate in their mother tongues, and have a real passion for learning.

    The fact, Masha, that you insist on pasting the contents of your website and blog on this forum, is indeed something which irritates me. I am not alone in this.

  16. Masha is right, though, about the inconsistency of our spelling, and about the comparative difficulty that children have learning to read and write it correctly. Philip Seymour's 2001 study showed that English speakers took on average two and half times longer to acquire basic elements of literacy than the average speaker of other European languages (and he looked at 15 European countries in all). See http://www.englishspellingsociety.org/news/media/seymour.php. Before you ask, Finnish was the easiest. This has nothing to do with the ease of the language in itself: Finnish is pretty difficult for most non-Finns to learn (other than Hungarians and Estonians, presumably), and has a massively complex case system - but there's almost complete grapheme-phoneme correspondence, unlike our own dear language.
    Our difficulties in spelling derive from our chequered linguistic history: the Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Normans and various later pedants, together with the Great Vowel Shift, have really b***ered things up orthographically. So far, Masha's correct - but don't rely on her webpage for correct history, as a good proportion of her comments are either inaccurate or just plain wrong, and sometimes quite ridiculous. (Chaucer tried to give English a consistent spelling system? Huh? We haven't a clue how Chaucer spelt anything, since all surviving mss were written after his death. And I've heard the Catholic Church blamed for a fair number of things, but never for the vagaries of our orthography - go to http://www.englishspellingproblems.co.uk/html/history.html if you don't believe me.)
  17. The Church did not set out intentionally to make English spelling any worse than early scribes and the first printers of English books already had, but it rejected Tyndale's offer to translate the bible into English - See http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/william-tyndale.html
    Tyndale therefore went abroad where his bibles were also printed and typeset by people who rarely spoke a word of English. It really does not require a great stretch of imagination to visualise the effect of this on the consistency of English spelling.
    There is no doubt whatsoever that English spelling had reached its worst state of randomness and inconsistency near the end of the 16th C. This then led to widespread calls for standardisation.
  18. Masha, the depth of your ignorance of the English language and of history are truly astounding. The fact that you state on your website (link via previous poster) that Latin was introduced during the 16th and 17th centuries, and that previously, Latin had been introduced via Norman French, really sums up your complete lack of any true knowledge and understanding of how English evolved in the first place.
    Your analysis of Tyndale's Bibles is even worse.
    My advice: go and read some real books, Masha, and learn something before you spout any more of your nonsense here.
  19. Perhaps u should take your own advice? Especially to read some books about Tyndale and also the 100 page introduction to W Pollard's 1906 faximile edition of the King James bible which gives a very detailed account of the history of English bibles between 1525 - 1611, with lots of original texts and their different spellings.
    On the History of English spelling, there is really only one book, and not a particularly good one: Donald Scragg's Phd thesis. That's why I spent over 10 years researching the subject myself. So I know quite a bit about it, including the early history of England and the English language.
    But that is irrelevant to the history of current English spelling conventions, because modern English did not begin to get established until the 2nd half of the 14th century, after a series of plagues around 1350 and the end of the 100 years war with France around 1430.
    Henry IV in 1399 was the first English King after 1066 to claim the English crown in English again. This was of great help in re-establishing English as the official language of England, but Richard II's sponsorship and protection of Chaucer helped too.
    This new English, which now survives almost entirely only in the writings of Chaucer, was mainly a mixture old German and Norman French. The renaissance then added to it many words from Latin and a few from Greek.
  20. Masha, well before the Norman French arrived, English was already a mongrel language: the lexicon was already building from words from Old Norse, Celtic languages, and LATIN.
    As my current thesis for my doctorate is about the development of modern English, I do know a little about it.
    ..and please, the word YOU is spelt y.o.u.


Share This Page