Thursday 27 January 2011

Working in Ottawa today --The Oxford quote

Good morning folks,

This morning I am on my way to spend the day working in Ottawa.

In the Globe and Mail today in Russel Smith's column.. prior to continuing I'll mention that I can't remember anything else that he has written, but his byline pic looks familiar.  In his column he has revealed what sounds like a fairly informal poll and study into his reader's habit regarding the double space after a period and the use of serial commas and finally the practice of including final punctuation within quoted text.

I use the double space after a period.  It is what I learned as correct.  However it seems that it is outdated and that editors and proofreaders hate them.  Well, tough.  I will still use them, in fact, I may even end sentences early.  Just so that I can use more of them.  Like this.  Many readers agreed.

The next item was the serial quote, often called the Oxford quote. It works like this, here is a list of several items, an apple, and orange, a pear, and an orangutan.  The comma after the pear it seems is actively advised against by the Canadian Press Stylebook.  Sometimes I use it, other times I don't.  I find it very useful when listing sets of conjoined items, such as a pear and an apple, a donkey and a goat, and two sheep.  There was no consensus among the readers.

Finally, the final punctuation within the quote.  This is referring to quotations at the end of a sentence such as Jack the Ripper said, "That's a lovely pendant you are wearing, may I touch it?"   The capitalized "the" is then presumably how the reader knows that I have started a new sentence.  I prefer to include what ever punctuation as appropriate for the quote, but then to quote myself, "to finish my own sentence as I damn well please!".  Russel did not reveal how his readers responded, but added that consistency was the key.

Have a good day, and please work on your spelling and punctuation.

Thursday 13 January 2011

Working in Ottawa today --Auditory challenged swan

In the National Post on page A5 is a brief news article of an Ontario man from Perth South that was sentenced to 7 days, fined $1000, 60 hour community service and 2 years probation for killing a mute swan.

Now when I read that my first thought was, how did he know it was mute, had he spoke to it and the swan had not replied which caused feeling of being snubbed, leading to ire, rage and ultimately the murder?

(I realize that murder is a legal term reserved for the illegal killing of a human, but grant me some poetic licence here)

And then I wondered how the authorities were aware of the swan's auditory communicatively challenged state, was there a registry for this sort of thing?

But.. as I continued reading, the article explained that "the mute swan is less vocal than other members of its family.."

Ah!  "is less" not "was less", the mute swan refers not to the individual swan that was killed but to a species or sub-species of swan.  Isn't that what capital 'M's are for?

(Yes, while complaining about another writer's syntax I ended a sentence with a preposition, again, grant me some poetic licence)

Have a good day, and leave the swans alone.

Sent from my BlackBerry wireless handheld -- Envoyé de mon sans fil portatif BlackBerry