Why Do People

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by StrangerInAStrangeLand, May 9, 2015.

  1. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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    Why do people put apostrophes in plural words?
     
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Because there is no difference in pronunciation among, for example, friends, friend's and friends'.

    It can be argued that the apostrophe is utterly useless in 99% of its applications. Would any of us mispronounce cant, wheres, theyd, didnt, or youll if the apostrophe were missing?
     
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  5. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Because people are retarded and that portion of our school system is non-operational.
     
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  7. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    "Cant" is pronounced differently to "can't" in quite a bit of England... Cant is a short a (as in pan), Can't is a long a (as in Mars).

    I'm all for the correct use of apostrophes. Actually makes me shudder slightly when I see it misused.
     
  8. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    In here, I have read;
    their, there, and the're
    used inappropriately and, seemingly interchangeable.

    (If you wanted perfect: You've come to the wrong place.)
     
  9. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    Apostrophes help differentiate possessive, plural and conjunctions. The "s" in Friends is plural, friend's denotes singular possessive, friends' is plural possessive, while can't is a conjunction. The first three sound the same in speech, but in reading these are three different things.
     
  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    We don't use that word in American English. I'd wager that more than 99% of our people have no idea what it means.

    And by the way, the few of us in America who actually use the noun "cant" pronounce it the same as "can't."
    Well sure. I make a living as a writer and/or editor, so I feel the same way. But I also recognize the fact that the apostrophe causes most Americans more grief than service.
    Yet there are no apostrophes in the spoken language, and nobody ever misunderstands those homophones.
    No, it's a verb... or to be precise: a contraction of a verb with an adverb.
    They mean three different things in speech too. Somehow we seem to distinguish homophones.

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  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    That's 'cos you don't speak the Queen's English - or BBC English - or Received Pronunciation etc.
    Studies have shown that when reading we can also quickly understand words that have had their letters jumbled, as long as the first and last letters are as in the correct spelling. So quickly, in fact, that it might not actually slow down your reading!

    So if I wtore taht tihs seetnnce is an emlxape of taht, you mghit uerndtsnad.

    The brain is a funny thing in how it can make sense of things without any apparent effort.
    Often to our detriment (e.g. illusions) in making things seem as they are not.

    And here we are, wondering or concerned about the value of apostrophes in the written language.

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  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I have seen no reports on the results of these tests when the words include apostrophes.
     
  13. TBodillia Registered Senior Member

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    I don't know if I'd agree that 99% have no idea what it means. I know cant as an oblique angle (or to set at an angle) and as a private language. I know of the private language definition from RPGs. I'd say some don't realize cantilever is from cant+lever, but I'm not sure how many people know what cantilever is.

    But, the dictionary does list the pronunciation as kant/kahnt. It's the same with some people pronouncing ant & aunt differently. I'm a can't, cant, ant, aunt all sounding the same kind of guy. And now I'm wondering how the kahnt people pronounce cantilever.
     
  14. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Short 'a'.
    But then I also pronounce grass and pass with a long 'a' but mass with a short 'a'.
    And 'aunt' is a like 'ant' but with a long 'a'.

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  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Specifically, it's a deliberately modified version of a normal language used by a group to thwart understanding by outsiders. The slang of criminals, with numerous words having special meanings, is a perfect example, and one whose purpose has been largely sabotaged by movies about criminals.

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    The cant most studied by linguists is Shelta, the speech of the Irish Travellers, who are sometimes referred to as gypsies although they seem not to have the correct DNA for that. It is based on English, with many Gaelic words substituting for English words, also including a number of Roma ("Gypsy") words, and in addition many phonetic tricks such as interchanging consonants within a word. "Bloke" is a Shelta word.

    The best-known cant is Pig Latin, or "Ig-pay Atin-lay." It is so well-known that it fails in its duty to thwart understanding by anyone over age ten--at least here in the USA.
    The vast majority of Americans use the "short A" pronunciation (e.g.,"ant") in all of those words. Only in a few communities with roots going back beyond the 19th century, such as Boston, will you hear what the rest of us regard as the British pronunciation--or in families with roots in those communities.

    Since the end of World War II, when radio receivers became universal in all American homes, and a few years later TV sets did the same, the hybrid Hollywood-Manhattan accent (the two network broadcast centers) that dominates the air waves has been replacing regional accents. Another vector in this phenomenon is the increased mobility of the population as people change jobs more often.

    You can still hear a different version of American English in the South, but it's understandable. It was not like this in the 1950s. For me, in those days, understanding a Southerner was almost as difficult as understanding an Englishman.
     
  16. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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    I have known adults in the US who seem unable to understand Pig Latin even after it is explained.

    In the 1950s and now some find most Southerners much easier to understand than most people in or from Bahsten or Noo Yawk.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 22, 2015
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    You have to grow up with it. Like "real" languages, it's much easier to learn in childhood.
    The most common reason that people from other regions find New Yorkers difficult to understand is that they speak much faster than most of us. This is especially true of Southerners, who generally speak more slowly than most other Americans.

    Bostonians from old families often retain a few phonetic traits from their British ancestors. Non-rhoticism, for example: "I didn't weyah shawts to the potty," instead of "I didn't wear shorts to the party." I notice that producers of TV shows set in Boston (Ally McBeal, etc.) are careful to avoid having any of their characters speak that way.
     
  18. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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    Why do people say coo-operate & zoo-ology?

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  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    "Zoology" looks like it was derived from "zoo," so we pronounce it the same way. Ironically, it's the other way around: "zoo" was derived from "zoology": an abbreviation for "zoological park." Well-educated people are more likely to pronounce it correctly: zoh - ology. Especially scientists, and of course all zoologists.

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    Obviously the word "zoo" must be pronounced as a monosyllable "zu," and people think this gives them license to carry the phonetics over to any word that begins with "zoo-".

    As for "cooperate," I have never encountered the pronunciation you present. Everyone I've ever known pronounces it as koh - operate.

    The "co-" prefix is so common in English that we tend to recognize it as a prefix and pronounce it as one.

    But "zo-" is not a prefix. We realize that the first syllable in "zoning" and "Zoroastrian" is an integral part of the word, not a prefix.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2015
  20. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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    Today a TV news reporter said "Charges are not being filed against her because she is coo-operating with police".

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  21. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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    I meant to have coo-ordinate in there too.

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  22. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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    .
    Why do people say "I hate hypocrites" when what they hate is hypocrite talk & behavior rather than the person?

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  23. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Wow, I've never heard that one.
     

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