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Monday, May 20, 2024


In Natalie’s Words 12/28/2005

By Rick Racela

I remember feeling my chest tighten every time I received an email from one of my professors in Washington D.C. last fall.
I’d open it and scream at the top of my lungs. How could she do it? Why? Why? Why? For the love of God, the woman has a Ph.D!
I can understand a typo. I can forgive the occasional slip of the mind. But when someone repeatedly inserts an apostrophe after the “k” in the word “thanks,” I feel sick.
I’m not a grammar Nazi by any means. But how can I take my professors seriously if they can’t even master something as simple as when to use an apostrophe?
Looking over my brothers’ shoulders as they chat with their friends on AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) is an equally disturbing experience. “Tell your friend he’s using the wrong form of “your,” I’ll say to my brother, Daniel.
He doesn’t care though. Hardly anyone does (except maybe copy editors).
Correcting a friend’s poor grammar is a wasted effort. Replies typically include “So?” or “I’m a science major.” If you’re chatting on AIM, you might get something like “YOUR a freak.”
In the world of instant messaging, apostrophes are unnecessary  and “Ur” is an acceptable substitute for both “your” and “you’re.”  Is it laziness? Is it ignorance? It’s difficult to say.
I’ve even caught some of my fellow journalism majors making the most ridiculous grammatical errors, such as pairing a singular noun with a plural pronoun. For example, “The organization meets in their building.”
It’s tempting to break the rule during casual conversations, but writing a sentence like this is simply criminal. The singular noun, “organization,” calls for a singular pronoun, “its” not “their.”
This kind of language abuse recently prompted Penn State’s journalism department  to incorporate a grammar, punctuation and spelling course into its program.
I can understand why news writing and reporting professors would want to save themselves from the frustration of having to explain the difference between “where” and “were” to college kids.
If not that, then the department surely wants to save itself from the embarrassment of having alumni who don’t know how to use an apostrophe.
I can think of at least one professor who should enroll in the course as well.
Hrubos, of North Cape May, is a senior at The Pennsylvania State University. She is majoring in journalism and political science.

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