[Humanist] 23.635 grammar on the fly (their/they're)

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Feb 12 09:30:42 CET 2010


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 635.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    "Terry" <tmorpheme at hotmail.com>                           (25)
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 23.633 how common,how important: a correction
                ("their" not "they're")

  [2]   From:    John Laudun <jlaudun at mac.com>                             (11)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.633 how common,how important: a correction
                ("their" not "they're")


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 11 Feb 2010 18:12:38 +0900
        From: "Terry" <tmorpheme at hotmail.com>
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 23.633 how common,how important: a correction ("their" not "they're")
        In-Reply-To: <20100211084534.752584BCE8 at woodward.joyent.us>


If you were composing as you went along, and composition consists of word
chunks, it would be quite reasonable for your brain to get confused between:

Their concentration...

AND

They are concentrating...

Or something along those lines. "Their concentration from the tool to the
task" strikes me as unusually abstract language anyway, so the pull might be
in the direction of the human-as-default.

Terry

-----Original Message-----

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 633.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Thu, 11 Feb 2010 08:43:32 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: their not they're

Mea culpa. But does anyone here have an idea why this happens to someone 
who is perfectly well aware of the difference?

WM
-- 
Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
King's College London, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/;
Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.


--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 11 Feb 2010 07:37:44 -0600
        From: John Laudun <jlaudun at mac.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.633 how common,how important: a correction ("their" not "they're")
        In-Reply-To: <20100211084534.752584BCE8 at woodward.joyent.us>


When I've done it, I've always assumed it was a product of going to school during the phonetic spelling regime and of remaining, fundamentally, an "oral thinker." That is, I still hear voices when I read texts -- perhaps this is what led me to folklore studies in the first place. This is noticeably different from my wife, a trained literary scholar, who is not only a faster reader and writer because of it, but also a better speller. For her, words are graphemes when written. For me, they never entirely escape their sounds and so if I am working quickly, with any luck in a blaze of insight, these kinds of "mistakes" creep in. 

That is entirely an internal observation and the most casual analysis. I suspect our linguist colleagues will have something far more rich to observe.

john

--
John Laudun
Department of English
University of Louisiana – Lafayette
Lafayette, LA 70504-4691
337-482-5493
laudun at louisiana.edu
http://johnlaudun.org/





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