[Humanist] 23.648 "their" not "they're"

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Feb 23 09:55:52 CET 2010


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 648.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    "Totosy de Zepetnek, Steven" <clcweb at purdue.edu>          (44)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.643 "their" not "they're"

  [2]   From:    Joris van Zundert <joris.van.zundert at gmail.com>           (55)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.643 "their" not "they're"

  [3]   From:    Martin Mueller <martinmueller at northwestern.edu>           (26)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.643 "their" not "they're"


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Sun, 21 Feb 2010 12:55:57 +0000
        From: "Totosy de Zepetnek, Steven" <clcweb at purdue.edu>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.643 "their" not "they're"
        In-Reply-To: <20100221125157.2A5114C8F3 at woodward.joyent.us>

oh, these not mistakes non-native english speakers make only: in my experience, one finds such even in some graduate papers in the humanities!
steven totosy de zepetnek ph.d. professor
http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/clcweblibrary/totosycv

On Feb 21, 2010, at 12:51 pm, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:

>                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 643.
>         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
> 
> 
> 
>        Date: Sat, 20 Feb 2010 09:41:44 +0100
>        From: Guido Milanese <guido.milanese at unicatt.it>
>        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.640 "their" not "they're"
>        In-Reply-To: <20100218133704.B45DE4C123 at woodward.joyent.us>
> 
> As a native speaker of another language, not of English, I notice this
> kind of "confusions" quite often, probably because being a foreigner I
> read English a bit slower than a native speaker. One among these
> frequent mistakes impresses me as being probably a real mistake: -its-
> versus -it's-, for example
> 
> <cite>
> it's most important feature is...
> </cite>
> 
> This is quite common also in the documentation of computer programmes.
> It may be worth a little research, if not already done.
> 
> Best regards,
> GM
> -- 
> Guido Milanese - Professor of Latin
> The Catholic University, Milan and Brescia, Italy
> http://docenti.unicatt.it/ita/guido_fabrizio_milanese
> http://www.arsantiqua.org


--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Sun, 21 Feb 2010 16:24:51 +0100
        From: Joris van Zundert <joris.van.zundert at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.643 "their" not "they're"
        In-Reply-To: <20100221125157.2A5114C8F3 at woodward.joyent.us>


Well, if we're hunting for these kinds of things now...

It seems using 'en' instead of 'and' seems to be a distinctive Dutch treat -
or so I'm told by my English speaking colleagues.

Best
-- Joris


-- 
Mr. Joris J. van Zundert (MA)
Alfalab / Huygens Institute IT R&D Team
Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

Contact information at http://www.huygensinstituut.knaw.nl/vanzundert



--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Sun, 21 Feb 2010 10:43:09 -0600
        From: Martin Mueller <martinmueller at northwestern.edu>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.643 "their" not "they're"
        In-Reply-To: <20100221125157.2A5114C8F3 at woodward.joyent.us>


When does a mistake become 'real'? The confusion of {its} and {it's} is quite old, and it has some reason on its side. The possessive case in English is a common Germanic genitive suffix and until well into the 1600's there is no orthographical difference between {kings} as a genitive and {kings} as a plural. The genitive form of {it} is rare in that world, {his} being the much common form.  But {it's} as analogous to {king's} has much to say for it.

In modern English, of course, the confusion of {its} and {it's} counts as a howler and has shibbolethic qualities to it. Or used to. I can think of two reasons for its spread. First, there is finger memory, an important orthographic factor in a world of keyboards. And second, it may inherit the informality that leads to preferring {don't}, {I'll}, and {it's} in situations where it was previously frowned on. 

But it's not a real mistake. It just counts as one, but may not do so much longer. 




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