Monday, 26 September 2011

Am I being completely unreasonable

to use my own version of the Royal Mail's certificate of posting until they have sorted out their punctuation? Reading this:


This form must be validated by Post Office Limited, please ensure that it is stamped at the time of posting, without this it will not be valid.

makes me just .... rage. Boil. Ferment. My inner pedant has risen up and she is not happy.

What is even more depressing is that this form is copyright 2010, so it's been around in this happy state for a while now.

12 comments:

Susanna Forrest said...

Once when I was in London I saw a billboard with a photo of a man and a woman. It read:

"Is our work valued the same?"

Andrew said...

You are not alone. I worked for a large business where I was often given important letters to preview 'in case any point has been left out'. It was embarrassing to return them with punctuation, spelling and grammar corrections to senior people. My view is that those who have never understood or thought about the rules have never thought very deeply about any subject.

Val said...

I rather think it's a case of 'Not knowing better' !
As I often don't.... if you went to school during a period of time when such things were not taught or talked of..then you must stumble through life afterwards blissfully ignorant or rather embarrassingly aware of such deficiencies. I must admit reading good books helps, but the thought of a focused study to correct such deficiencies is not easy and (in reality) not very appealing I'm afraid.
(But I do try and do better!)....now I'm nervous of having made a howler in this comment...

Andrew said...

It's very easy to make a mistake in a blog or in a comment or in an email and I don't worry about those, but an organisation like the Post Office should be more careful on forms produced in thousands of copies.
My current favourites are 'We was' (particularly when written) and 'I would of thought'.

Jane Badger said...

Val, you have a very good point. However much you might want to get it right, if grammar and punctuation were not part of your education then just where do you start? I know teachers who consistently get things wrong, so what chance do children have? Teachers' lack of knowledge, allied to the point of view which says what children write is more important than how they write it, is a toxic mix. My own daughter, who knows perfectly well how to use the apostrophe (I know, because I taught her) doesn't, "because no one else does." I despair. It is very difficult to convince your offspring that these things really do matter when schools are so very often inept and misguided.

Andrew, I also hate "I would of", which I noticed appearing in the video of Nicola Roberts' Sticks and Stones.

Anonymous said...

sorry, i don't understand what is wrong, could you please explain? Thanks.

Jane Badger said...

It's the punctuation that's wrong. The sentence should read:

This form must be validated by Post Office Limited. Please ensure that it is stamped at the time of posting: without this it will not be valid.

rather than:
This form must be validated by Post Office Limited, please ensure that it is stamped at the time of posting, without this it will not be valid.

The author hasn't understood how to use the comma. They do know that a full stop should be used at the end of a sentence, and have done that properly here.

The author has understood that a comma can be used to join things together, but what he's done in the first section is join together two sentences. As you can see in the corrected example above, the first section is a complete sentence. It has a subject (This form) and a verb (validated): the minimum you need to make a sentence. If a chunk of text can stand on its own, it doesn't need a comma at the end, but a full stop.

The second section is slightly more complicated. You could separate off the last two chunks with a full stop, but the section that begins "without this" is explaining the section that begins "Please ensure..". It's a step forward. You can therefore link the two, but you need more of a "stop" than you'd get if you used a comma. To make matters confusing, I think you could also argue for a semi colon rather than the colon. If in doubt, use a dash. It isn't always considered great style, but it does get over the colon/semi argument.

If anyone would like to pile in with a better explanation, please do!

Anonymous said...

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Jane, how can you assume the author is a "he" (although it probably is)? As Mary Truss would say, is it a Panda ("Eats shoots and leaves") or an after-dinner murderer ("Eats, shoots and leaves")? The power of the comma!

Jane Badger said...

Should have stuck with "they"! Dodgy copy editing. I hang my head.

ted and bunny said...

yay for the inner pedant!
Love the title of your blog and hope to visit again soon
E

Jane Badger said...

Thank you! If I let it, this blog could easily become The Apostrophe. It's Not Optional.

I look forward to seeing you again soon. Pedantry, after all, is important.