Little Red Writing Co
 
Being a procurement officer can be something like being a tourist in Bali.
Having just spent a week in the tourism capital of southeast Asia, I'm almost relieved to be back in Melbourne, where the weather is cool and the sales attendants are practically frigid.  The last thing I need is any more over-friendly retail vendors.

I may have preferred hiding out at the hotel pool with a margarita, but when I did venture out to the Balinese markets, I learned some valuable lessons - with interesting applications to the proposals world.


 
 
The results are in, and once again my anecdotal evidence seems spurious at best.  Despite my observation that it's and  its are consistently misspelled, my recent survey respondents have informed me that their secondary schools taught them the difference between the two words.  For added clarity:  its is a pronoun that indicates possession, and it's is a contraction of it and is.  So when a real estate agent is writing his blurb, he should write that "You'll love the view from this property.  It's its best feature."

I do breathe a sigh of relief that we can't blame the teachers, but sadly, the misspellings in marketing copy march on.  Looks like I will have to continue colouring all of the documents in my world with little red writing. RW
 
 
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Despite a recent drop in housing prices, real estate agents in Melbourne are still doing the dance of capitalist superiority.  Rental and sale markets alike are strong, despite the economic climate, and the agents are earning their cut by writing online descriptions of properties for connosiours [sic]*.  Oh, yes, "connosiours".  Misspellings like this abound in real estate web copy.  My question:   Why weren't the agents taught to spell?

 
 
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It’s sad that I get genuinely excited when the Oxford English Dictionary publishes a new edition.  What’s even sadder is that, despite my upcoming 'warm-me-up' visit to Bali, I have recently become genuinely frustrated by the epidemic of misused commas in modern prose.

My husband claims that he punctuates his writing by gathering a handful of punctuation and throwing it at the page.  Whatever sticks is deemed to be correct.  Unfortunately, due to lack of linguistic education, most of us seem to favour this scattergun approach, chucking in some mark or other wherever we would draw breath while speaking.

 
 
Last week, we looked at linguistic life support:  the difference between lay and lie.  I promised to reveal the difference this week.  So, drum roll please:  

Lie is what we call an "intransitive" verb - you never lie someone or something.  You just lie down.  Lay, then, is the "transitive" verb - you always lay something down.  You can lay carpet, you can lay pavers, you can even get laid.  But you can't lay down.  

It gets a bit tricky, of course, because the past tense of lie is lay, so it is possible to say, "Suzie lay down on the bed".  In a recent survey, however, my readers responded overwhelmingly that they do differentiate between the two.  So we won't pull the life support machine on that one any time soon. RW
 
 
Simple usage mistakes like mixing up
I admit it:  I'm a stickler.  When I'm bored, I troll real estate ads and magazines online, bemoaning the typos and usage mistakes.  Even published books are not spared from my wrath - give me a 500-page book and I will give you a list of the errors and misspellings.

We sticklers have a fancy name:  prescriptivists.  Linguistic nerds have slapped this label on us to show that even they, the eggheads of the grammar world, look down on the old-fashioned grammarian.  We are the old guard of the grammar world.