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Educationally speaking: Ideas

By: Rob MacLellan

TRURO, N.S. —

This month marks eight years that I have been contributing my ‘Educationally Speaking’ column to the Colchester Weekly News. It’s a great journey! 

One of the most frequent questions I am asked is about where I get my ideas for the things I write. Truth be told, sometimes when I sit down at my computer, with my fingers poised over my keyboard, I have nothing! No matter how hard I strain my brain, nothing comes to mind to talk about. There are mornings when I have to resign myself to getting up and walking away; nothing is getting written today.

Thankfully, I usually find no end of things to discuss within these pages. Sometimes I get my ideas from something that I read online or in newspapers. It could be a current controversial topic, a chance encounter, or simply a personal bug-a-boo. Of course, political topics around education almost always present themselves as low-hanging fruit to be picked by an eager mind.

Recently, I had a couple of encounters that have lended themselves to today’s musings; the first of which has to do with the lowly apostrophe.

To disguise those involved, I have altered the facts of this short story.

I attend a lot of meetings, and at this one particular meeting, we were discussing an upcoming event for which flyers would be mailed out to select members of the public.  Management handed out a proof of the flyer that was going to be sent out so we all had a chance of review it and to be aware of it.  Right away, something caught my eye, so I asked if the flyer had been sent to the printer yet. Upon receiving the answer ‘no’, I suggested we needed to make a small change before it was printed.

The flyer read,“ Special Adoption Event! Lots of Dog’s, Cat’s, and Bunny’s available to be adopted!”

I expect most of you can see the problem with this. I pointed out that we needed to eliminate the apostrophes from the proof, as the apostrophes indicates possession, rather than the plural that was intended. My editing suggestion was brushed off with, “it doesn’t matter!”

Hopefully we have not come to the place where this doesn’t matter, although I see it frequently.  People will write, ‘The ‘90’s were great years!”, instead of, ‘The ‘90s were great years!” On the other hand, when indicating possession, you can say, ‘90’s music was great!

Oh, the lowly apostrophe, not always so well appreciated!

The second item to come to my attention recently involves a comment by a dear friend of mine, whom I see infrequently, who has a bit of a habit that I find a bit whimsical. She frequently shortens her nouns.  Mind you, I also see others doing the same thing, and I wonder why they do, when the original nouns are perfectly usable in their own right.  This friend will say uni instead of university, fav instead of favourite, fam instead of family, vaca instead of vacation, and most recently, when commenting on a picture of my granddaughter that I had posted on Facebook, adorbs! I had to stop and think about this for a moment, before I realized the word she was imitating was adorable.

Our language continues to evolve, a topic I wrote about a few years ago. I’m not sure shortening our nouns is the way to go. Hopefully, you’ll excuse my bit of self-indulgence in this piece! I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of you who continue to support me by reading my column.

Rob MacLellan is an advocate of non-profit organizations and of education. He can be reached at 902-305-0311 or at rob@nsnonprofitconsulting.com.

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