Wednesday, September 3, 2008
My students take a diagnostic test during Orientation that helps us identify their weaknesses in grammar and punctuation. Today I used the e-mail option of a popular course utility (which shall remain nameless) to send them my comments on the class's overall performance. Imagine my surprise when the e-mail authoring software turned apostrophes and quotation marks in my original sentences into this gibberish:
Finally, if you were one of the students who confused â?oitsâ? and â?oitâ?Ts,â? I urge you to make a special effort this year to tackle that problem. When you wish to refer to something that â?obelongs to it,â? use â?oits.â? It may help for you to resolve to never use the word â?oitâ?Tsâ? (the contraction for â?oit isâ?) in your legal writing. Formal legal writing does not use contractions, so guess what? If you cannot substitute â?oit isâ? for the â?oitâ?Tsâ? you wrote in your memo, you used the wrong word.
So even though one shouldn't write â?oitâ?Tsâ?, it is perfectly okay to mutter it under your breath!
(Did you guess that my advice dealt with "it's" and "its"?)