Re: Do's or Dos

Subject: Re: Do's or Dos
From: Earl Morton <WorkgWords -at- AOL -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 30 Dec 1996 01:21:52 -0500

>>The bottom line is that English does not provide a "correct" way. Whatever
is
>>done must be a compromise chosen by what would hopefully cause the least
>>confusion. It's up to the discretion of the writer and editor. (I'd vote
for
>>"do's.")

>So far as I'm concerned, "correct" simply means a systems of conventions
that
>are useful because they promote clarity. For example, I'm not disturbed
about
>the change in the subjunctive from "were" to "was" because it's consistent
and
>unconfusing.

Basically true, but in our industry "correct" also has to do with
professional presentation by obeying those accepted conventions (which is why
we pick nits like this). When we break the rules, we (and our employers and
clients) look unprofessional. That's one of the compromises we deal with
every day: balancing accepted practice and clarity.

>I don't accept "do's" because using the apostrophe for two purposes
>causes confusion (for example, in the sentence "I can't see why you'd use
'do's'")

I do not suggest using the apostrophe in any expression other than the one in
question. This expression is widely known and used verbally, and I suspect
that THIS PARTICULAR EXPRESSION is less likely to be misunderstood when being
read if the apostrophe (or some other typographical tool, such as italics or
caps) is used to separate the root and the suffix.

Earl Morton
WorkgWords -at- aol -dot- com


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