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This blog is about the fascinating, fun, and challenging things about the English language. I hope to entertain you and to help you with problems or just questions you might have with spelling and usage. I go beyond just stating what is right and what is wrong, and provide some history or some tips to help you remember. Is something puzzling you? Feel free to email me at wordlady.barber@gmail.com.
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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What century are they living in?

I was reading an online ballet magazine today which had a post, written this week, in which I was astounded to see that the writer wrote about "taking a 'bus" and "talking on the 'phone". Considering that the word "phone" has been used to mean "telephone" since 1880, a mere 4 years after Alexander Graham Bell first wrote about his invention, I think we can happily say that we don't need the apostrophe anymore.
"'Bus" is an even more glaring example of pretentious punctuation. We have evidence of "bus" as a short form for "omnibus" back to 1832, only three years after the first evidence of "omnibus" itself, which is so dead in the English language that surely no one needs to think that they have to memorialize that missing "omni" with an apostrophe. People, buy yourselves a dictionary published in the last decade!

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About Me

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Canada's Word Lady, Katherine Barber is an expert on the English language and a frequent guest on radio and television. She was Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Her witty and informative talks on the stories behind our words are very popular. Contact her at wordlady.barber@gmail.com to book her for speaking engagements; she can tailor her talks to almost any subject. She is also available as an expert witness for lawsuits.