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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What's the difference between a lawyer and a solicitor?

Yesterday I was performing some SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) tasks for a client for the phrase conveyancing Melbourne. Part of researching for SEO is to look for suitable words and the words lawyer and solicitor came up. I thought to myself, what's the difference? Whenever I find a word I don't know the meaning of I become curious and like to learn about the word.

I did some searching on the internet but interestingly the Macquarie dictionary provides quite good definitions.

Lawyer: noun 1. someone who is professionally qualified to practise law in any capacity (whether a judge, barrister, solicitor, or a teacher of law).

Solicitor: noun 2. a member of that branch of the legal profession whose services consist of advising clients, representing them before the lower courts and preparing cases for barristers to try in the higher courts.

Another word mystery now cleared up for me.

What do you do when you find a word you don't understand? Simply skip the word and move on, or take the opportunity to extend your knowledge?

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian spelling dictionary add-ins for Windows and Macs.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A video called 38 Common Spelling and Grammar Errors I thought was worth sharing.

I watched this video and felt it contains a lot of useful information. Unfortunately it races through the information so you don't have sufficient time to absorb the tips being shared. I thought I'd share the video and then also write up the tips being shared. I also thought I'd skip the jargon being used as best I could, as many of us who haven't studied the English language at depth really don't get the jargon. Just more meaningless words to confuse us even further.

So here goes. Here's the video.

1. Lay versus Lie.

Yep. This one gives me grief all the time.

You lay down your copy of your book, but if it happened in the past you laid down your book.

I think I'll lie down and have a sleep, but if it happened in the past, I laid down and had a sleep and feel much better now.

The word lay needs an object such as the book or in the last example "Clark Kent lay down...", whereas lie appears to be more about taking an action. Yep. That's confusing so I'll still need to keep working on that one.

2. Literally.

People often say things like "I literally died when I...", but literally means it actually happened. Since they aren't dead then it didn't literally happen.

3. If your sentence has two independent thoughts you have a run on sentence. You can use a semi colon, but it is better to use a full stop and make two separate sentences.

4. Who versus that.

Who is for people and that is for non people.

5. For sell should be for sale.

6. Who versus Whom

The trick to use here is if your answer contains he or she, then it is who, and if it contains him or her use whom.

Example. Who is your favourite Spice girl? Whom do you like among the Spice girls?

OK. I don't know about you, but that one didn't help me at all. I need to do some more reading.

7. If you're using a singular noun use a singular pronoun. If you're using a plural noun use a plural pronoun.

E.g. Everyone in our office has their friends. Everyone in our office has his/her favourite episode of Duck Dynasty.

8. Catch IN the Rye. Sex AND the City.

These are a title of a book and the title of a TV series. You use the title as it was originally written.

9 Nip it in the bud. You don't nip anything in the butt.

10. I couldn't care less. You don't say "I could care less" because that means you at least care a little.

11. A lot is two words. Not alot.

12. Lose versus Loose. To lose something has one o. Loose which means not tight has two.

13. Fewer versus Less.

If you can count the objects then use fewer. If it is an uncountable quality use less.

E.g. There are fewer people in the restaurant today. I love this restaurant less than my favourite restaurant. Love is not something you can count.

14. Could of, would of, should of, should be could've, would've should've, which are contractions of the word and have.

15. For all intensive purposes should be for all intents and purposes.

16. Subjects: I, you, he, she, it we they. Objects: me, you, him, her, it us, them.

I ate ice cream where I is the subject. Henry the VIII married and decapitated me etc., where me is the object.

This doesn't totally help as there's overlap in the two lists, but you can see that if you were to use some objects as subjects and some subjects as objects in the sentences it doesn't sound right. For example it doesn't sound right to say "me ate ice cream".

17. Tip for using me or I. Remove the other noun and make sure using each alone makes sense in the sentence.

18. Anxious versus Eager.

Anxious means nervous and eager means excited.

19. Good versus Well.

Good is an adjective or noun and well is an adverb.

I'm doing well not I'm doing good.

20. If versus Whether.

If implies a condition whereas whether implies there's a choice.

21. Bring versus Take.

If it is coming towards the speaker use bring, but if it's going away from the speaker use take.

22. Historic versus Historical

Historic is something significant that happened in history, but historical is anything that happened in the past.

23. You're means you are. Your means something you possess.

24. It's is a contraction of it is, it has, whereas its is something it possesses. You may have noticed a spelling error of posesses in the video at this point.

25. There is a location, their is something they possess, and they're is a contraction of they are.

26. Who's is a contraction of who is, whereas whose indicates ownership, or of whom or which.

27. Emigrate is when you leave a country and immigrate is when you come to a country.

28. Two is the number which comes after one and too means also. To is the only one you can use as a preposition or infinitive, as in "I want to go to Disneyworld".

29. Allusion versus Illusion. Allusion comes from the word allude and illusion is a deceptive performance.

30. Bear versus bare.

A bear you see in the woods, it also means to carry or tolerate such as bear with me, and also to stay in one direction such as bear right. Bare is when you have no clothes on are are exposed. This one has me tricked in the past.

31. Elicit versus Illicit

Elicit is to draw out some information you want, whereas illicit is illegal, as in illicit drugs.

32. Led is the past tense of lead (which sounds like it should be spelt leed). Lead is the type of paint your shouldn't use.

33. Stationery versus Stationary. The trick I was taught is think of e for envelope when thinking about stationery for the office.

34. Weather versus Whether. The weather around us and whether is a choice. Whilst not mentioned, here there is a third spelling which is wether, but it is rarely used and means a castrated ram.

35. Affect versus Effect.

You can affect the outcome to produce an effect. Effect is an outcome or the result. Affect is a verb which is an action.

36. Than versus Then. Use than for comparison and then for next or later.

37. Principal versus Principle.

My headmaster told me once to think of principal as your pal. OK. I actually remembered that but didn't take too much to the idea of him being my pal.

The word principal means something of highest in importance. E.g. The principal problem being...

The word principle means a law or a rule.

Now that can be confusing because we say things like we have very strong principles and they tend to be highly important to us. We can however think of them as being the rules by which we live.

38. Accept versus Except. You have to accept this list is now complete, except that I still need to add my remaining comments.

So with much typing that's it. The 38 points raised in the video along with some notes. I hope others find this useful. For me this has been a good reminder of the subtle uses of our language. For those that studied the constructs of our language in more detail much of this will be easy. For the rest of us, it seems more like fine tuning of our language skills over time through trial and error.

Which of these words have given you trouble in the past? For me there's been a number and sometimes even though I think I know which word to use, I still have to pause and think.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Poor English is one clue the email you've received is possibly a scam.

I read this article titled, "Police urge residents to protect against cyber attacks".


I regularly advise computer users to listen to their instinct. Nearly everyone I've helped who have infected their computer say they felt something wasn't right. If you get this feeling listen to it. Nature has provided us with a great survival instinct and we should take advantage of what nature has provided.

In the article I found this paragraph relevant to readers of this blog.

Look for spelling mistakes on a business site. Pharming is a practice where cyber criminals redirect your attempt to access a site to their version of the same site. Spelling mistakes, poor grammar/english and the use of old business emblems are the giveaway. Be observant.

The problem is even the article itself contains the word "english", which should be "English". If the article you're reading has poor grammar and is written by skilled journalists, then many business sites will have poor grammar. It is a clue, but not the only clue.

The other paragraph which concerns me is the following:

Ensure your home computer/laptop/tablet/smartphone(s) has antivirus protection.

Yes. Definitely install and keep your anti-virus software up to date. However keep in mind nearly every infected computer that I've repaired (and there been hundreds over the years), have had anti-virus software installed. Anti-virus software will not catch the latest malware (there's a potential windows of 24-48 where you software doesn't know about the new malware) and do not stop many infections. Many infections are a result of the user going to a site, clicking on a link, installing free software. Even those ads you see in Google can lead you to unwanted and undesirable software.

Ultimately you're your own best defence. If it doesn't feel right STOP. Think about what you're just about to do. It may cost your hundreds. None of us are immune to being infected. I read an American police station had to pay the ransom to decrypt their data. Do make sure you have a backup of your important information off your computer.

Also to be scammed often has nothing to do with your computer. I recently had my credit card cancelled due to fraud and it had nothing to do with my computer. Another family member had their credit card cancelled due to fraud and they don't have a computer. A client was scammed simply by providing their bank customer number. I've seen the banks and telcos get tricked and they should know better. So keep in mind if the police, banks and telcos can be tricked, then if you do get tricked, don't be too hard on yourself. The crooks are very clever and do this for a living.

Kelvin Eldridge
For IT support I can be contacted on 0415 910 703.
My IT site is www.OnlineConnections.com.au or www.Computer-Repairs.Melbourne.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Is it, writing a practice piece or practise piece?

I thought I'd share a question I just saw on the Yahoo Answers service. The question was, "Is it, Writing a practice piece or practise piece?"


I have to admit the words practice and practise gave me a lot of grief. I know the obvious usage but when I saw 'practice makes perfect' it didn't feel right, even though it is. Now I'm a tad better at working out those situations where I still struggle. For me this is like a fun puzzle.

OK. Then. The answer is a practice piece. Why?

You are writing the piece to be used as part of practice and thus a practice piece. You could practise using a practice piece, but you write a practice piece. The piece is for practice which is the regular activity and thus it is a practice piece. You could say I'm going to practise my writing by writing a practice piece, but that's not saying the same thing.

Sometimes we can get confused when we shorten our sentences. It is possible the person's question being quite short may not be clear as the what they really want, but all we can do is to respond to the question as it is asked. A better question would probably be, what do you mean?

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

How would you go answering the numeracy and literacy tests new teachers are expected to undertake?

I read the article at the link below and whilst I think I'm a bit of a rebel at times, I do think teachers should reach a basic acceptable level in numeracy and literacy, if it is considered an important aspect of their profession.

It does concern me however that such tests are only going to be performed at the end of a course, which in my opinion is far too late. A lack of skills should have in most cases been evident before people were admitted into a course and certainly assessed during the course. If there is a problem in certain areas this should have been picked up and the person not allowed to proceed. This simply feels like a pointless exercise after the event. Another level of bureaucracy that could be avoided.

How do you think you would go based on the example questions in the following article?


Now here is another interesting thought. With most tests you're allowed a certain level of errors. Based on my observation of year 12 results and other test results I've observed, the average result appears to be around sixty four per cent. Would future teachers simply have to attain a pass of around fifty per cent and thus be below average?

It is important to keep in mind that none of us are perfect and we'll all make spelling, grammar and typing errors. Teachers are just people. I know from my interest in words that finer aspects of my skills have evolved considerably over the last 12 years. Would I have passed the numeracy and literacy test had I become a maths/science teacher? I have no doubt I would have, but I also know there would have been much room for improvement.

As long as teachers reach an acceptable level of numeracy and literacy skills and endeavour to continue to grow those skills over time, I think we have a good system.

The work I do with the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary is really about lifting our written work to the next level. To be better than we would be with the writing tools such as Microsoft Office, or the browsers we currently use. It never hurts to become better at what we do, but often that simply takes time and practise.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Friday, February 6, 2015

James Adonis' article 'Should we adopt American spelling', which appears in The Sydney Morning Herald contains an important piece of misinformation.

I often see people state we should move to American spelling because of the number of Americans using the language is huge compared to all other variations. However that logic is flawed. If we thought that way we should all think about learning Chinese. I'm neither for or against change, but I do believe if we're using Australian English, we should use the spelling variations used by the majority of Australians.

In the article by James (http://www.smh.com.au/small-business/managing/blogs/work-in-progress/should-we-adopt-american-spelling-20150206-3pley.html) states the following.

It is, however, a losing battle, made worse by an American institution by the name of Microsoft and, more specifically, its helpful but insidious spellchecking tool. 

Here’s why. Quite rarely do people change the language of the spellchecker to ‘English AUS’ or ‘English UK’. The consequence is that they type away oblivious of the norms in their own country. Subconsciously, they’re allowing American spelling to infiltrate their writing, turning those foreign nuances into a habit.

Like many others James blames Microsoft. Yes let's all get on the bash Microsoft bandwagon. The reality is Microsoft have done quite a good job. Probably around 10 years ago James would have been right in terms of the default language, but that issue hasn't existed for many years. If your computer is set up correctly Office will pick up that you're using Australian English and you'll use the Australian dictionary.

Here's the problem. Many people think 'ize' spelling is American and 'ise' is British. Thus we should be using British. Therein lies the basic problem. Even the English use both spelling variations and so do we. So generally both the 'ize' and 'ise' spelling variations of words are BOTH correct (except in America where they made a decision long ago). However the 'ise' variation has become the preferred spelling in Australia. Microsoft provides both spelling variations in their dictionary so it is up to the user to decided how they wish to spell. This is the same as our authoritative dictionaries which are descriptive and not prescriptive.

Personally I find this confusing and unnecessary, and thus I created the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary which enabled me to create add-ins for Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer and currently in development, a native dictionary for Apple Macs.

So I'm sorry to say James, it isn't Microsoft's fault. At least in most instances. There are errors in the dictionary as there will be in any work but this isn't one. No it isn't because computers aren't set up correctly as they've evolved. However that doesn't stop people downloading and installing software incorrectly. How many people chose the US version of open source software over the British version simply because it is more up-to-date. I suspect many.

For those who are interested in finding out the reality of what is happening with the spellcheckers, please feel free to drop into my site www.Australian-Dictionary.com.au.

I am however thankful that James did spell spellchecker as one word. If he had been using Microsoft Office, or most of the spellcheckers used by Australians,  the word will be marked as an error and the suggestion which splits spellchecker into 'spell' and 'checker'. That's an error in the software people are using.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

eBay Australia main page used High Wasted instead of High Waisted.

I found this typo on the main page of eBay after seeing the typo mentioned in the community forums.

I did wonder if perhaps it was branding. You know, the type of branding that deliberately misspells words. However when I clicked the link I found an additional spelling error and some images had text using wasted and others using waisted.

The members were having fun with the obvious recreational drug inferences.

I must admit I was quite surprised to see this typo on the main page of eBay.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.