Issue For August 17, 2007
Writing Question of the Week
This is usually a question submitted by an OWL user to the OWL Tutors. If you have a question you need answered quickly, ask one of our OWL Tutors or call the Writing Lab's Grammar Hotline at 765-494-3723. And remember, both services are free for everyone!
I work for an e-commerce website and we are in the process of building an education center to increase user awareness and ultimately increase our profits. We want to use existing graphs and tables but are unsure of how to properly cite the material to avoid plagiarism. Do normal citation rules apply in a situation where increased revenue is our end-all means? Or do we need to gain permission from the article/book's author from which we want to use the chosen table/graph?
Citing the information is important, but you risk violating a copyright if you use images for financial gain. You will almost certainly need to get permission from the publisher of the material to use it for these purposes. The publisher is the one who holds the copyright, and they have procedures for processing requests to use material, so contact the publishers first.
The OWL Help Nest
Each week we publish Purdue OWL News readers' requests for advice or information and the responses from other Purdue OWL News readers.
Can someone describe to me why colleges require composition courses? I have to take an "Introduction to Writing" in the fall when I start college. --Willam, Indiana
My students often ask similar questions--why do we have to take English during all four years of high school? If I'm not going to make a living as an author, why do I have to write essays and learn the writing process!!!
Do not forget that writing is a major form of communication; a vital responsibility that we must perform in all careers and at all levels. Especially in our rapid world of e-technology, writing that is correct and also significant and interesting, serves us well. Many believe with today's informal instant messaging and the widespread use of slang, our language is dying and many people are not keeping to standard English. Yet at the same time, quality writing is an absolute necessity in the workplace if we are to be heard and understood. Communicating with others is only half of it. There are many internal benefits of writing as well.
When we write, we go through a significant learning process. Think about it. We all have thoughts and opinions going on in our minds. But writing requires us to organize, validate, and formalize our thoughts on paper. Anchoring our opinions to supporting details causes growth and maturity; critical steps in the learning process. Writing a paper provides the opportunity for you to explore a topic with your own thoughts and feelings; after brainstorming, drafting, editing and revising, you may be surprised to see what kind of conclusion comes out of all of it.
If you get down about writing - just remember, there are many forms of writing - to express, to inform, to persuade. So, there will be both creative and academic endeavors to keep you motivated in writing.
Keep on writing!
Expository writing is the workhorse of our language! The difference between high school and college writing classes should be significant, at least it is in my writing classes. It is communication and rhetoric in its most profound state. The more you know, the better your communication skills become. Never think that Exposition and rhetoric is not an art form; to me it exemplifies intelligence, observational skills and it is the true poetry.
--Rick Height, Marist College / Pughkeepsie, NY.
I came across the following two expressions, for which I wasn't able to find an answer.
"I was out of tune with my boss' tote-the-barge work ethic."
2) Chad and butterfly distance
President Bush came within Chad and butterfly distance of winning the presidency.
It would be great if you could help me out with these expressions.
--Pramod John, Bangalore
I believe that the origin of "tote-the-barge" is from the song lyric "Old Man River" the portion of the lyric containing the phrase is "You an' me, we sweat an' strain, Body all achin' an' racked wid pain - Tote that barge, lift that bale Get a little drunk and You lands in jail..." Literally the phrase means "carry the barge" and relates to the days when barges were towed by hand by a group of men or animals walking along a river bank. Of course it denotes hard labor and heavy pulling.
--Carl Venzke, Delaware, Ohio
Which is the correct form of the verb: This little school of fish say thank you. OR This little school of fish says thank you. Why is this so? --Debi Henry, International School
The correct for, is "says" since it is singular and there is only one school of fish doing the thanking.
--Rita Turner, Pikes Peak Community College
"This little school of fish says thank you" is the correct answer. "School" (= it) is the third person singular subject of this sentence, therefore, the verb needs a third person -s.
--Angelika Weichhart, Austria
The correct form of the verb should be "says." This is because the "school of fish" is actually a collective noun and so it requires the verb form "says." The fish are not referred to as individual objects; they are considered one school so they require the singular verb form.
The correct form of the verb is "says" because the verb must agree with the singular noun "school" which is the subject of the sentence.
The tendency is to have the verb agree with the noun closest to it. In this case it would be "fish"; however, fish is not the subject of the sentence. "School" is the subject of the sentence; therefore, "says" is the correct verb.
When words end with a "S" such as my last name [Briggs], what is the correct way to make it plural and to make it possessive? --Debbie Briggs, Seminole County Public Schools
Traditionally, the noun plural form generally requires adding a final -s (except for irregular forms) as the possessive form requires adding ‘s (actually a truncation of old English). However, in America's quest to simplify English, this is currently undergoing its own phase of language evolution. If the noun is a proper noun ending in -s, as is your name, Briggs, then you simply add -es to make it plural. The Briggses are all coming to the barbecue. To show possession, although it would not be incorrect to add ‘s, you need only add the final apostrophe. Ms. Briggs’ car is in excellent condition.
The possessive rules are:
- singular nouns not ending in -s – add ‘s
- singular nouns ending in -s – add ‘s or just the apostrophe
- plural nouns ending in -s – add only the apostrophe
- plural nouns not ending in -s – add ‘s
- *If adding the final -s makes the work awkward or impossible to pronounce, add only the apostrophe.
--Karen Taghi Zoghi, Miami Dade College
Next Week's Questions
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This Week's Feature Story:
A digital literacy competition is being held at Purdue University on August 29th. As digital literacy impacts writing and rhetoric in the 21st century, we thought that more information on this event would be of interest to our readers. We've interviewed Daniel Scott Poynter, a Purdue senior who is the guiding force behind the Digital Literacy Competition, to learn more.
Purdue OWL: Can you tell us the details of the contest?
This is a high speed battle of minds to find information online. It's like an open book Academic Decathlon, but with access to the entire Internet. The competition consists of 30 minutes to find the answers to 100 questions. Free pizza and refreshments are being served, thanks to Purdue Libraries. The competition takes place on Wednesday, Aug 29, 2007 at 6pm in Stanley Coulter 231 [Purdue University West Lafayette Campus]. Faculty, students and community members are welcome. The competition is open to the first 70 individuals who register at: www.digitalliteracycontest.org/register.html.
Purdue OWL: Where did you get the idea for the competition?
The contest has roots in my reading of Alvin Toffler's 1970 book Future Shock, Ray Kurzweil's work on the future of technology, Thomas Friedman's book The World is Flat as well as seeing the international business scene this summer in San Francisco. Change seems to be accelerating. This is the first time distance means basically nothing with regard to communication. This contest can be seen as one way to ease ourselves into a radically exciting and frightening future.
Purdue OWL: Why is digital literacy important?
As the 66.8 billion dollar television advertising industry collapses (thanks TiVo) and marketers look for more creative ways of capturing our attention through more insidious means (product placement) we will see more information providers stealthily mixing fact with opinion (to pitch products and politicians). The bigger issue is trust: is it wrong to trust Wikipedia over Britannica if Wikipedia is correct about most issues most of the time? What long-term effects will there be of being immersed in cyberspace and information providers like Wikipedia?
Purdue OWL: How do you see the digital literacy contest growing?
This first contest is a "proof of concept." We'd like to start a conversation about the future of knowledge with experts, academics, libraries, etc. If the contest is a success, it would be great to replicate it elsewhere. The open source model will be used to spread our findings and the rules of thumb which we've found to work. It would be fantastic for a community to emerge online to help evolve the contest.
Purdue OWL: Can you tell us more about your future plans?
a senior at Purdue studying Philosophy. I may move to NYC and do consultancy work for higher education with regard to technology. I may also go to law school or graduate school. I'd like to pursue studies about technology and its wider implications in society, religion, identity, relationships, commerce, privacy, international relations and the future of human evolution.
What's Happening on the OWL at Purdue
- OWL Eye On...Usability Changes. The OWL staff have been hard at work to revise the OWL based on usability reserach and user-centered design. These change include the fortcoming user-centered splash page and user-centered navigation pages. These resources were developed in participatory collaboration with OWL users and will be unveiled in mid September.
What's Happening in the Writing Lab
- OWL Eye On...Fall Writing Lab Hours: Our writing lab hours for the fall are as follows: Monday through Thursday 9-6; Friday 9-1. We have locations in the Hicks Undergraduate LIbrary DLC on Mondays from 7pm - 10pm and in Meredith Hall on Wednesdays from 7pm - 10pm.
- OWL Eye On...Conversation Groups for the Fall: We will be having conversation groups during the following times: Monday 10-11; Tuesday 11:30 - 12:30; Wednesday 2-3; Thursday 12-1; and Friday 12-1.
- OWL Eye On...Lab Tours for Purdue Classes: Instructors are welcome to schedule a Writing Lab tour to introduce their students to the Writing Lab. Tours will be scheduled up until the 31st of August, 2007.
This week's OWL News was edited by Dana Lynn Driscoll, OWL Webmaster.