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Fun with the English Language

sweetier I enjoy wordplay with our glorious language, especially puns, malapropisms and spoonerisms; and am also dedicated to the cause of good English—not that I am an expert, I freely admit. Imagine my delight when I heard of the Newsgroup (known as apihna for short) to which I immediately subscribed.

The primary purpose of this forum is to provide an outlet for those frustrated with the misuse of the apostrophe in the word its to make it it's. The former version is the possessive form, as in "on its own", and the latter version is a contraction of it is, as in "it's a warm day". We take delight in posting examples of misuse, or sometimes providing links to websites and other electronic locations of the same kind of error.

sweeter - corrected We all "meet" in a virtual pub called the Apihna Arms, whose special drinks are the Apihna Colada and the Te-quay-la, both created by our Landlord Ken. The Arms has a comfy chair by the fireplace, and I am usually to be found therein (the chair, not the fireplace).

Just added here is a currently incomplete copy of The Apihna World Dictionary

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Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ)

It's all explained in the FAQQUS MAXIMUS, painstakingly compiled by John Flynn, which is the full explanation of all the lore that currently infuses the group.

Here is a more basic FAQ, as originally posted by John Goodwin.

The FAQQUS, plus the full resources of Apinha (including the World Dictionary, Book of the Month Club, Encyclopedia of Geography and even its own anthem) can be found at Mark Wallace's excellent site.

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Moby - from John Flynn John Flynn has sent me the picture below, which he got from the card insert in a CD by some contemporary musicians who call themselves Moby. Not a very inspiring name: I'd probably have been more adventurous and gone for something like Moby S Loupe and the Twisters. But that's just me...
Meanwhile, back at the image: click on the small picture for a full-size view, then look closely at the text on the left. There's a perfectly legit it's in the first column, but the one in the second column is: well, it's just not right, is it?

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Alfred Armstrong has written an Ode to a Comfy Chair (to the tune of On The Street Where You Live):

I have often thought that it isn't fair
That I never get to sit in yonder comfy chair
But it's never free—must I blame Laury?
As I gripe from the seat with the lumps.

That old comfy chair, stuffed with horse's hair
How I long to bless it with my weary derrière
But it's always took, when I chance to look
From the uncomfy seat with the lumps.

That oh! oh! overpowering feeling
What a pain—somewhere in my rear.
That oh! oh! overtowering feeling
That any second I may have to buy more beer.

People at the bar, they get in my way,
And my cash falls on the floor when it is time to pay.
Still I wouldn't care, had I the comfy chair
But I'm stuck with the seat with the lumps,
Oh, I'm stuck with the seat with the lumps.

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I too have written a poem, called simply The Comfy Chair.

Among the regular features of the Group is the Word of the Week, once upon a time maintained on the Web but currently absent, which provides alternative (and humorous) definitions for various English words, based on what their sound/spelling suggests to the author. These generally find their way into the Apihna World Dictionary. Have a look and see what you think...

We have also run a thread on unconventionally-derived opposites. These are not on anyone else's website as far as I know, so I have put them up right here.

We have also been running a thread on commonly-misused phrases. Have a look here and you'll quickly get the feel of this better than I could describe it. Anyway, it's more fun that way.

A slightly more recent thread looks at names/words hidden in song lyrics. Here are those we've found to date.

We also look out for other errors of English, especially when they are at least faintly amusing, as in the product labels above which I found lying around loose at my former place of work: note the wording of the upper label, and the corrected version that turned up several months later. Well, at least Asda do correct mistakes eventually.

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Now here's some sound advice...I think:


  • 1. Never use a proposition to end a sentence with.
  • 2. And never begin a sentence with a conjunction.
  • 3. Be careful to never split infinitives.
  • 4. If you must use TLAs, define them the first time they are used.
  • 5. Singular subjects have singular verbs.
  • 6. Avoid repetition, tautology, duplication and reiteration.
  • 7. Remember to run the spel checker.
  • 8. Try to keep your sentences short, because if they get too long your reader will have difficulty remebering what it was you were on about and then, of course, they may start to get confused and think about something else like last night's football - I don't think Lineker should have been substituted - and anyway I like short sentences.
  • 9. Correct, punctuation is, very important.
  • 10. Last but not least, the use of clichés should be avoided like the plague.


"It's strange, isn't it. You stand in the middle of a library and go 'Aaaaaaagghhhh!' and everyone just stares at you. But you do the same thing on an aeroplane, and everyone joins in.

"He said 'I'm going to chop off the bottom of one of your trouser legs and put it in a library.' I thought 'That's a turn-up for the books."
"And the back of his anorak was leaping up and down, and people were chucking money to him. I said 'Do you earn a living doing that?' He said 'Yes, this is my livelihood.'

"So I was getting into my car, and this bloke says to me "Can you give me a lift?" I said "Sure, you look great, the world's your oyster, go for it.'"

"You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen, it said 'Parking Fine.' So that was nice."

So I went to the dentist. He said "Say Aaah." I said "Why?" He said "My dog's died.'"

"Now, most dentist's chairs go up and down, don't they? The one I was in went back and forwards. I thought 'This is unusual'. And the dentist said to me 'Mr Vine, get out of the filing cabinet.'"

"So I got home, and the phone was ringing. I picked it up, and said 'Who's speaking please?' And a voice said 'You are.'"

"So I rang up my local swimming baths. I said 'Is that the local swimming baths?' He said 'It depends where you're calling from.'"

"So I rang up a local building firm, I said 'I want a skip outside my house.' He said 'I'm not stopping you.'

"Apparently, 1 in 5 people in the world are Chinese. And there are 5 people in my family, so it must be one of them. It's either my mum or my dad. Or my older brother Colin. Or my younger brother Ho-Cha-Chu. But I think it's Colin."

"So I was in my car, and I was driving along, and my boss rang up, and he said 'You've been promoted.' And I swerved. And then he rang up a second time and said "You've been promoted again.' And I swerved again. He rang up a third time and said 'You're managing director.' And I went into a tree. And a policeman came up and said 'What happened to you?' And I said 'I careered off the road.'

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