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Giugno 2017
The Speak Up blog answers any questions you may have either about the English language or our articles. Write to us at: http://blog.speakuponline.it. The most interesting questions will be published on this page. A word of warning, though: our blog is not a translation or homework service!

Dialogues
Ascoltando il dialogo ‘Shopping’ (Speak Up di aprile, pagina 56) non capisco perché il maglione di cui si parla (a proposito, ma non si chiamava ‘jumper’?) costa prima 50$ e poi 53$ ‘after tax’. Di quale tassa si parla? Grazie
Mirna

There are many ways of saying maglione in English; sweater, jersey, jumper and pullover. The tax is a sales tax, which is often extra in the USA and varies from state to state.

Punctuation Issues
Could you please explain why some words in English are united with the dash symbol (-), for instance up-to-date, non-oil etc. etc... I often see the same words without a dash in between, other times with it. Is there a specific rule in place on how and when it is better to adopt the dash during writing ?
Thanks a lot.
Angelo

 
Punctuation, like spelling, is one of the great problems of English. There are plenty of rules and regulations, but they change over the course of time. Not only that, punctuation varies from country to country (American punctuation is different from Canadian and British punctuation, for example), but there are also differences within the same country: one newspaper will use one particular punctuation system, another newspaper will use another.
Our advice is not to worry. A spelling mistake will look bad in a business letter or a CV, but a punctuation mistake won’t. And, seeing as you’re interested in the subject, we recommend David Crystal’s excellent book Making a Point: The Pernickety Story of English Punctuation. You could also read (and listen to) his interview on the subject in the April 2016 issue. In it he points out that “Punctuation is purely a matter of convention.” He also claims that if you hand out a piece of unpunctuated text to a group of people and ask them to punctuate it, then no two versions will be the same.


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