Sir: I got an advertisement from the maker of an ice cream bar, referring to "it's uniquely delicious taste" and to "it's distinctive shape." Huh?

- J.T.Answer: And wouldn't you think advertisers would avoid such a ridiculous error? Once again, fellow citizens: "it's" means "it is" and "its" is the possessive of "it." Why in blazes is that so hard?

Sir: Since I'm spending 29 cents on this letter, please do me a favor. Our local television station always refers to a prisoner of a special sort as a "trustee." Please say something derogatory about that!

- Elizabeth W.

Answer: I will, but it won't help. If anything, people who say "trustee" for "trusty" are more numerous, and maybe even more maddening, than people who write "it's" for "its." What's this poor old world coming to?

Sir: On a radio newscast I heard an Air Force public relations chap say something like: "The accident was the result of the pilot's failure to adhere to standing operational procedures by exceeding the viable parameters set forth in the appropriate operations manual." In my day as a pilot in SAC, should I have made such a statement, Gen. LeMay would have stripped me of my rank and badges and drummed me out the main gate.

- Gene M.

Answer: Yeah, and he shoulda. Surely there's a little sanity left somewhere in the world, isn't there? Or are we left with nothing more than viable parameters?

Sir: Can you please tell me how, when and why the expression "sleep in" originated? I'm inclined to think "in what?" Am I an old fogy at 45?

- Faithful Reader

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Answer: I don't know. What do you sleep in? Aw, that's just an expression meaning "sleep late." If it bothers you, try to ignore it.

WORD CHOICE of the Week, nominated by Thomas O'B.:

"My favorite oxymoron is on a sign in front of a nightspot in my town. It reads `Topless Ladies!' "

Send questions, comments, and good and bad examples to Lydel Sims, Watch Your Language, 366 S. Highland, Apt. 410, Memphis, TN 38111. If you quote a book, please give author, title and page number. Sorry, but questions can be answered only through this column. Lydel Sims of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis writes this column weekly.

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