Tuesday, December 20, 2005

An "Apostrodemic"

Back from the beach, but not really back at the desk. My "Taterquoise" orders are piling up (that's the jewelry that looks like turquoise but is made from dried potato) and since I'm not on deadline this week, I can untie the tether that usually keeps me leashed to the laptop.

But check out this column by La Huffington on the increasing misuse of the lowly apostrophe. All I can think is: She just noticed? This has been happening for decade's. I mean, decades.

The single most difficult thing to teach college-age writers is how and when to use the little hovering comma. They don't get it. They've never been taught the difference between "its" and "it's" and by the time I get them, it's almost too late. Its usage is a mystery to them.

This sign on a cafe in Port Aransas: "Open 7 Day's."



Blogger -E said...

I hate that as well. People get upset when you try to correct their use of "its" and "it's" to the point I almost want to quit!

12:16 AM  
Blogger beche-la-mer said...

I have a friend who rings me regularly from her office to check on grammar. She usually knows the answer but just wants to have someone confirm her opinion.

On a lighter note, during my recent trip to Shanghai I photographed a sign in a subway stairwell that said, "Be, careful of slip". The photo here.

1:40 AM  
Blogger Ian said...

Ready to join the apostrodermic cruzade, I believe that nonetheless there are instances in which 'grammatical mistakes' are purposedly used to call attention.

As in an Engrish sign for a Chinese restaurant in Buenos Aires: Delive-lee

They took the sign out, unfortunately; no pic provided. It did call an eye, and it was a funny, funny thing to see.

Merry Wednesday,


9:09 AM  
Anonymous Julie said...

Argh, the misuse of grammar and punctuation drives me NUTS. My best friend recently got married and her aunt had a big, beautiful wooden sign custom-made for them that says, "The Black's - Est. 2005," and I cringe when I look at it. I usually keep my mouth shut around my husband and friends when I notice errors, so it makes me feel better about my anal retentiveness to read these blog entries. Thanks :)

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What scares me more than a little is the time when the mis-use will become so common that it becomes correct.

2:40 PM  
Blogger Ian said...

It's called legitimization, anonymous above, and it can come in the shape of style prescriptions.

I like The Economist's for BR English and Chicago's for American English.



3:38 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Received (imprinted) on an otherwise adorable photo Christmas card:

Merry Christmas from the Jenkins'
Jim, Mary, and Susan

I'm with you, Julie. It seems so petty of me to grind my teeth at such things. Yet, I do.

7:39 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

And by the way, the above card was created by two graduates of a prestigious private university.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Ms. Ordinary said...

I know what you mean. Its' really annoying that basic grammar is no longer taught. So, what are these kid's being taught anyway? : )

P.S. Does this have anything to do with that genius program called No Child Left Behind?

9:24 AM  
Anonymous smirktastic said...

And those of us who know better and point out improper usage (and insist on correct usage) are considered old-fashioned, pretentious sticks-in-the-mud. Yes, I also fear that the misuse will eventually become standard accepted usage, much in the same way that "irregardless" is now in the dictionary. (Shudder)

12:33 PM  
Blogger Ian said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Ian said...

And why is 'unphantomable' not in Webster's, if I may?

1:21 PM  
Blogger graycie said...

ms. ordinary -- Our official state standard for all grades of writing has as a final bullet point which reads: TSW "edit final copies for correct use of language, speling, punctuation, and capitalization."

That is the entire guideline of what mechanics are to be taught when. No one grade is responsible for any specific knowledge of mechanical conventions in writing. This results in a haphazard mish-mash of acquired skills in students.

We teach them what we individually perceive as needed, but since there is no organized structure, too much is lost.

10:40 AM  
Anonymous lucille said...

Ye gods. I remember having "it's = it is" written on my papers in red ink in THIRD GRADE. Okay? That's the level of spelling/grammar my teachers expected in third grade. In the mid-1970s; I'm not *that* old. Every now and then I heave a gigantic sigh and look at my students, educated in the horrendous California public schools after Prop 13, and say: it is not your fault, but your grammar education is primary-school level, and it makes you look stupid when you are not, and I don't want that for you, and please, please, please take English 106 or at least use the online grammar tutorial on my course web page. Unfortunately I can't turn every upper-level English literature lecture class into intro. grammar, so I just have to tell them this and hope one or two pay attention to the genuine pleading in my voice.

By the way, the taterquoise rocks. Love my bracelet.

11:26 PM  
Blogger theprofessor said...

Thanks, Lucille! Glad you like it.

8:04 AM  
Blogger theprofessor said...

By the way, my mom got a Christmas card from an friend of her. The person had designed it herself, including these words printed on the cover image of a drawing of the baby Jesus: "Away in a Manager."

8:06 AM  
Anonymous highschoolkid07 said...

Gee, I had no idea it was so misused! My problem has been with names that end in S.

It's "Chris'" right? And you use context to see if its just one Christ or more. :S

What about y'all and c'mon. Have I been doing those correctly? :3

10:19 PM  
Blogger hIpPy said...


3:52 PM  
Anonymous alicia said...

ugh, there's one at the pool i work at:

"attention boy's: boy's age 6 and over not allowed in women's locker room."

it drives me batty.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous emily said...

I just finished a semester student teaching seniors at a Texas high school. A sign along the driveway of the school reads: "Go lets' go Ranger's!"


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