Saturday, July 10, 2010

Apostrophe Anarchy - Grammatical Gremlins or Glitches?

I found these crimes against punctuation in the local papers this week and couldn't resist adding them to my growing collection of assaults on the English language and grammar. I have already ranted on this theme in previous posts here , here and here- and it looks like there's fodder a-plenty to fill many more posts in the future!

As I drive around in my work I am always drawn to signs on the road - often temporary - which are hilariously erroneous and always try to have the camera at the ready, that's if it's safe to stop and snap. Sadly I missed one recently about agricultural "machine's" entering and leaving a field, but don't you just love these ones here?

The rain is lashing down this weekend, and I thought it's time for a rant; the weather has been so good this summer we can't moan about it as we have done for the past number of years, and we are rapidly running out of conversation topics. As a national past-time you can't beat talking about the weather - a topic guaranteed to bring about national unity in a way that the Government can only dream about.

It never ceases to amaze that these kind of gremlins get past the editing departments of the newpapers, local or national, and I am not out to "get" them, as they perform a great service to their community. However, some judicious editing and proof-reading wouldn't go astray, as I think it's a bit OTT that there are so many glaring errors in one week between two papers.

My worst nightmare in writing this kind of post? Getting it wrong and having a "Greengrocer's Apostrophe" (or even a "Greengrocers' Apostrophe" to pluralise it!) moment myself - would serve me so right for being so sanctimonious about the hapless copywriters (copywriter's?!?) who get it so spectacularly wrong. My son (who oft berates my Eats Shoots and Leaves grammar fascism) pointed out the sponsor's one to me before I'd spotted it, and that set me on the trail of headlines - and I was pretty surprised to turn up the rest in one week's issues!

After all, their Sponsor's mightn't Get's it or wonder what kind of fishing competition can a club with only one angler host? I'm sure Cappoquin has plenty, as I am sure that there's only one crafty Paul alluded to in the article below!

I am sparing their blushes by not identifying the offending media but I am sure you can find plenty in your own locality - just be a little vigilant and keep smiling - there's plenty out there to brighten up a dull summer's day!
The burning question is - are they Glitches or Gremlins? You decide!


laurie said...

oh dear! we do our best! we work so fast! on deadline! but there is no excuse, i know, for those stray apostrophes.

i imagine you're a fan of "eats, shoots and leaves"? i love how the author put an apostrophe on a stick and went around the country, punctuating signs that needed it.

Stephanie V said...

It's kind of hard not to see them, isn't it? There are some typos that I have to stare at for a long time before I can actually figure out the sense of the words.
I wonder if sign writers and newspapers rely on spell check as most of us do. It's pretty easy to have mistakes slip by.

Catherine said...

Hi Laurie - I love "Eats, shoots and leaves" and Lynn Truss is hilarious with her apostrophe stick. I enjoy her writing, she is very witty. But some people hate her bossiness with grammar. there's a Facebook Group on grammar and it manages to spell grammar wrong -Grammer! Unbelievable.

Stephanie V - the typos are funny but really it's annoying that they slip through as it's just lazy proofing and relying too heavily on spellcheckers which won't pick up on misuse of words - faze is usually written as phase and of course it won't be picked up by the spellchecker but a decent grammar check would get it. I rely on spellcheck in letters but I will check the grammar if I get a green underline in MS Word.Sometimes I'll reorder the sentence if it's too fragmented but often it's someone's style so why change that? Otherwise uniqueness is lost. A compromise is always good!

All the best, Catherine.