Too many apostrophe’s?

Today I received a formal document from a certain public body that had four incorrect uses of an apostrophe on a single page: “it’s” (when it should have been “its”); 1990’s (should be “1990s”); and two apostrophes in nouns which were intended to be plural rather than genitive. We have all got used to walking past signs in shops offering “tomato’s” and “potato’s”, but the inability to use the apostrophe correctly is now ubiquitous. A friend of mine remarked recently that the only obvious role of the apostrophe these days (or should that be “day’s”) is to declare: “alert, S approaching!”

Maybe we should face the fact that the apostrophe is a failed entity, and that it should be put beyond use. That would be better than the constant incorrect use to which it is now subjected. Other languages manage to do without it, so maybe English should, too.

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5 Comments on “Too many apostrophe’s?”

  1. Andrew Lawlor Says:

    Ferdinand,
    Your post reminds of an interview given on RTE Radio One by Lynne Truss, the author of ‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves’. She related the story of a taxi ride she took in London. In conversation with the cabbie she mentioned that she was on her way to sign copies of her book

    ‘What’s this book about then?’ enquired the cabbie.

    ‘Punctuation,’ replied Truss.

    The cabbie consisered this for the briefest of moments before declaring, ‘Right, we’d better get you there on time. Hadn’t we?’

    Keep up the excellent work there at DCU. My daughter is currently greatly enjoying forensic science and biochemistry as part of her CTYI summer course.

    I would be interested to know your prefered method of execution for those detestable creatures who insist on substituting the letter K for the letter C in business names and KW instead of QU and other such indictable crimes against the language. (Kwik Kabs, Klips Hair Salon and, my own favourite, a greasy spoon cafe opposite the Mater Hospital with the marvelous moniker ‘The Tastie Citchen’, pronounced tasty-i-sitchen, I assume.) Personally, one feels that dispatching them with a blunderbus loaded with balls of their own excrement would be far too lenient.

  2. universitydiary Says:

    Thank you, Andrew – and yes, I agree. The trouble is, nobody learns spelling any more as far as I can see, and certainly nobody knows any grammar. Maybe I’m just getting old…

  3. Ultan Says:

    Try having a name that in fact does *not* have an apostrophe:

    http://www.multilingualblog.com/index.php/weblog/in-the-name-of-the-fada/

  4. I.G. Says:

    But what of us with apostrophes in our names? I agree, it is disappointing that the English speaking/spelling population can’t seem to grasp the proper use. I refuse to lower my standards though; we need to expect more of ourselves and our fellow humans!

  5. Isabelle Says:

    My prize for today goes to the one who recently wrote on a web site that “perhap’s we should….” …

    Yesterday’s prize went to a sign in Mullingar on a shop selling “Childrens Shoe’s”.


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