Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Apostrophe’s: method to their wrongness

We’ve been discussing apostrophes at work. Rock ’n’ roll.

Clearly, there are some people who put apostrophes everywhere and others who drop them in pretty much randomly; these are cases of straightforward mindlessness and decent, sensible folk can all agree that these people need to be rounded up and fed to rabid otters who have been specially trained to build dams out of human bone.

But I have a theory (my colleagues are unconvinced) that there’s another group of people who get apostrophes wrong selectively because they are, in effect, following a (wrong) rule. I think that their approach is like this:

Usually you don’t put an apostrophe before the s when you’re giving a plural. But there are exceptions. If the word ends with a vowel and just adding an s would change the vowel sound to make it wrong, you should also add an apostrophe:

  • taxi’s not taxis (otherwise it would sound like taxiss)
  • zebra’s not zebras (zebrass)
  • logo’s not logos (logoss).

So, do a fair number of people specifically believe in this exception? Certainly, these sad cases seem to be up for it (assuming that the cuprits were thinking at all).

If so, then they are at least trying to make sense out of the crazy world of punctuation, and they probably don’t deserve death by otter. A corrective programme of electric shock treatment should do it.

1 comment:

davidmww said...

There is a shop near me with a fascia saying:


Otters would be letting that one of lightly.

I think you might be onto something with the vowel ending thing.