9.03.2008

perhaps they should have hired a proofreader

This just in from AW1L.

mccainpen

Our friend Alan With One L knows that Allan and I share his teeth-grinding annoyance and mystified incredulity at the misuse of apostrophes for plurals.

Not that I've never confused its and it's. That's a tough one for many people. And non-native speakers of English, especially if they've been through the US's lousy public education system, are to be congratulated if they grasp the possessive apostrophe.

However, the use of apostrophes for plurals is beyond rampant. It's pandemic. The pen has already been pulled, but I hope it enjoys renewed life on the tubes.

Background here.

24 comments:

Amy said...

Yes, I hate the misplaced apostrophe! As you may recall, it was just that issue that brought me out from lurking and into the world of JOS, though I still think that the Herald's use of it in that headline was intentionally "cute." (First Thing's First, meaning First Thing to accomplish is to get First Place, playing on the cliche of First Things First.) Ahhh, remember when we dreamed of first place, and our competitors were the Yankees, not the Rays?

Anyway, I share your pain. Guess those students for McCain need more schooling.

JimBobby said...

Whooee! Good boogin'. I'm a bit of a 'postrophe expert on accounta how often I need to use 'em. Some of the best writers in the Canajun Boogeysphere are 'postrophe-insertin' pluralizers. I don't bother readin' too many Merkan boogs but I reckon they're probbly just as stoopid.

My own pet peeve is with the then/than confusion. "Then" gets used as a comparative preposition all the dang time. As in "He uses 'postrophes more then he should oughta." "Than" doesn't seem to get used incorrectly as often.

I've pretty much given up on tryin' to be the grammar cop, though. Nobody seems to 'ppreciate it when you tell 'em they're dumbasses.

JB

redsock said...

The pen ha's already been pulled, but I hope it enjoy's renewed life on the tube's.

L-girl said...

I've pretty much given up on tryin' to be the grammar cop, though.

Oh yeah. It's a thankless, full-time job.

One of my faves is who's and whose.

L-girl said...

remember when we dreamed of first place

Hey, until the final out of the 2008 World Series, we are still the defending champions.

Amy said...

True, but it seems so many have given up hope of winning the division. I am still cautiously (very cautiously) optimistic even with respect to that issue.

We will be the World "Champion's" once again! Then we can say we are better "then" the other teams. "Whose" gonna stop us? And "who's" right is it to tell us otherwise? ;)

Amy said...

Also, "its" inevitable that our team will rise to "it's" potential.

M@ said...

I'm cool with the theory that there's only one student supporting McCain.

I don't think his 72-year-old grumpy right-wing lunacy plays too well on campus.

L-girl said...

True, but it seems so many have given up hope of winning the division.

That's because there is no hope that we'll win the division. But what of it? 2004 came on the wild card. That works, too.

L-girl said...

I don't think his 72-year-old grumpy right-wing lunacy plays too well on campus.

Students who support McCain would be scary people indeed.

Sarah Gates said...

I'm cool with the theory that there's only one student supporting McCain.

An excellent point! Thanks for posting this, L, I needed a good teeth-gritting laugh.

deang said...

I had barely noticed the plague of misused apostrophes because I've been too busy being annoyed by misused question marks. I've even been keeping a list of examples of wrongly used question marks. It seems that people increasingly punctuate with a question mark if any uncertainty is expressed in a statement ("I don't know what I'd do?") ... or if the word "question" occurs ("I have a question for you?") ... or if any of the question words appear ("I was wondering what you've been up to?"). It has become an obsession of mine.

L-girl said...

I had barely noticed the plague of misused apostrophes because I've been too busy being annoyed by misused question marks.

I guess I've been too busy fuming over all the misused apostrophes to notice the question marks!

I wonder if it's connected to the cadence in which the speaker's voice goes up at the end of every sentence, as if always asking questions. I'm sure you know what I mean - it's pandemic.

Every sentence? Sounds like this? All my nieces and nephews? Who are very smart? All talk like this? It drives me crazy?

Kim_in_TO said...

I've tried to train some of my activist friends to get out of the habit of using "questioning intonation". If you're saying anything of importance, you end up undermining yourself because you don't sound certain or confident, and so you don't inspire others to have confidence in you.

My favourite (meaning my least- favourite) is "fewer" vs. "less".

Also, I love the idea that there is one student supporting McCain.

deang said...

That drives me crazy, too! I've wondered if that might be what it is, and it might be, but then they're not putting question marks on the end of every sentence, the way you'd expect them to given the annoying ubiquity of that every-utterance-sounds-like-a-question thing. They're putting them on any statement that conveys uncertainty, "I don't know where he is?" for instance, or "She's trying to decide where to go tomorrow?" Luckily, it isn't as pandemic yet as the every-utterance-sounds-like-a-question tendency. And since it's only in writing, I don't have to hear it.

Mary said...

I am a stickler (some would say pedant) when it comes to grammar - inherited it from my dad, an editor, of whom Paul St. Pierre once said, "[he] would pause to correct a typographical error in his own execution notice." I have a lot of pet peeves: affect/effect confusion, access as a verb, misuse of apostrophes, lay/lie, that/which, corporate-speak, none/no one as plurals - the list goes on (and on). And I've passed my peeves on to my daughter to the point that, when she was a teenager, I had only to raise an eyebrow when she spoke to me the way she spoke with her friends (sloppily) and she corrected herself instantly.

Now that she's living in the States I am trying to prevent her from adopting hideous Americanisms, but alas, that is probably a losing battle.

impudent strumpet said...

The function of the upspeak is a cue for reaction or acknowledgement. It either means "Are you with me so far?" or it means "You take the lead in this conversation," depending on context.

(Sorry if this is a double post, blogger farted)

L-girl said...

I've tried to train some of my activist friends to get out of the habit of using "questioning intonation".

Wise. If you listen to effective speakers, they never do this.

My favourite (meaning my least- favourite) is "fewer" vs. "less".

That's a good one for me, too.

Although nothing is worse than apostrophes for me.

L-girl said...

I am a stickler (some would say pedant) when it comes to grammar

I am a stickler for grammar, but I try hard not to ever correct anyone's grammar or useage directly. If they're communicating clearly, that's ultimately what counts.

I have a lot of pet peeves: affect/effect confusion, access as a verb, misuse of apostrophes, lay/lie, that/which, corporate-speak, none/no one as plurals - the list goes on (and on).

Now those, I can't see getting upset over, as most people are never taught the difference. I'm a professional writer, with a solid grammar background, but I frequently puzzle over affect/effect. That/which - same, most people never taught. And so on.

I suppose many people would say that about my pet peeves. But with your list, it would seem most people would never pass.

L-girl said...

Now that she's living in the States I am trying to prevent her from adopting hideous Americanisms

What do you consider "hideous Americanisms"? Do you think Canadians have better grammar than USians? I certainly haven't noticed that.

L-girl said...

The function of the upspeak is a cue for reaction or acknowledgement. It either means "Are you with me so far?" or it means "You take the lead in this conversation," depending on context.

Perhaps that was the original function, but I think it became more widespread, and has no function anymore.

impudent strumpet said...

Interesting, I never hear purposeless upspeak. It's always request for acknowledgement, cuing the other person to talk, or deferential.

Are you sure you're not just getting deferential upspeak from younger people?

L-girl said...

Interesting, I never hear purposeless upspeak.

Hm, this makes me wonder if I'm not picking up on the meaning you here, possibly a generational thing. You're an astute observer of language, and if you've never heard it - and if I never hear purpose in it! - then I think I must be missing something!

Are you sure you're not just getting deferential upspeak from younger people?

Wow, I never thought of that. We're all friends, they're young adults (and some old enough to lose the "young" tag on adults), and they're generally not deferential types. However... there might be age deference going on that I was not aware of. Maybe that they're not even aware of.

Hmmm. Interesting!

Kim_in_TO said...

I have heard "purposeless upspeak" many times. It is often between teens, so it is not deferential. It is on every utterance, so when a person is telling a story, it is not a cue for a response from the listener. And lingusitically, a request for acknowledgement becomes self-defeating when it is on every utterance.