Saturday, 18 February 2012

Should we try to keep up the standards?

I have been into Ripon to the hairdresser's salon today. Have I put the apostrophe in the correct place? Yes, of course I have. But on the way back I noticed the following signs - ICES'
Banana's and Coffee's and Tea's. And I remembered from my days of teaching English in a Comprehensive School that one of the most difficult things to eradicate was a pupil's tendency to put an apostrophe in front of every s they come to. (Using'they' instead of 'he' or 'she' here is another irritation, but that is another story.)

And I do begin to wonder if teachers are banging their heads against a brick wall; if it might not be better to stop using the apostrophe all together. Is it only me who is irritated by its misuse? Really, I would rather there was no apostrophe than one in the wrong place' I will be interested to see what you think.

And while we are on the subject of signs placed on the side of the road - I passed a very funny one this afternoon, coming back from Ripon. There was a sale advertised in a village hall from 2pm to 4pm - and according to the sign it was a sale of( and I quote) "Second Hand Children".
I certainly don't want one of those - don't know how you feel!


Rarelesserspotted said...

I have the same hang ups about apostrophies and I do try to get it right. Interestingly, my bible on words, grammar, vocabulary, spelling, usage and style: The Sunday Times 'Wordpower Guide' says that if you own a name as a company name for example, then they are entitled to do with apostrophies what they wish - good or bad grammar. Personally, I don't like to see bad apostrophy use because it detracts from what the message is.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Isn't it called the market trader's apostrophe from their tendency to insert one at every possible opportunity? Local authorities, on the other hand seem to have done away with them altogether as in St Johns Close, Millers Drive etc.
I suppose I work with second-hand children. They're great!

Cynthia Monica said...

Yes, I totally agree! Apostrophes in the wrong place can ruin ones day... :o)

Anonymous said...

I feel that the problem is that the teachers don't know where to put them any more. I worked with a young person several years ago who told me that her teacher advised her that it didn't matter and, that it was acceptable to use an exclamation mark at the end of every sentence. I was stunned as you might imagine.

Bovey Belle said...

Snap over the apostrophe hang-ups. Makes me grind my teeth! Even more than that is seeing an apostrophe put where it doesn't belong AT ALL - like the road I grew up in. Butts Road was that - NOT Butt's Road!!! it was named after the Rifle Butts in the valley next to it.

Heather said...

We often have signs for 'Baby Sales' in our town. Poor babies.
I think it is dreadful that English grammar is no longer taught in many of our schools. No wonder that so many children grow up not being able to speak or use their own language correctly. There are often grammatical errors in newspaper reports and it appears that no-one on the staff knows enough to correct them. I sometimes have to chuckle at the spelling on hand written signs in greengrocers' shops, but I suppose it is more important that the produce is fresh.

Pondside said...

I'm with you, Pat! Long gone are the days of parsing sentences. It's really too bad. I cringe whenever I recall a large billboard sign 'Gerard Bank - For Everything You Need a Band For'.
Like fingernails on a chalkboard!

H said...

I didn't know that you used to teach English in a Comprehensive School :)
I totally agree about incorrectly placed apostrophes being a major source of irritation, though I can far more readily accept it from a diddy year three who has been 'taught' about apostrophes in Infant school but not quite 'got it', than I can from a trader's sign written, presumably, by an adult.

Dominic Rivron said...

I'm with you on the apostrophes.

However, I think the adoption of "they" in some circumstances instead of he or she might be a good thing, particularly in situations where the alternative would be to write "he or she". I think "they" is on the rise specifically for this reason - people wanting to write in a way which is not gender specific.

MorningAJ said...

Don't start me on apostrophes! We've actually had the discussion today while we were driving to Scarborough. (I needed to see the sea)

It was all to do with what people call the shop 'Boyes'. If a word ends in 's' do you add the second 's'? Is it Boyes' or Boyes's?

(We have such riveting discussions.....)

The Solitary Walker said...

I love (the correct use of) the apostrophe. Let's fight for it. Even at this eleventh hour, it's not too late!

Second hand children? Good God, first hand ones (and that's ones not one's or even ones') are enough for me.

Helsie said...

Without the correct grammar our language loses meaning. Just because it is sometimes difficult ( read you have to stop and think )is no reason to abandon teaching it.
PS. New word verification makes commenting very time consuming and difficult

Tom Stephenson said...

Greengrocer's apostophies's's's's's'

Actually Weaver, I am not going to comment again on your blog, if you require us to type in TWO word verifications. Sorry.

rkbsnana said...

I don't know what second hand children are. Are they handed down or are they talking about their children's second hand? Well...I'm just being silly. My pet peeve is that children are not being taught cursive writing. My 14 year old grandchild said they are allowed to complete compositions in "text talk".

Elizabeth said...

What about the quick lines at the supermarket
"Five items or Less" ?........... poor 'fewer' has been lost in the shuffle.(Not to mention SELDOM)
Did you read the lovely little book "Eats shoots and Leaves"? Such a fun read for dreary pedants like us who cringe at misplaced everything.
It's a total lost cause, Pat.
I'm off to the dog run to relax!
Hope you have a good Sunday lunch!

ps: such horrid, difficult word verifications on everyone's blogs these days. Can't read thm without great difficulty.

Elizabeth said...

or spell THEM....

Eryl said...

Punctuation is just a tool for getting the thing said. So, for me misplaced apostrophes (or commas etc.) irritate hugely if they obscure meaning or confuse. If meaning is clear then I try to let it go.

Our language is alive and, thus, it changes constantly, Mostly, I can live with that.

Frances said...

I am so glad that I did have excellent grammar lessons in my long ago childhood. I'm also still grateful to have studied Latin for four years.

In my current career, I encounter communications from professionals who might not have had such classes. These folks are several decades younger than I am. There may, or may not, be a connection.

Golden West said...
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LeenaH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LeenaH said...

I know, I am now in a wrong place with all kind of mistakes of your fine language.
But I read all those comments. Of course I did not have any clue what is your problem with apostrophes. I thought I can use it always when something is somebody`s and so on :)
It must be horrible to read comments like mine but I tell you about my school.
When I was ten, I had to start to learn Swedish because it is the second official language of our country. When I was thirteen others started to learn English others German.
I started to study German.
As fifteen years old I got English and Latin. This language program was obligatory to every pupils for a matriculation examination about at the age eighteen. After that I started to study Biology and Geography ( Geology Chemistry . . ) in the University and I got English Swedish and German books to read for examination. And I did not learn really to speak any of these languages even we lived 11 months in Scotland in the small village called Kinmuck.
Now I wish you a good beginning week!

Indefinite articles or definite ones ?? Difficult among other things :)

19 February 2012 07:01