Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Primer On Apostrophe's

I have a problem. That problem being that I am naturally pretentious. As such, it drives me right up to the edge of insane when I see typos on menus or road side signs. Yes, I realize that there are people in the world whose main daily problem is mere survival, but I've got that issue licked, so I can focus on the trivial.

It's about standards, and this country is reaching a point where we have none. We've gone from a society in which the dumb are feared and mocked for their ignorance and unpredictability to one in which the intelligent are mocked because of their smarts and demand for standards. I'm not sure about you, but I don't like being smarter than the President. I find it to be awkward. Incidentally, how the dumb flipped the conventional wisdom on intelligence around on the smart is one of the great paradoxes in American history.

With the dumb now prevailing, making mistakes is no longer a shameful act, as it might be in Europe, India or Asia. Rather, it's commonplace. The general reaction is "Whatever". With a modern generation beginning to assume more positions of influence, we're even seeing typos and apostrophe mistakes turn up in commercials and television graphics. Not because people missed it, but because they can look at it and not even realize there is a mistake.

Right now, if you're thinking "Who cares? It's just an apostrophe. It's not like the end of world." congratulations. You are officially part of the problem! Feel shame! Feel shame now!

Here's a fun little game that will bring the whole family together around a roaring fire. I call it, Spot The Incorrect Apostrophes In The Following Paragraph. Or, STIAITFP. Say it, STEE-aye-tifp.

The Capicola family passed through Ellis Islands' gates in the 1920's. They were a family who's appetite was renowned and the Capicola's had the Italian's love of pasta. In the 70's, Andre' Capicola gave up growing tomato's and canteloupe's on it's families' farm and invented the VCR. Since then, they have sold millions of VCR's and Capicolas money let's him play bocce every day.

If you answered "They're all wrong!" hurrah for you! You're smart enough to be scoffed at by McCain voters. The plural of acronyms do not get an apostrophe, it's VCRs. Decades get the apostrophe in front, as in '70s. And for some reason, people think when a word ends in a vowel, the plural form needs an apostrophe. How this started is beyond me. And when you have a word ending in a vowel that is plural possessive, forget it. All bets are off. I'm surprised people don't write Capi'co'la's' just to play it safe. The Capicolas' farm, that is correct. Andre Capicola's VCR wealth, that is correct.

We just have to care, everybody. We just have to care. Let's start caring together, you and me!

1 comment:

tykejohnson said...

shouldn't it be:

"The Capicola's farm," since Capicola is the name of the family and not Capicolas, which would necessitate the ' to follow the "s"? Are you talking about several Capicola families? Or is this just for superficial Italian family names? What about superficial Irish family names? Would it be:
"The McGraths' farm," or "The McGrath's farm,"? Note that we're only talking about one family of McGraths? Or since a family denotes more than one person, is the last name automatically plural when talking about said families common ownership of property and other shared characteristics?