In praise of the endangered

By Jenni Frazer
September 6, 2012

Maybe it is a metaphor for life. But I am increasingly worried about the fate of the apostrophe and its place — and do, please note, how that three-letter word is displayed — in the firmament.

We are long past, it seems to me, the amusement at the so-called "greengrocer's apostrophe", wherein sellers of fruit and veg decorated their shops and market stalls with notices suggesting there were "apples' and oranges'" for sale.

No, things have degenerated. Lynne Truss couldn't publish her best-selling comic look at grammar and punctuation, "Eats Shoots and Leaves" today. Because unfortunately more and more people, even including those who are supposed to have had an education, are putting an apostrophe in a word to denote a plural. Thus such horrors as the "Israeli's" or "the Nazi's" when the - well, I hesitate to call them "writer" — means more than one such person.

I have just received an email from The Times. It refers to "the four Briton's" who were shot in Annecy, in France. If even The Times, with all its plethora of sub-editors and its resident grammatical pedant, Oliver Kamm, can commit this abomination, then all is lost. Apostrophe supporters of the world, unite. And remember, possession is nine points of the law...


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