First Birmingham. Then... THE WORLD!!!


England's second-largest city has decided to drop apostrophes from all its street signs, saying they're confusing and old-fashioned.

Soon Ill control everything... My wish is your command! BWAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

In her best-selling book "Eats, Shoots and Leaves," Lynne Truss recorded her fury at the title of the Hugh Grant-Sandra Bullock comedy "Two Weeks Notice," insisting it should be "Two Weeks' Notice."

"Those spineless types who talk about abolishing the apostrophe are missing the point, and the pun is very much intended," she wrote.

Its not about being right. It was never about being right. Its about winning.


*cue lightning, thunder*


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Bob and I beg to differ.

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

The top of your blog reads:

If we're made in Gods image, God's made of gag, pol, and env.

Shouldn't there be an apostrophe on the first "Gods" too?


By doctorgoo (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink


Shouldn't that be pedant?

Also, I would think the right move, in context, would be to remove the other apostrophes, instead of adding a third in!

In "two weeks notice", there is no possessive: the weeks do not own the notice. It is as correct to say "a two week notice" as it is to say "two weeks notice" or "a five dollar watch". Think of nine-inch nails or two-penny nails or a twelve-gauge shotgun. Two weeks is an amount, as is five dollars and nine inches. Two-penny and twelve-gauge are sizes. The amounts do not own anything, nor do the sizes.

I shop at a farmers market. Now, a farmer's market would be a market owned by a farmer; a farmers' market would be one owned by farmers; a farm market would be a market out in a farm area. My farmers market is in the city. Here, 'farmers' is not a possessive, it is an adjective.

Lynne Truss is a blowhard idiot, as are most grammar nazis and most English grammarians. Remember all those tenses you learned in English? Well, guess what, English has only two tenses, present and past, with auxiliary verbs to project forward into the future, backward into the past, and into both.

Also, you cannot split infinitives in English. Here's an infinitive: go. The word 'to' is a preposition; it is not part of any verb.

By Gilipollas Caraculo (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

"Stand back everyone,
Nothing here to see.
Just imminent danger
In the middle of it, me.

Yes, Captain Hammerâs here
Hair blowing in the breeze
The day needs my saving expertise"

Captain Hammer uses an apostrophe.

Too few apostrophes is better than too many. I wish we could stop people from using apostrophes when they just don't know how to make a noun plural.

Also, you cannot split infinitives in English. Here's an infinitive: go. The word 'to' is a preposition; it is not part of any verb.

By itself, go is the "bare infinitive"; to go is the "full infinitive", with to serving as a particle, not a preposition. (Prepositions, a type of adposition, typically take nouns or noun phrases as their objects.)

So 'ere I was, jus' strollin' through da web, mindin' me own bus'ness, an' up comes dis grammararian, smackin' me up da head!


Shouldn't that [pendant] be pedant?

Clearly, it should be pædant, as it derives from Late Latin pædagogans, present participle of pædagoare, meaning "to lead children", from the Greek paidagogos. The paid- prefix is from the genitive of pais, "child", which goes back to the Proto-Indo-European root *peu- meaning "small", "little", "few" or "young" (and which is the ancestor of our word few, as it happens). The same root shows up in encyclopædia, via the Greek paideia, "education" or "child-rearing".


It's not about winning. It's about whining - in the case of Truss-tard and the "Plain English" liars (I mean, what could be plainer than English without apostrophes?).

But... we need apostrophes! How else would writers indicate that a character is an alien?

Those are ʻokinas.

#13: "it's not about winning. It's about whining - in the case of Truss-tard and the "Plain English" liars (I mean, what could be plainer than English without apostrophes?)."

English with apostrophes, which indicate the difference between plural and possessive, for one. For every person who is aggravated by "stickler" rules, there is another who is equally so when people sacrifice clarity our of laziness, and make it more difficult for everyone else to read their words.

Exception for Abbie, because she does it flagrantly and intentionally enough that it's rather endearing.

By Uncephalized (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

Reading words containing correctly placed apostrophes is confusing? Wh-wh-whaaa? I can understand some people having problems remembering how to use them in their own writing but reading them? Jesus H Christ, and I thought we were meant to be clever this side of the pond. At least I can say it's just the silly English...

Maybe theyre all right and we should get rid of all the apostrophes. After all, who needs to know whether my kids book is a book belonging to my child, a book belonging to my children, or a book that I own that was written for children?

And to Gilipolas, "farmers market" and "farmers' market" are not equivalent. A "farmers market" is a market that is characterized by farmers--i.e., at which farmers are present, or sold (think "a slave market" or "a meat market"). A "farmers' market" is a market OWNED by farmers. No matter what you'd like to think, the apostrophe does actually have meaning.

The apostrophe in "two weeks' notice" doesn't indicate that the weeks own the notice. It's indicating that you're talking about two weeks' worth of notice. You wouldn't say that you got "one weeks pay", right? You say "one week's pay". Similarly, you give "one week's notice" or "two weeks' notice", not "two weeks notice". To "give two weeks notice" means to give notice to two weeks. The weeks don't need the notice--but your boss certainly appreciates getting two weeks' worth of notice that you're leaving! (There's a reason two-penny nails and five-dollar watches DON'T have apostrophes, but DO have hyphens. In those words, the hyphenated phrases are acting as compound modifiers, but they're not indicating a quantity in the same way that "two weeks'" does in two weeks' notice. But if you bought two pennies' worth of nails, they would be two pennies' nails, not two-pennies nails or two-penny nails.)

The goal of grammar and punctuation is to make language clearer. Apostrophes, when correctly used, do just that. Just because a lot of people are too lazy to learn how to use them correctly doesn't mean we should just throw up our hands and give up on clarity of writing. Of course, languages evolve. But I don't think it's "nazi-ish" to strive for clarity--I mean, really, why write something if you don't care if people can understand it??

After all, who needs to know whether my kids book is a book belonging to my child, a book belonging to my children, or a book that I own that was written for children?

There is no verbal equivalent to an apostrophe-- no pause, no inflection, no change in volume, yet somehow we manage to communicate. Its pointless.


"yet somehow we manage to communicate"

That's still open to debate.

Also, Gilipollas, you automatically lose for using the term "Grammar Nazi" (logical fallacy and Goodwin's law). :P

By person man (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

there is no verbal equivalent to capitalization - no pause, no inflection, no change in volume, yet somehow we manage to communicate. it's pointless.

Abbie, I love you anyway, but you are illiterate. Fortunately you are not among those who are "scientifically and technological illiterate," those who I teach against. You are among the English illiterate, a group I usually shun, however, your use of English shines out clearly and beautifully. You and those like you may be inventing a revised Engish, which our descendants may adopt. In the meantime,I'll stick with the ancient ways.

Punctuation has the purpose of increasing the clarity of written language, since spoken language has inflection and emphasis, as well as other characteristics to help understanding.

We need all the help we can get!

In parting, remember that solid rule: "i goes before e, except when it doesn't."


By Bob Carroll (not verified) on 02 Feb 2009 #permalink

The written word was not invented simply to imitate oral language, and all the txtspk in the world cannot change that. Apostrophe use may come and go, but trying to simplify language is ultimately futile.

Let me begin by stating that I'm quite a fan of teh internets slang and its casual murder of the english language, provided of course, that its legible and understandable. I love its ability to transmit ideas quickly and efficiently (which btw, is sort of the whole point of language), bypassing all sorts of largely unnecessary filler words that encumber formal writing. Abbie uses it well - it's concise, funny, and conventional enough to still be easily understandable - the best of both worlds.

That said, that sign needs correcting more than Gamez N Flix.

Apostrophe, unlike his dead sister, Semi-colon, is actually useful and deserves our support. -s = plural. 's = possessive/contraction. That's the plan. I know that there are all kinds of exceptions and it's too difficult for apparently an unnervingly large portion of society, but it does its job well and prevents a lot of confusion. So don't neglect him, especially when conveying a clear message is really important, like on signs.

Not using apostrophes works pretty well in german. Of course, they also have a highly inflected grammar. We will simply change our writing style to make clear the things which absolutely must be made xcjjdlklledj.

Apostrophe or no', HG is pants and the lovely Sandra ought to be ashamed of herself. Nice pwnage of the guy upthread who buys farmers, though.
Also, Abbie, the more you go on about this, the more we imagine that's your photo top-left.

Bah. This is what you get when you use a language that doesn't have an inflection. They don't need apostrophes in many other languages, because of inflections denote possessive or number.

All for giving English back a clear, genitive inflection? Here, here?


By TheEngima32 (not verified) on 19 Feb 2009 #permalink