Mini-rant 1: The mangled apostrophe

NOTE: This is the first in a series of my “rants”, which break up the narrative sequence of the posts and are shorter than them. The rants (divided into: maxi-rants, midi-rants, mini-rants and micro-rants) will be interspersed with “proper” posts, more of which will follow, of course.

The Apostrophe Protection Society should be delighted: not too long ago, a local newsletter notable for its highly creative use of English carried an article entitled ‘Women’s’ (sic) World Day of Prayer 2014’ – I kid you not. Who says that the apostrophe is endangered? The correct form is, of course, women’s – simply because women is an irregular plural, i.e. a plural not formed through the addition of the suffix -(e)s. While women’s’ might well be a world’s first, the apostrophe is a much abused mark. But, as this is supposed to be a mini-rant, I will recount only one other example: a teacher I once worked with demonstrated a remarkable consistency in spelling peoples’. All my assurances that it was, in fact, people’s fell on deaf ears, my learned colleague insisting that “the apostrophe goes at the end because people is a plural form”, and no amount of elucidation vis-à-vis irregular plurals would persuade her otherwise. What did she teach (and examine)? English as a Foreign Language. I wondered whether I had stumbled across a hitherto unreported reason why some immigrants from non-English-speaking countries trying to learn English in Britain failed to make sufficient progress. I still do …

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2 thoughts on “Mini-rant 1: The mangled apostrophe

    • You are right, but I wanted to give readers some respite from my longer posts. But that’s just the beginning – there will be more (unfortunately). If you visit the website of The Apostrophe Protection Society, you will find FANTASTIC examples of the abused apostrophe.

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