Monthly Archives: April 2017

The Much Abused Apostrophe

Lynne Truss gave it the most apt of descriptions – a “satanic sprinkling of redundant apostrophes.” Her example was different but couldn’t have been more hilariously striking than this blue-bordered one-liner in today’s Ottawa Citizen’s proud full page ad for Real Canadian Superstore:


Seeing full page ads in any newspaper is a happy occasion nowadays for those of us who cling to the timeless custom of daily subscriptions and faithful perusing of its contents from cover to cover. No question that such advertising spreads catch the eye of even the least fervid of shoppers.

But there is a price to be paid for thus snaring the consumer – beware of dumb and silly mistakes in whatever you choose to print.

Reading all the way to the bottom of a full page ad may well be an uncommon experience but on this occasion it was probably fated to happen. Fact is that lately I have been re-reading that delightful British #1 best bestseller Eats, Shoots and Leaves, Lynne Truss’s witty exposition of what she calls “the zero tolerance approach to punctuation.” Her book is chock full of bizarre but all too familiar examples of the savagery with which countless offences against the fundamentals of English grammar are committed in everyday parlance and publishing.

Putting apostrophes where they don’t belong may be one of the least forgivable of such transgressions. It’s almost as bad as the nearly universal ignorance of the difference between it’s and its!

(Just a moment – my Word spell checker dared to tell me I had to change that it’s to its. No wonder the world’s ignorance so easily thrives!)

If only everyone understood that it’s is merely another way of saying it is. However its denotes possession just like his and her. Oh well, enough about grammar.

But please, let’s not let advertisers get us sticklers on their backs when they should really know better.

Or maybe just hire a copy editor!


What makes a public speaker go wrong?

How about a tendency to intersperse spoken words with that most tentative of hesitations – an “ah.”

It is a significant pause in delivery, occasioned usually by the speaker’s inability to project his thoughts far enough ahead to deliver a complete sentence.

Well may it be a totally unconscious habit which the speaker has not thought to correct. Or one that his family and friends have refrained from bringing to his attention.

A trait forgivable perhaps within family circles, but hardly tolerable in a public figure.

Like, say, the Prime Minister of Canada.

Especially one who appears almost hourly in one public dais or another from coast to coast and beyond.

Yet, hearken ye acolytes to what the Justin voice projects before the public ear!

Listen closely when he speaks off the cuff to reporters or to audiences great and small.

Just count how many “ahs” punctuate his vocabulary in a delivery otherwise quite articulate.

Whether one is fan or foe, hearing such oratorical no-nos from the lips of a country’s leader gives one pause – no pun intended!

The “ahs” in his unscripted utterances, once you begin to notice them, become totally distracting.

Maybe all he needs is someone bold enough to warn him off his hesitating habit.

Or, perhaps – dare we say it – tell him to take a lesson on the dos and don’ts of public speaking?

It’s – ah – never too late!



sophisticated socks

sophisticated socks

Ever get to the stage that all you can think of is:

Now I’ve seen it all?

Even when all you’re doing is picking up a new pair of socks.

Putting quirky colours on them is one thing.

just socks

just socks

Quirky names even more so.

And giving directions on how to put them on is not even new any more.

Not since TGIF became a sort of household word.

What weary office worker has never uttered the term in sheer relief at the end of one’s work week?

Thank God it’s Friday! Or just TGIF, for short

Did you know there are websites today devoting all one’s attention to the various meanings of that now quite common expression?

One of them lists off about 28 variations, most of them embarrassingly innocuous.

Saved only by one inclusion: Tadpoles Grow Into Frogs.

But let’s come back to socks.

With socks, TGIF takes on an entirely different, albeit instructive, meaning:

Toes Go In First.

All very useful, no doubt, especially for those afflicted in some way with directional shortcomings.

But now, someone has come up with yet another embellishment, calculated to comfort the more hesitant of our breed when faced with the everyday task of donning a pair of socks.

Just mark them cleary L for Left and R for Right.

We can now decide at a glance which one to put on the left foot, and which on the right.

Ahh, such sublime satisfaction in putting’s one’s best foot forward as a new day dawns.