Friday, December 02, 2005

May All You're Christmas's Be White

Well, its getting on toward's that time of year again. Yes, thats right: snow, and mistletoe and present's neath the tree.

Hands up those who by this point have started trembling and foaming at the mouth and have mentally reached for the red correction marker. Good. You may now relax in the knowledge that I'm just messin' with ya.

Yes the true scariness of the season is upon us - the willy-nilly proliferation of dire punctuation, in particular the crucifixition of the poor old apostrophe. It's bad enough at anytime, but for some reason Christmas just seems to encourage people to go wild with the little guy.

For those of you with strong stomachs, a visit to The Apostrophe Protection Society* will get your toes a-curlin' at the wonderful and inventive ways in which folks have decided the apostrophe should be employed.

And if your out and about over the Festive Season with you're camera's, and happen to see any sign's or notice's that you think might amuse us here at The Cow, be sure to send em on in...

A big pre-Yuletide kiss to weirdpixie for understanding just how much the APS would appeal to my highly developed sense of pedantry.

*See also: Apostrophe Abuse (Thanks Anne)


Anonymous anne arkham said...

Also good: Apostraphe Abuse

You know what I've always wondered? When you're writing about math, and you need to refer to multiple occurrences of the variables x and y, how do you write that? Do you write about getting all the x's on one side of the equation and all the y's on the other? Writing xs and ys doesn't sound right, either. And it's not like you can write out 'eckses and whys'.

Jill? I'm looking at you.

December 02, 2005 3:40 PM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

You write n(x), n(y)!

That's why we have maths, so we can not try and talk about those things in talky-type language...

December 02, 2005 3:45 PM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

'Apostrophe Abuse' appears to be dead btw.

December 02, 2005 3:48 PM  
Blogger Joey Polanski said...

At last th littl lettr that nevr was is allowd t play freely wit th real lettrs. Th spirt of Chrismas is alive an well.

December 02, 2005 4:17 PM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

Ah yes, Joey, I know that you are a man for playing loose and fast with the tinkery bits of the language. But you have style, my man; people who write 'XMAS Tree's 4 Sale' don't.

December 02, 2005 4:20 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

Just photos of signs that butcher punctuation, or would you like particularly memorable excerpts from student essays as well?

Yes, it is proper to use the apostrophe to pluralize numbers (the 1990's); letters (L's); symbols (&'s); abbreviations (MRI's); and words when referred to as words (Why do you have four of's in this one sentence?

December 02, 2005 5:00 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

) !

And it is also proper to close your pair of parentheses. That's why they come in pairs. I'm so OCD when it comes to punctuation. I wanted to cry when I read the first line of your post.

December 02, 2005 5:07 PM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

See, now I'm going to have to show you how pedantic I really am. Curses.

I wouldn't use apostrophes in numbers. I would write "It happened in the 1990s". Likewise with acronyms "How many CDs do you have?" The APS seems to be on my side in this respect.

See. I can't help myself. You nearly cried reading that first line. You have NO idea how hard it was to purposefully write it!

December 02, 2005 5:12 PM  
Blogger jedimacfan said...

Just say everything like Gollum. Instead of using an apostrophe, just add "es" or lots of sssssss to the end of your sentecessssssss.

Yes, preciousssss, we needsssss the Houdini CDsssssss from the nasty, tricksy, false Australianses.

See? Much better.

December 02, 2005 9:57 PM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

I like the way you think jedimacfan, I like the way you think.

December 02, 2005 10:19 PM  
Blogger Radioactive Jam said...

I don't know if I can explain what this post does to (and for) me. Like a dentist's probe in a cracked tooth ("Aaugh!" "Oh...does that hurt?") the title and first sentence poke one of my more sensitive neuroses; nothing unusual, happens all the time. Then I read on, and into the comments... feels like I've wandered into a room full of people who turn out to be long-lost brothers and sisters.

Which is of course sad bordering on pathetic, but I'm okay with that.

I recently listened to a great audio book, "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" by Lynne Truss. You'd understand.

December 03, 2005 2:24 AM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

'Eats, Shoots & Leaves' has pride of place on my book shelf. Next to Bryson's wonderful 'The Mother Tongue'

Welcome to the family.

December 03, 2005 3:10 AM  
Anonymous anne arkham said...

Anaglyph: n(x) and n(y) are functions of variables x and y; I'm talking about the variables x and y themselves.

Jill: Thanks. You rule.

Everybody: Another shot at linking Apostrophe Abuse

December 03, 2005 9:31 AM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

AA: So might you say, then, "My equation had 7 "y"s and 4 "x"s?

I've linked 'Apostrophe Abuse' in the post proper. Ta.

December 03, 2005 10:01 AM  
Blogger weirdpixie said...

Nice post, anaglyph, and splendid job working in that link!

December 03, 2005 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Cissy Strutt said...

hello my brothers & sisters in Punctation, all those who enjoyed Lynn Truss's excellent "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" will be further delighted by her new one "Talk To The Hand" about etiquette - superb.

December 03, 2005 1:23 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

I didn't say I enjoyed pluralizing with apostrophes. I just said that there are style manuals that consider it proper. It drives me crazy. As does the fact that you must omit the apostrophe from the possessive "its" because otherwise it reads as the contraction.

December 03, 2005 6:22 PM  
Anonymous anne arkham said...

"You want to get all your x's on one side of the equation, and all your y's on the other side." I used to teach math. I cannot begin to count the number of times I have written that sentence. Always wondered if I should use an apostrophe or not. But, yes, that's the idea.

Glad Apostrophe Abuse finally worked.

December 05, 2005 4:19 PM  
Anonymous anne arkham said...

And you know what else is good? Literally, A Weblog.

December 05, 2005 4:22 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Oh, that is so good. And "Thank's" for the link. ;)

December 07, 2005 6:27 AM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

No problem's Chris. Its Anne Arkham you should really be thanking for pointing you out. We are alway's chuffed to have new pedant's on board here at The Cow.

(ooh that hurt's)

December 07, 2005 6:35 AM  

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