Very much enjoyed Iain Shedden’s article in the Review section of the Weekend Oz. I always find myself shaking my head and, on many occasions, groaning loudly when faced with signs, advertisements, menus and other such items that blatently misuse the humble apostrophe.
As Shedden pointed out mistakes often abound in references to decades – ’70s, ’80s and ’90s (or 70’s, 80’s and 90’s as many would have you believe) – and entertainment (CDs and DVDs – did people formerly write tape’s, record’s and radio’s? Could the misuse of apostrophes be directly linked to the advent of new technology?).
Working in regional newspapers I was constantly confronted by people referring to the A’s, B’s and under 18’s in their sports reports and it was all I could do to not beat them about the head with a giant grammar book.
One of the most common mistakes I come across now is childrens – chidrens menu, childrens centre, childrens clothing… Watch closely everyone – it is ALWAYS children’s. There is no other option. I like Bill Bryson’s reference to this particular error in his book on troublesome words, aptly named Troublesome Words. He writes:
The error (childrens) is a sign of fundamental illiteracy and to be deplored at every instance.
There was a discussion on the local ABC Radio station this morning about which subjects primary schools should include in their curriculum. I have a new one – Apostrophe Studies. All students MUST pass to continue their schooling and I vote Iain Shedden as their mentor.