If you're at all interested – and I'm sure you are – you will remember that I have on several occasions called for the abolition of the apostrophe.
With my suggestions I offered real-life examples of misuse to support my case. From memory, my last example was the roadside sign "Cherr'ys".
But I feel even that example has been outdone by the one I spotted and photographed recently. This was professional signwriting on a vehicle and raised the added question of who is responsible for the gaffe?
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If the client said, "This is what I want on my vehicle" and handed the signwriter a written copy, is that the end of the story? Or does the signwriter have a responsibility to notice and point out any errors before committing?
This piece of work had – and probably still has – two errors relating to apostrophes. We can probably overlook the spelling given that two alternatives can be used.
We'll begin with the spelling. "Hooves" is now commonly used and accepted as the plural form of hoof though a number of people still use the more old-fashioned variant "hoofs". So we can't say "hoofs" is wrong, just quaint.
Interestingly "roof" did not follow the same pattern. "Roofs" has long been considered the correct plural but that will of course change as more people use "rooves". It's just another example of the quirkiness of the English language and evidence that we, the people, are in charge.
And so to the apostrophes. I won't keep you in suspense any longer. I will reveal the entire sign professionally painted down the side of this farrier's ute. "Joe's Hoof's & Shoe's".
I trust you can see why I had to stop and photograph it. One of those three apostrophes is correct but the other two are risibly redundant. Is the customer or the signwriter to blame?
I know which one I would blame if it was the signwriter who had this (real) sign outside: "Professional Sign's & Lettering".
I suppose, at least, it is fixable. It's a little harder to fix a tattoo like the old favourite most of you will already know about, "No regerts". Again, is the recipient or the artist to blame? I know which one I would blame if it was the tattoo artist who had this (real) sign outside: "Tattoo's and Body Piercing".
More evidence – this time from the UK – that apostrophe use is really going to the dogs: "No dog's allowed except guide dog's".
And look what happens when a writer types a comma instead of an apostrophe. This was the vegetarian option on a (real) restaurant menu: "Mushrooms stuffed with goats, cheese and pinenuts."
One wonders how they kept the goats still enough to get them into the mushrooms.
While I'm in such a pedantic frame of mind, I'd like to close on another matter which isn't related to apostrophe use but irks me whenever I hear it. When Bradley Walsh closes The Chaser each episode, he invites people to come and give the quiz a try if they think they are "clever" enough.
My peeve – and I know I'm getting very picky here – is that I think the word he is after is "knowledgeable", not "clever".
Simply knowing stuff is not being clever. Clever people manipulate ideas or concepts and make meaningful connections between them. In other words, they use their knowledge in intelligent ways.
Granted, there are occasions when the chasers extrapolate from the clues given by the multi-choice options and that is clever but in essence the show is simply about knowing stuff.
See where being pedantic can lead you! I suppose it could have been worse. It could have been "cleve'r".