By Mark Pepper
One of these days, I will walk into a burger bar and start a conversation thus:
“Good evening, might I enquire as to whether you are the proprietor of this fine establishment?”
“Yeah, what can I get you?”
“We shall come to that – first things first. I have been perusing your menu board and I have some questions regarding the incomplete sentences thereupon.”
“Firstly, what is your cheeseburger?”
“Uh … it’s a cheeseburger.”
“You misunderstand. It says ‘Cheeseburger is’. Cheeseburger is what? Or perhaps you sincerely do mean ‘Cheeseburger’s’, in which case I would like to enquire exactly what is belonging to said cheeseburger.”
“Do you get punched a lot?”
“It has happened. Moving onto your ‘Fish & Chip is’, or perhaps there is something that is belonging to the chip that you have also failed to mention on your board due to restrictions of space.”
“It’s fish and chips, dickhead.”
“You mean I get more than the one chip advertised?”
“Do you want some food or not?”
“What about your ‘Pizza is’? In fact, by the look of that one in your oven, I think you wanted to say ‘Pizza’s burned’.”
“Shit … please just go away.”
“No problem, customer’s leaving. And by that I mean that I, a singular customer, am leaving.”
Really, what is the problem with apostrophes? What is so difficult to understand? They are used possessively or to replace a missing letter. End of story. I know I’m coming across as a pedant (again, yawn), but this is unacceptable. I think anyone unable to use apostrophes should be shot. Obviously in some non-fatal place about their person – I don’t want to get too heavy about this.
How many times have you seen menu boards that list “burger’s” and “pizza’s”, etc, or ads for “hundreds of bargain’s”? What criteria do these people use? They’re not even consistently wrong about it. Some plural words get an apostrophe, some don’t. Surely “hundreds” should also have an apostrophe.
I’m wondering why the sign writers/makers don’t alert their customers to their mistakes. Do they also not know proper grammar, or do they just not think it’s any of their business to point it out?
A couple of the worst examples I’ve seen were on trucks when I was living in the UK. One was a pick-up truck owned by a builder who confidently assured the public: “All aspect’s of construction work undertaken”. Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhggg. Then there’s the catering firm that emblazons “The Caterer’s” all over its fleet of trucks. Yes, The Caterer is crap at grammar.
The most confusing, therefore possibly forgivable, has got to be its/it’s. Because “its” is possessive, it may seem appropriate to stick an apostrophe in. But, following that logic, you would also have to say “hi’s book”.
This problem does not exist in Spain because they don’t use apostrophes. I believe Franco grew so tired of shooting people who couldn’t use them that he banned them. Where we say “that’s my car”, the Spanish say “that is the car of mine”; “his father’s house” is “the house of his father”; “Mark’s an annoying pedant” is “Mark is an annoying pedant”. This is a much better system, and I would like to see it imposed, by law, on anyone proven to be using apostrophes poorly (prior to them being shot if all else fails). It should also apply to their spoken language, so they would have to say: “The new rule of Mark … it is not a fair rule and I do not like it”. Hopefully, they’d be so embarrassed at sounding like someone from the nineteenth century that they would learn all there is to know about apostrophes.
Jeez, I’m glad I got that off my che’st. Thank’s for reading thi’s and I think I might have a few beer’s now.