Sunday, November 21, 2010

In defence of grocers and their grammar.

I quite like writing, and I like getting it right. The rules for the English language aren't the hardest in the world to learn but there are a lot of inconsistencies. We're told in grade 4 "i" before "e" except after "c" and yet the most commonly used word that has an "i" and a "e" is "their". This makes for a confusing introduction.

Then of course you've got your plurals and possessives. It is a delight of pedants to get nice and angry over the local fruit shop owner and his delight in writing "Avocado's". Perhaps, I always think to myself, he's making some sort of existential comment about his produce.

"Tangerines" is short hand for "Tangerines are available". Perhaps "Tangerine's" is short hand for "Tangerine IS". A claim to you, the potential purchaser, that tangerines exist and an attempt to excite and enthuse you with the recollection of its existence. With this in mind the local junk mail takes on a very "People's Republic" feel.


Not a Nazi. Grammar nor otherwise.

There's one rule though, that always breaks me. I understand that "dogs" means multiple dogs, and that "dog's" can abbreviate "The dog is". ie. "The dog's surfing on the last segment on 'A Current Affair'". It can also mean it is possessive. ie. "the Dog's paws".

But use a possessive pronoun and it all falls apart. If "It is" then you can write "it's". That makes sense. But if "it" possesses something then you write "its". There's no frigging reason to not put an apostrophe! Why make such an arbitrary rule?

The dog's paws.
Its paws.

They both possess.

It doesn't make any sense. It is arbitrary and weird.

I mean wierd.

I mean...


1 comment:

  1. I used to worry about apostrophes on signs until I read a great article by Stephen Fry. The general gist of the article - Historically, there has never been a common consensus on the use of apostrophes. The modern age has not seen a growth of misuse. It has always been 'misused'.
    If Mr Fry doesn't see the need to panic about apostrophes then neither do I.


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