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Grocers' And The Abolition Of The Apostrophe


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19 replies to this topic

#1 rolf

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 04:34 AM

I've always been fascinated by (and tried to understand) the rules of grammar as taught to me by a few good (and a couple of not so good) English teachers when I was at school. The subtleties of abbreviation, when to use there/their/they're and many other things including, of course, the apostrophe.

I've always thought I have a fair understanding of the apostrophe and I've had a few, um, heated(?) discussions with like minded people about specific instances of possible apostrophisation based on some of the rules I learned from supposedly educated people. It's possible that some of my teachers may have been mistaken and I'm big enough to admit that I may have misunderstood, however, I watched an episode of QI the other day which has made me re-think my whole approach to this <sarcasm>the most important of life-or-death topics</sarcasm> the apostrophe. (OK, maybe I have too much time on my hands?)

Anyway - Grocers' , Grocer's or Grocers? Which is correct on shop signage? Apparently all of them have been used and accepted as correct by various scholars and I can see the arguments for each.

So, getting to the point, I'm now of the opinion that we should abolish the apostrophe altogether in any situation in which it doesn't add clarity that is not otherwise inferred by context. Ultimately, isn't 'correct usage' dictated by common usage and commonly accepted usage? thus The Web is the perfect place to do this as it's entirely governed by those who make it, so a movement of apostrophe abolitionists could thrive here - how many apostrophes have I used unnecessarily in this post alone?

Disapostrophisationism or anti-disapostrophisationsism - discuss.

#2 1dmf

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 04:49 AM

Why would we want to abolish the apostophe?

It's the difference between there being many, it belongning to someone, or there being letters missing.

Now I'm not the greatest speller in the world, my handwriting sucks, but i'm not illiterate, I know what the apostophe means, even if i use it incorrectly at times.

If you're advocating 'common usage' for words, I guess you want to remove 'is not it' or 'isn't it' and replace it with init.

everyone is now a geezer, and the other is a spouty water thing, should we start calling all women ho's and biatches?

common usage is not acceptable as a guide to whether a word should or shouldn't be used.

Just because half the world is uneducated and illiterate doesn't mean they should dictate what words are in the dictionary or how to spell them.

I'm not against language evolving, but removing the apostophe rule, just because a lot don't understand it, isn't right.

Education, Education, Education... that's far more important!

my penny.gif

#3 rolf

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 05:23 AM

QUOTE
If you're advocating 'common usage' for words, I guess you want to remove 'is not it' or 'isn't it' and replace it with init.


No, I'm not, although I don't see why init shouldn't be in the dictionary - it's been in use for long enough, init?

QUOTE
should we start calling all women ho's

No, hos tongue.gif

QUOTE
common usage is not acceptable as a guide to whether a word should or shouldn't be used


I'm not advocating that anything should be taken out of the dictionary, but common usage is, to me, an entirely acceptable reason for adding things - but that's another topic.

#4 sonjay

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 06:52 AM

QUOTE(rolf @ Dec 1 2009, 05:34 AM) View Post
Anyway - Grocers' , Grocer's or Grocers? Which is correct on shop signage? Apparently all of them have been used and accepted as correct by various scholars and I can see the arguments for each.


I always thought it was just grocer. Unless you're talking about more than one, and then it would be grocers, no apostrophe.

Now.... at the grocer, you can get orange's, and loaf's of bread, and you find some great sale's every week!

#5 1dmf

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 07:37 AM

QUOTE
I'm not advocating that anything should be taken out of the dictionary, but common usage is, to me, an entirely acceptable reason for adding things - but that's another topic.
I know rolf wink1.gif and as I said I understand that language evolves.

But the apostrophe is specific in it's use (see how I just misued it) , if you got rid of the apostrophe, how would you know if its (belogning to) or it is (missing leters) , context is not always easy to spot!

Now when we see these errors, we usually know what is meant to be said and ignore the faux pas, that is acceptable, removing the actual use of apostrophe, in my opinion isn't. But that is just my opinion, and I respect yours even if it's wrong sarcastic_blum.gif

sonjay -> were you being facetious? oranges & loafs of bread, you are talking plural, not belonging to or missing letters out! there is no apostrophe!

Edited by 1dmf, 01 December 2009 - 08:12 AM.


#6 sonjay

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 08:07 AM

QUOTE(1dmf @ Dec 1 2009, 08:37 AM) View Post
sonjay -> were you being facetious? oranges & loafs of bread, you are talking plural, not belonging to or missing letters out! there is no apostrophe!


Of course I was. Grocer's are among the worst offender's when it comes to unneeded apostrophe's. They seem to think that plural's require an apostrophe. wink1.gif

Or, more correctly:

Of course I was. Grocers are among the worst offenders when it comes to unneeded apostrophes. They seem to think that plurals require an apostrophe. wink1.gif

#7 1dmf

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 08:11 AM

lol.gif - nice one, just checking!

#8 rolf

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 08:32 AM

QUOTE
I always thought it was just grocer. Unless you're talking about more than one, and then it would be grocers, no apostrophe.


Well that's what I would have said too but, unless I misunderstood, the whole point of the topic on QI was that all 3 examples have been used repeatedly since the 1800s and all 3 have been deemed correct by authoritative sources. That being the case we would both be technically wrong as the rules are inconsistent and therefore nothing may be implied as an absolutely correct usage making the apostrophe itself less authoritative than it would have us believe.

QUOTE
context is not always easy to spot!


Just to re-iterate, I'm suggesting we should abolish the apostrophe only in any situation in which it doesn't add clarity that is not otherwise inferred by context, therefore if the apostrophe adds something useful then use, it but if it doesn't (such as most instances in this post) then don't - so using it on a groceržs sign would be inappropriate unless for some reason you needed to either convey that there is more than one grocer on the premises or imply who possesses the establishment.

#9 1dmf

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 08:35 AM

QUOTE
Just to re-iterate, I'm suggesting we should abolish the apostrophe only in any situation in which it doesn't add clarity that is not otherwise inferred by context
It's bad enough trying to work out when to put them in, let alone when to leave them out - lol

QUOTE
seem to think that plurals require an apostrophe
They do don't they, well my businesses' do!

#10 qwerty

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 09:56 AM

QUOTE
Anyway - Grocers' , Grocer's or Grocers? Which is correct on shop signage? Apparently all of them have been used and accepted as correct by various scholars and I can see the arguments for each.

I don't know what would be the proper version for signage, but they're all acceptable in conversation -- in the US, the business would be called a grocery and the other terms wouldn't generally appear on signs. The words you listed also don't mean exactly the same thing.

A grocer is a person who works at a grocery. If you think of the grocery as the business operated by that grocer, you can call it "the grocer's."

Grocers are people who work at a grocery. If the grocery is thought of as their place of business, it's the grocers'.


#11 1dmf

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 10:15 AM

The grocers grocers' owned by Pete the grocer

#12 Randy

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 10:49 AM

My head hurts. I wonder why? whack.gif

#13 rolf

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 11:13 AM

http://www.flickr.co...73807@N00/pool/

QUOTE
in the US, the business would be called a grocery and the other terms wouldn't generally appear on signs


Didn't know that. Over here it's common to have a shop that is called a grocers, or even more common to have a greengrocers - (although both are more likely to be called Tesco these days lol.gif) greengrocers especially love the apostrophe and tend to use it wherever they get an opportunity.

#14 qwerty

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 12:02 PM

Here it's usually a grocery, grocery store, market or supermarket. My grandfather was actually a greengrocer (that is, he only sold produce), but I don't think that term is common around here anymore.

#15 copywriter

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 03:53 PM

I agree with Bob. I never call it the grocer. It's the grocery store or the market. BUT it depends on what you want to say.

The grocers all agreed they should close early on Sunday. (Plural, more than one.)

The grocer's car is in the shop. (Possessive, belonging to.)

The grocers' bread vendor was out sick so no stores had bread today. (Plural possessive, belonging to more than one person.)

If you're just making a sign with ABC Grocers, no apostrophe would be used, IMO.





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