Wednesday, April 5, 2017

UK grammar vigilante tackles apostrophe error's

Ed. here. Assiduous readers will know that the abuse and misuse of the humble apostrophe (') makes me [and Walt! Walt] wild. Sometimes we think we are alone in our campaign to stamp out egregious errors such as "It pay's to go Peugeot!" or "The Anderson's", referring to a family named "Anderson" who presumably live in the house so sign-posted. We are therefore encouraged by reports of others who are fighting the good fight for grammatical correctness. Agent 34 sends along this one, from the education section of The Grauniad.

For more than a decade, an unidentified corrector of poor English has been venturing out in the dead of night and tidying up the punctuation on store fronts and street signs in Bristol, England. On Monday, the BBC announced it had tracked him down and had accompanied him on one of his night-time missions.

The first sign he tackled, the man said, was council sign -- "Monday's to Friday's" -- and had "these ridiculous apostrophes, which I was able to scratch those off." He also corrected fixed a "gross" shop sign which read "Amys Nail's". "It was so loud and in your face. I just couldn’t abide it. It grates," he told the Beeb. Here we see him sorting out "Cambridge Motor's". The owners of the business thanked him for correcting the mistake.

The still unidentified language purist told the BBC, "I'm a grammar vigilante. I think it's a cause worth pursuing." He said he began by scratching out an extraneous apostrophe on a sign, but had since become more sophisticated and has built an "apostrophiser" -- a long-handled tool that allows him to reach up to shop signs to add in, or cover up, offending punctuation marks. "This is a device that enables you to plant an apostrophe quite high up and get over any obstacles," he said.

He also has a specially made stepladder that means he does not have to lean a conventional ladder against shop windows, and carries a set square and scalpel to make sure his work is neat and precise. When it was put to him that what he was doing was probably illegal, his defence was staunch: "I’m sticking on a bit of sticky-back plastic. It's more of a crime to have the apostrophes wrong!"

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