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The Apostrophiser
Posted: 03 April 2017 04:35 AM   [ Ignore ]
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This was an item on the BBC lunchtime news.

A man in Bristol has made it his duty to correct signage where apostrophes have been incorrectly used. He either paints them in, or paints over them, in order to correct each sign. His identity remains a secret.

I think he’d fit in just fine here but the question was, is this vandalism?

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Posted: 03 April 2017 05:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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As I read this source, yes it is vandalism (or more precisely criminal damage) under UK law, but wouldn’t generally be considered worthwhile to prosecute as it isn’t “excessive or gratuitous” nor done in furtherance of another crime (e.g., burglary) for which there isn’t sufficient evidence to prosecute.

He (Or she? If their identity is a secret, how do we know it’s not Lynne Truss?) clearly has too much time on their hands. My rule of thumb is that unless you’re a person’s teacher, parent, or editor, you shouldn’t go about correcting their grammar and punctuation.

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Posted: 03 April 2017 07:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Shame on him/her! The grocer’s apostrophe (is it called that in the US?) is a noble tradition among shopkeepers and probably goes back centuries. OK, I’m kidding but I agree with Dave. People’s errors are their own, it isn’t for others to correct them once they’re out of the schoolroom.

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Posted: 03 April 2017 08:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I don’t believe the “noble tradition among shopkeepers” has any particular name in the U.S.

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Posted: 03 April 2017 11:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Dave Wilton - 03 April 2017 05:03 AM

He (Or she? If their identity is a secret, how do we know it’s not Lynne Truss?) clearly has too much time on their hands…

Or a group?  People running around in Guy Fawkes masks correcting apostrophes.  Apostrononymous.

220px-GuyFawkesMask.jpg

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Posted: 03 April 2017 11:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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cuchuflete - 03 April 2017 08:32 AM

I don’t believe the “noble tradition among shopkeepers” has any particular name in the U.S.

I’ve seen (green)grocer’s apostrophe used in a number of American style manuals. The term is very familiar to Americans who discuss grammar and punctuation.

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Posted: 04 April 2017 02:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Dave Wilton - 03 April 2017 05:03 AM

how do we know it’s not Lynne Truss?

Do they add Oxford commas?

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Posted: 04 April 2017 07:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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He calls himself a grammar vigilante, so I think we need to arrange for a semantics vigilante to pay him a visit.

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Posted: 04 April 2017 09:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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For those who have 28 minute’s to s’pare hear the Apostrophiser in person.
I had a chuckle at the very end when he blotted out a Cambridge apostrophe.
Well, if Oxford can have a comma, why can’t Cambridge have an apostrophe?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08kys4c

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Posted: 04 April 2017 11:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Ah. So he uses sticky-back plastic, a pole and a folding table. And it’s not Ms Truss, just another Great British Eccentric. He calls the implement the apostrophiser, I call the man who does it the apostrophiser.  But the word doesn’t officially exist in the OED.  Yet.  When “apostrophiser, n. one who inserts or removes apostrophes”, appears in the OED, this thread title will be one of the first written citations.

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Posted: 05 April 2017 05:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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ElizaD - 04 April 2017 11:02 PM

When “apostrophiser, n. one who inserts or removes apostrophes”, appears in the OED, this thread title will be one of the first written citations.

I wish it were so, Eliza, but the word in both the spelling with s and that with z has been around a long time. In fact the story of the apostrophizer appeared in a Birmingham Metro News story from 2004. The story has unfortunately vanished from its archive and if I try to link to the search result (in which the snippet printed below appears) it simply takes you to the generic Google page. The only way of getting to the snippet is to search for ‘apostrophiser’ and then go to Tools/Any time/Custom range and narrow the search parameters to a specific date range. If you use the range I used (26 Mar 1990 - 26 Feb 2010) the Birmingham Metro News should be the top result and you’ll see the snippet referred to. I think this is probably the same fellow as he talks in some stories of having been active for years.

6 Dec 2004 - Birmingham | Metro News ‘Grammar vigilante’ secretly corrects bad punctuation in the dead of night. He uses a tool called the ‘Apostrophiser’

There are several results too for apostrophizer albeit in a different sense, the earliest being one from 1996, a PDF of an article by MJ Hernáez Lerena the link to which leads to ‘Resource not found’. Once again you need to repeat the process above in order to see this Google snippet.

In these stories, she becomes an “apostrophizer”, or in Culler’s words, an “agent of rescue” of forms and forces she desires to see again.

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Posted: 05 April 2017 11:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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.... http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08kys4c

I cannot get CC or subtitles. I cannot understand 90% of it.

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Posted: 05 April 2017 11:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Are they talking too fast or what, droogie? They don’t have strong accents and I wouldn’t have thought subtitles were necessary.

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Posted: 06 April 2017 05:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I don’t have a problem with it, except on a few occasions when people are talking both quickly and in a low voice.  And I’m a Yank who’s never been near Bristol.

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Posted: 06 April 2017 06:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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ElizaD - 05 April 2017 11:06 PM

Are they talking too fast or what, droogie? They don’t have strong accents and I wouldn’t have thought subtitles were necessary.

I was being flippant, I probably could have understood 90% of it, except as LH said, on a few occasions when people are talking both quickly and in a low voice.
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Posted: 15 May 2017 09:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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A brief recounting of a spurious Greek myth on the origin of apostrophes:

Apostrophes. Son of Ellipses who was visited by Zeus in the form of a gravy tureen. His son Ampersand ruled Crete until the Battle of Hypodiastole.

Apostrophes was known for being selfish, and continuously added letters to his name so that nobody else could have them. In the end his name took over a fortnight to pronounce. This angered Zeus, who once took so long toasting him at a feast that he sobered up, causing him to realize that his new girlfriend was in fact a stoat.

The gods punished Apostrophes by removing every letter from his name, leaving him with a single stroke ( ‘ ). He is thus used to indicate possessiveness to this day.

— T. Mark Hall

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