In defence of the apostrophe

The Apostrophe Protection Society has criticised those responsible for the ‘Frans Crash Repairs’ advert on a giant advertising billboard on the N8 (near the Portlaoise bypass.) Chairman John Richards said, “It is inexcusable, largely because I assume it was produced by a professional sign-writer who didn’t know his job. It is unacceptable because nobody bothered to check the accuracy of the sign.”

  • willis
  • Dualta

    When being interviewed by a London newspaper, Oscar Wilde was asked what he had done with his day and his reply was:

    “I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.” Nuff zed.

  • moochin photoman has also picked up on this pedantry……be warned not for the faint of heart….its a decidedly un PC blog and also quite funny.

  • abucs

    Three cheer’s for the Apostrophe Protection People !!!

  • moochin photoman

    and whilst on the discussion of grammer and punctuation, i found two grammatical errors this weekend whilst out and about…..

    1 On Freedom corner a muriel depicting a UDR soldier explaining the history “……was an infRantry regiment”
    the second, on an info panel put up by the East Belfast Historical Society just off Lord St is describing Brittannia as a female figure and the personification of Britain. Fine so far, it goes on to explain that Brittania….
    “acquired her trident in 1797 to symbolise British NAVEL superiority”

  • nestormakhno

    ‘its a decidedly un PC blog’

    I hope that was intentional, moochin….

  • moochin photoman

    might have been!

  • foreign correspondent

    Ok, it is pedantry all right. I would be more worried about how many people might need to avail of Fran´s services, considering how badly some people drive in Ireland. However to remain with the thread, the biggest single apostrophe mistake must be when its and it´s are confused. It doesn´t seem too hard to remember that it´s can only be used in place of it is or it has, and that the possessive pronoun can be never be written with an apostrophe, yet people constantly get it wrong.

  • Nevin

    Perhaps there should be a fada protection society ..

  • abucs

    Is that as opposed to the inBacktry regiment ?

  • Miss Fitz

    My favourite of all time is the present work on the Westlink in Belfast

    The original flashing board went up with the legend:


    Way to go Roads Service. It stayed up for several weeks and has now been amended!

  • Nevin

    Miss Fitz, didn’t you have time to read the whole message: “Your speeding fine is in the post”? Slow down!!

  • smc’giff

    If Fran was unknown before, it’s not the case now. Maybe the sign writer was a marketing genius? … Mmm


  • Miss Fitz

    Yes indeed Nevin.

    Yet more evidence of the unwholesome, pathetic and dreary place Belfast is proving itself to be.

  • It amazes me how people who make signs get to do so despite the fact that they clearly have little grasp of the English language. Even more shocking is that their presumably highly paid managers also fail to recognise missing apostrophes, etc. Would a bricklayer get a job if he forgot to put the cement between the bricks? In fact, at the minute there is a pre-printed sign at the tills in Sainsbury’s which neglects to include the requisite apostrophe- if our biggest retailers cannot frame sentences properly, then what chance is there for everyone else?!

    I spotted a really bad handwritten sign outside a shop on Castle Street on Saturday- I can’t quite remember what it said, but it was one of those ones which has ‘-ys’ at the end of a word instead of ‘-ies’, in addition to a wrongly spelt word elsewhere, the type of which almost provokes one to kick over the sign and reprimand the manager of the store in front of which it is placed…

    Here are a few other similar such examples which I spotted a while back.

    I’m off for a Horlicks (or should that be Horlick’s?).

  • abucs

    Very clever Nevin.

    i don’t know about you guys but i’m a touch happy they employ those kind of people to write signs.

    ….it makes me feel so superior. :o)

    actually some of the signs you see are quite funny and useless.

    “Watch out for trees” is one of my all time favourites together with those male/female office signs telling you how to use the toilet cubicle !

  • Alan Law

    Miss Fitz, I was suprised when approaching the Dunsilly exit off the M2 to be warned by a sign erected by the Roads Service “Votre Vitesse 54km/h”….maybe its easier that using the incorrect English grammar?

    I understand the need to reach out to our continental cousins, I am just not quite sure how many French speakers live in Stiles and Rathenraw estates…who knows?

  • There was a cracker headline in a Derry paper a few weeks ago about the council wanting to flatten “runaway houses”.
    If the houses could leg it out of the path ofaircraft then they wouldn’t need to be demolished in the first place….

  • Nevin

    Abucs, toilet signs can be confusing. I remember many years ago killing some time in the Railway Arms(?) in Coleraine. An elderly man swayed towards the toilets, swithered about the symbols – and entered the ladies. There was a round of applause when he reappeared, apparently oblivious to the cause.

  • Alan Law

    Ballymena suffered a similar apostrophe disaster a few years ago following some new signage from the Roads Service, a piece of land which had been given to the people of Ballymena circa 1900, which was named at the time “The People’s Park” suddenly became the property of a local, after the roads service named it “Peoples Park”.

    Where will this end?

    On a related point, the former Chief Executive of a large community HSS Trust, used to spend an inordinate amount of his time at work proof reading all of the Trust’s publications to ensure they complied with The Plain Language Campaign’s rules and in the process making sure there weren’t any errant apostophes…and who would have thought the DHSSPS would employ Chief Executives / Proof Readers on 100K a year?

  • abucs

    Nevin, perhaps at a certain age it all looks the same anyway ? :o)

    Unisex toilets would solve all that tricky signage. We could scrap them and save a fortune.

    Say 50 pounds x 200,000 toilets = 10 million pounds !

    Alan, 100K a year for an apostrophe policeman ?
    i knew i should have paid more attention in English class !

  • Green Ink

    “The crash repairs business could not be contacted through any of the numbers displayed on the billboard.” Hahaha! Maybe it’s meant to read “France Crash Repairs” and they got it totally wrong (might explain the “Votre Vitesse 54km/h” above.

    Scrolling sign above car park entrance in Galway:
    “Enter her”
    Bilingual sign in Chinese supermarket advertising a sale:

  • Rory

    I read the following in London once:


    Was it a misplaced apostrophe or a correct usage to signify that this fruitery was owned by the local greengrocer?

    I really enjoy misplacement. It adds to the gaiety of nations and gives the pedants another useful source of annoyance without which their day would not be complete.

    The best example of the misplaced comma that I know is this quotation of the first line of Melville’s Moby Dick:

    Call me, Ishmael

    Ony in the telephonic age….

    In any case it really is a bit much for those who depend on ‘BTW’ and ‘IMO’ and such to point fingers.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    After the defence of the humble apostrpohe comes an attack on CAPS LOCK, the most annoying key on your keyboard.

    End the tyranny of CAPS LOCK and stop commenters SHOUTING ALL THE TIME!