Sunday, April 29, 2007

apostrophe misuse

In France, in order to make words look more anglo-saxon, there is the habit of sticking an apostrophe and an 's' at the end of words. A shop selling English furniture is thus called 'Interior's'.

I would like to inform my French readers, however, that the situation is not better, perhaps even worse, back home in England. Which is even more pathetic, given that in a country where English is the native language, a large proportion of the population has absolutely no idea when and how to use the apostrophe.

's is known as the anglo-saxon genitive and is used to denote possession - the 's goes at the end of the possessor, not the possessed:

The manager's car = the car that belongs to the manager

When a word is already a plural, you put just an apostrophe after the final s, without adding a second s:

the managers' cars = the cars that belong to the managers

There are even websites that try to combat the misuse of the apostrophe. Take a look at the following for example:

There are some exceptions to the apostrophe rule, however. These would be in situations where adding an 's' to make a plural would be confusing. For example, we often talk about a list of do's and don'ts(a list of things to do and not to do).
If we simply added an 's' to 'do' to make it a plural you would get 'dos' which looks like an incorrect spelling of the third person, 'does' or the abbreviation of 'disk operating system'.
Also, initials can take an apostrophe in order to avoid making the plural 's' look like one of the intials. For example, it would be OK to write the plural of CD, CD's. If there were no apostrophe, it would look like three initials, CDS.

I don't know if my exceptions here are officially recognised, so if you strongly disagree, let me know!

T-shirt talk

If you walk down mainstreet in any French town, just about every other person you pass will be wearing a t-shirt with a slogan in English on it. Most of the wearers are oblivious to the fact that the message they are sharing with the world is either nonsense, full of mistakes or downright obscene.

One girl I saw recently had a top that read, 'young hot mistress for erotic massage' followed by a telephone number. There's no excuse for not knowing what it meant, for 'erotic' and 'massage' are both words that exist in French. It seems that the fact it was written in English makes it acceptable, even though the slogan is in effect really saying 'I'm a prostitute'.

I mention this because it reminds of the time back in the eighties when everyone was wearing t-shirts with Japanese writing on them. I shudder to think now what I might have been broadcasting to anyone who could understand Japanese. Perhaps a Japanese person could read on my t-shirt, 'stay away from this jerk, he's a complete loser' or worse!

After seeing the stupid slogans in english that people wear in France, I will always think twice before buying a T-shirt with anything written in a language I don't understand

Why I've become a YouTuber

If you are a regular visitor to my site,, you will have noticed that I have started making videos and uploading them on to Youtube is just fantastic for learning English, you can watch video blogs in order to hear all kinds of English accents, you can listen to your favourite songs in English and learn so much about what's going on in popular culture, and now you can even watch me as I try to answer questions that have been sent in by you, my dear readers.

I use Youtube because it's free! I would have to upgrade my site if I wanted to put all that video on it, and that would be expensive. Also, I haven't got a clue about how to put video on a web page, so I use youtube's technology. All I need to do is make a video with my webcam, upload it to youtube and then paste the link code into my site.

Anyway, I hope you like the videos, some of them are admittedly pretty boring, but it's probably better that you can watch and listen as well as read.