Behold the Lowly Apostrophe

    Going back through some of my files lately (a process I seem to lurch through in the early part of each year as I vow to “declutter” more and more of my ample hoard of “stuff”), I came across an E-mail to Sarah Vanderclute, who served on the “Community Advisory Board” of the Observer with me).  Sarah had just accepted a position as the spokesperson for Cumberland County government when I wrote this June 12, 2004, message:

“I much enjoyed your essay in yesterday’s paper for several reasons, of which I will mention only two.  Your mentioning of Lynne Truss’s ‘Eats, Shoots, & Leaves’ only made me wish more avidly that my order for it from (along with Tapper’s ‘Guy Goes Into a Bar’) will soon arrive.  It [Truss’s book] remains at # 2 on the ‘New York Times’ best seller list for non-fiction, an amazing fact in itself. . . .

“My ‘Usage’ file does have a number of items related to the use of the apostrophe, which Truss (and others, not including me totally) consider a punctuation mark.  I do recall that sometime in the early 1980s I took a call from the manager of J.C. Penney’s in Lumberton.  He was curious as to how to properly spell Boys Jeans for a sales ad.  So that took us into some conversation about when,  and when not, to use the apostrophe.”

Now, Faithful Blog Readers and Eager Learners, what would you have recommended to that store manager?


I am posting again, post haste, this time on the uses and abuses of the lowly comma. . . .  Check it out.


One Response to “Behold the Lowly Apostrophe”

  1. Jessie McNeill Says:

    I am so glad the manager at J.C.Penny’s store did ask. I have often seen ads and wanted to circle it with green ink.

    I would have advised the manager to put the Boys’ Jeans on sale.

    Dr. Rundus, I trust you, what did you advise?

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