Discovered in 2002 by British journalist Ian Mayes, the apostrofly is "an insect which lands at random on the printed page depositing an apostrophe wherever it alights" (Only Correct, Guardian Books, 2005). Not surprisingly, apostroflies are attracted to food:
- "Tomatoe’s Sauce"
(Mens Cookery Club)
- "Potatoe's cutlets"
- "Make Your Own Pizza's"
("Recipe Courtesy of Emeril Lagasse," Food Network)
- "BOSTON LICENSED TAXICAB'S ARE SMOKEFREE"
(sign posted at The Abuse of Apostrophes in Everyday Life)
- "Is Another Depression On its's Way?"
("Housing Bubble Busted")
- "Were 5 Unarmed and Wounded Iraqi's Murdered By U.S. Marines?"
(Information Clearing House)
- "You know your kid's love the delicious chocolate taste . . ."
(a box of Kellogg's Coco Pops, image posted at Sharon's Golden Apostrophe Awards)
- "Welcome to the online store for Your's Truly Jewelry & Boutique!"
(Your's Truly Jewelry & Boutique)
Clearly, no website is off limits to the impudent apostrofly:
- "Menu's for Special Occasions"
A charitable chap, Ian Mayes refuses to believe that human error is responsible for the swarms of needless apostrophes clouding English prose. That would be dyspunctional behavior on an impossibly grand scale.
Others are less forgiving. Fans of Lynne Truss (she who Eats, Shoots & Leaves) favor the expression "greengrocer's apostrophe"--unfairly tagging a single profession in a world of overzealous punctuators.
But crueler still is the sort of verbal abuse--nitwits, half-wits, dimwits--that the Punctuation Police hurl at profligate apostrophizers. Down that mean street we refuse to go.
So we'll continue to swat at apostroflies--those marks, often attached to plural nouns, that serve no other purpose than to rile readers who know how to use apostrophes correctly. Whoops--hold still. Here's another one:
- "Eliminating Apostrophe's from SSIS export to Excel"
And please visit our Guidelines for Using Apostrophes Correctly.
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