Saturday 15 January 2011

Strange Apostrophes

I picked up a flier today for the Storytellers' Club. It advertises:

Stories by comedians 'round a faux log fire.

On the back of the flier is a review from The Independent saying that they were "Unashamedly literate". I therefore can't help but wonder what that apostrophe is doing before the word round. I mean, really, do they think that round is a shortening of around? It's enough to make you 'cross.

The habit, though, is surprisingly common. I once saw an advertisement for an exhibition at the British Museum that was continuing 'til April.

So let's be very clear: round is not a shortening of around, to is not a shortening of unto and till is not a shortening of until. If you want to argue it historically (and I suspect you do), till has been around since 800, until didn't crop up ti'll 1200.

There's something shuddersome about errors such as these. To be lazy is no disgrace, indeed it's rather charming. But to pin vain apostrophes on innocent words suggests such smugness, such deluded superiority, such busy-bodied meddling that it makes you squirm.

It's worse than adding an apostrophe to [omni]bus, or [tele]phone, or [news]papers: worse because it has the same level of pedantry, but without any knowledge.

I haven't been able to look at the British Museum the same way 'since.

Not enough 'books

N.B. It is the policy of the Inky Fool never to criticise what's known as the Grocer's A'postrophe, on the basis that I've no idea how to run a shop. It is only those who really should, or claim to, know better who come in for stick.


  1. Is shuddersome a real word? I love it.

  2. I shared this post on Google reader, and it has engendered more controversy and griping than even my most partisan political articles.

  3. Fran, I thought I'd made it up, but the OED says that it's been around since 1893.

    Elizabeth, Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.

  4. Jerry van Kooten17 January 2011 at 09:48

    This cannot go without a reference to

  5. The best N.B. thus far, Inky!

    I may not be able to cut hair well (not that lack of skill has ever stopped me) but I do know that the Old Swan salon BOY'S 'N' CURL'S is an abomination.