BY J E SOLOMON

This is certainly not right.  It’s a big mistake and it has come to be accepted.  I’m neither a guardian of the Queen’s English Language, nor an authority in English Language.  Regardless, I can tell if a simple grammar usage or punctuation is wrong.

Over the past year, I’ve been concerned with the reckless butchering of the apostrophe in the use of the Queen’s English.  It’s what purists in Britain referred to as the “Catastrophe for the Apostrophe” over five years ago when Birmingham, England’s second-largest city decided to drop apostrophes from its street signs.  So ST PAUL’S PARK became ST PAULS PARK.

That was for street signs, but when the omission of the apostrophe becomes the order for Standard English Writing among media correspondents, even teachers and computer software systems that surprisingly would change correct writing for the wrong writing, then I refuse to be part of it.  Happily, though, I don’t see these mistakes in publications by reputable publishers who take pride in maintaining the highest standards.  No publisher worth their salt and desiring to maintain the highest reputation will use MENS WEAR instead of MEN’S WEAR or, BOYS ROOM instead of BOY’S ROOM.

The contraction for “IT IS” that should be “IT’S” (a subject and a contracted verb) are now frequently written as “ITS”, instead of “IT’S”.  And my Dell laptop and Samsung smart phone will underline the contraction “IT’S” and rather suggest “ITS” when I don’t intend to use it as pronoun.  Mac computers are equally guilty.  I used an iPad that did the same annoying thing with “ITS” and some other contractions. The two (IT’S and ITS) are completely different in their parts of speech.  So how did we get to this point where computer software systems now change correct writings and substitute them with the WRONG ones?

Also, “THEY’RE” has now pathetically transformed into “THEIR”.  And some people don’t seem to know the difference between THERE’RE, THEY’RE and THEIR.  Another victim of the crucifixion of the apostrophe is YOU’RE.  This has also been corrupted to “YOUR”.  How?  And there’s “WHO’S” (WHO IS) that some people are mistakenly using for “WHOSE”.

I know my cousin Thommy will be saying, “Is that what you worry about?” Well, we all have our worries and concerns.  The Pope has his worries and concerns.  Obama has his worries and concerns.  Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey and the Brazilian soccer coach all have their worries and concerns. This is my concern. Yes, and it bothers me, because it’s not correct usage and it’s not helping students of the English Language.

I’m equally vulnerable to grammatical mistakes that could arise from slipshod writing and perhaps because I’ve become rusty having said goodbye to my original career for so long.  As the saying goes, “You either use it or lose it.”  So I may also be guilty in some way sometimes.  After all, even Homer nods.  I said earlier that I’m not an authority over the English Language.  I had to learn the Queen’s English at kindergarten and primary school willy-nilly, like any child in my native home before entering High School.

Those days, you get caned or punished for every grammatical as well as spelling mistake you made.  Even, poor handwriting attracted punishment.  The result was that some pupils (boys especially) became “koborloi” who considered skipping school regularly as a normal way of school life. You could lose points from the maximum score if you failed to cross your “t” or dot your “i” and also if you forgot to indent a paragraph.

Some people think they can begin a sentence or a proper noun by writing the small letter “a” much bigger than the other lower case letters that follow when the sentence or word starts with the letter “A”.  No, a small letter is a small letter.  It doesn’t matter how big one writes it.  Interestingly, in the part of America where I’ve been, it’s not uncommon to see people mix capital letters and small letters in just one single word.  You’ll see writings like these, “RoBeRt”, “aMeRica”.  The rule doesn’t seem to apply and I was shocked to see some college professors guilty of this kind of mistake.  It’s like, hey, anything goes, as long as the sentence makes sense.

But when all is said and considered, I personally don’t think the confusion with contractions should be ignored.  I’ll never write ITS for IT’S, YOUR for YOU’RE, or THEIR for THEY’RE or whatever.  The auto-correct computer software systems are obviously the products of some folks who didn’t know the correct usage of the Queen’s English.  As such, I will not surrender to their unforgivable mistakes and assume the errors are acceptable.  No way! This really is a catastrophe for the apostrophe!!

 

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