Links and visuals illustrating an orthographic pet peeve.
An ad for Breathe Right strips in the DC Metro.
Posted in Uncategorized.
Tagged with advertisement, Breathe Right strips, DC Metro, Zs.
By Readers Like You
– September 30, 2010
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This is (sadly) becoming an accepted use in most style guides. Once upon a time, apostrophes in the plurals of single letters were accepted only to avoid confusion (e.g. to distinguish i’s from is or a’s from as), but now many style guides have extended the idea to all plurals of single letters.
Yeah, for lowercase ones. Even my trusty CMS says that. But for uppercase, they still hold out with no apostrophe. So this sign is abuse!
Ah, but this is fine with the Associated Press Stylebook among others. As a matter of personal preference, I wouldn’t call it abuse. There are plenty of examples of obvious abuse.
I really like your website, and am all for educating people about the proper use of apostrophes, but I think you’ll find the rules aren’t quite as set in stone as some of your correspondents seem to think
I teach English as a foreign language and my bible (and I think also of many TEFL teachers) is Practical English Usage by Michael Swan. Swan is quite relaxed about this use with capitals, giving the alternatives of CDs or CD’s. Language watcher David Crystal says that “the 19th-century printers (who tried to establish the possessive apostrophe rule) recognised that there were exceptions … she has three MA’s, … he hit three 6′s, … in the 1990′s. There is a tendency today to omit the apostrophe in some of these cases, but the alternative usage is still widely encountered.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2007/jul/12/punctuationisnoplaceforze).
But Crystal and Swan are of course descriptive, not not prescriptive, grammarians.
What I love about the English language is precisely the fact that we have no Academy setting rules, no Higher Authority telling us what we must do. Our language develops organically, and is all the stronger for it.
What J.D. said. It’s gone from only potentially confusing lower-case letters to all lower-case letters to all single letters, whether lower- or upper-case.
And perhaps it’s a pun. Given the giant Z’s on the graphic and the literal stuffing of the stuffy nose in between, perhaps it was an editor with a sense of humor.
Z’s what? Ooh, how about Z’s ice cream.
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