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Bonkers Blog January 2013

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12 January (Part 1) - Eats, Shoots and Leaves

Apostrophe abuseI confess to being a pedant when it comes to apostrophes. I think I know the rules but errors are not always noticed so I welcome the feedback that comes from two readers in particular who are fellow apostrophe pedants. Yesterday a third source made such a comment - anonymously unfortunately.

His (?) complete unedited message read, “There should not be an apostrophe in ‘its collateral damage’” and I immediately took a look at the offending passage.

(Hang on a mo’, there is a reason for this madness.)

My conclusion was that judging the possibly hurt feelings of a parking adjudicator to be collateral damage and writing “He put himself in the firing line and it is collateral damage” requires an apostrophe. The ‘it is’ is abbreviated so it must become it’s. But then I looked again.

If ‘collateral damage’ is regarded as the consequence of being in the ‘firing line’ the former in effect becomes the possessive of the latter and the apostrophe is redundant. Maybe I should join the Apostrophe Abolition Society - there’s bound to be one - after all. I might have taken the original apostrophe out but then the last few paragraphs would not make any sense, so the apostrophe has to remain. Sorry Mr(s). Anon.

Some readers will be wondering why I am wittering on about grammatical trivia this morning; well the main reason is to upset another anonymous commentator. I seem to have acquired a stalker who complains whenever I wander off in a direction that he/she considers to be off topic. The real topic in his view - and mine - being Bexley’s rotten council.

I wish such people with a valid point to make would have the courage to provide a Reply address and allow a sensible exchange of views. In the circumstances I can only offer a public explanation and a polite reminder that no one is compelled to visit this website. I am amazed, humbled and grateful that so many choose to do so, but no one has to do it and the majority of Bexley residents don’t. Bexley’s dishonest council rules because apathy does.

Please forgive the rambling introduction, the aforesaid explanation will come before too long.

Eats, Shoots and Leaves. © Lynne Truss.


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