Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Engineer by Day, Grammar Vigilante by Night

Many people cringe when errors of punctuation or grammar are proudly displayed on storefront signs and in advertisements out in public. Shouldn’t an editor have caught that?, they think. These aren’t the kinds of errors we saw in the last EIU Writes blog post about the Oxford comma. These errors include pluralizing Friday as “Friday’s” or advertising “Herbert’s Potatoes” as “Herberts Potatoes,” examples of apostrophe use that are considered “wrong” in Standard English grammar.

Under the cover of night, a grammar aficionado from Bristol, England has occupied his nights for the last ten years by fixing glaring errors on store signs and advertisements. Some of the more conspicuous errors include “Amy’s Nail’s” and “Vicenzo and Son Gentlemens Hairstylists.” He scratches out apostrophes where they don’t belong and uses what he calls an “apostrophiser” to add stickers where they should be. It seems apostrophes are his specialty.

“Victims” of the grammar vigilante’s work don’t seem to mind, according to the BBC. They’re glad someone has taken the time to correct their mistakes.

When interviewed about the vandalism, the masked crusader responded, “It’s a worse crime to have all these errant apostrophes on shops and garages. I just think it’s going to teach the youth of tomorrow the wrong grammar.”

Legal issues aside, this man is the hero of people concerned about spread of bad punctuation practices, doing as much as he can during his free time (when he’s not off being an engineer or spending time with his family). He tries to be considerate by not crossing them out with red paint/stickers. He doesn’t seem to have a vendetta against these shop owners, just a strong value for correctness.

So be warned; if you ever set up shop in his neighborhood, make sure your signs have impeccable grammar and punctuation, lest you be visited by the apostrophe vigilante.

As always, if you need help or want a second set of eyes to look over your writing before you make it public, feel free to stop by the EIU Writing Center at Coleman 3110 or make an appointment by calling (217) 581-5929.

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