I have it on good authority that Shakespearian experts have discovered a previously unknown snippet deleted from William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet.
Apparently the bard originally had Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, sitting at a table with a blank sheet of drawing paper and a range of drawing pencils in front of him.
Hamlet, looking at the pencils, scratches his head and says: “2B or not 2B, that is the question.”
If anything gets my family riled up, it has to be the misuse of the humble apostrophe.
My daughter, an English teacher, calls herself “The Apostrophe Nazi”. She delights in correcting errors wherever and whenever. My son even uses an apostrophe to abbreviate his name – Simon has become Sim’. It also annoys me when I see this poorly understood form of punctuation abused.
Imagine my horror, then, in reading this sentence in an email from a bookshop recently:
“Xxxx Booksellers would like to thank its’ regular and new clients for their support.”
That is a shocker!
I should be fair though; the humble apostrophe is probably the most misunderstood and misused form of punctuation in our language. Furthermore, the meaning of the sentence is still quite clear, so I’ll just let it rest. I make mistakes too – plenty of them.
- Use apostrophes correctly – an amusing article with many comments from my family.
- Writing hints – a list of writing hints from my archives.
- Apostrophes – the Wikipedia article on how to use them correctly.
They’re everywhere in town.
Chocolatety and brown.
How I love to munch –
For breakfast, tea and lunch!
I have a simple plea –
Give them ALL to ME!
© 2008 Trevor W. Hampel
All rights reserved.
Updated April 5th 2016.
Sometimes I come across the name of a person that is strangely appropriate to their occupation. In today’s local paper I was amused to read a letter to the editor from a Dr. Pain. I’m not sure I would like to consult him, especially if he turned out to be a dentist.
Some years ago in another life when I was teaching in a large country town in South Australia three of the local schools had cleaners with most appropriate surnames: a Mrs. Grimes, a Mrs. Brushnahan and a Mrs. McLean. At the same time the person overseeing the driver education programme in secondary schools of this state was a Mr. Driver.
Many years ago my wife needed an urgent tetanus injection, something that caused a little consternation on her part until she saw the nurse’s name tag: Nurse Panic. Her laughter eased the pain. A friend of mine also tells about a relative with delight: an instance of a Bishop marrying a Priest.
The Birthday Gift
The small group of family and friends gathered around the table. The glow of the candles lit my face. One puff and they were out, to the cheers of everyone in the room. The flash of my daughter’s camera momentarily blinded me.
‘Happy Birthday!’ they all shouted and they launched into a shaky rendition of the traditional song.
‘C’mon, time to open your gifts.’
I took the first present. I knew it was from my wife. It had sat taunting me for days on one end of the coffee table. I ripped open the beautiful wrapping paper. I think my next expression said it all. It was not the birthday present I was expecting.
I had been giving solid hints for weeks about the latest best-selling novel I wanted to read. The wrapped up parcel looked exactly right. Surely she had heard my heavy hinting?
My gaping mouth said it all. This was most unexpected, and a little embarrassing. As I showed the title to all in the room, I heard a few gasps.
An Illustrated Guide to Pig Farming boasted the cover.
Totally bemused I flipped through a few pages. My puzzled look intensified. There seemed to be something wrong; no illustrations. I thumbed back to the title page. Now I understood. She had tricked me.
‘Thank you darling,’ I said as I kissed her cheek. She’d bought me the novel after all. ‘Nice trick to put on a false cover.’
All rights reserved.
Copyright 2007 Trevor W. Hampel.