Monday, May 03, 2010

The Year of the Apostrophe

This school year is still in session for several more weeks, but already we're getting notices to prepare us for Abby's ascension to Grade 2, like this one pimping complete school supply kits for next fall.

[click to enlarge]

First of all, the sub-literate name Edu-Pac  (unworthy of a school-sponsored enterprise, if you ask me) is inconsistently given the quotation mark treatment. Here, but not there, and in one instance with an opening quotation mark and a drafty breeze where the closing one should go. In that same instance, Pac's is garnished with a superfluous apostrophe. Then there is that sub-heading (cradled by needless quotation marks)--with the awkward frustration shopping wording that invites mis-reading. And we won't even get into the cheesy clip-art design.

But let's take a closer look at that third paragraph:
In addition to the basic package, you may select the individual items your student requires or reuse last years.
Since years are not reusable, we can only assume they mean the items from last year, or last year's items. That makes it a possessive and that means now is the time to bring that apostrophe into service.

That may not be a particularly interesting error--or even the worst one on that flyer--but it stood out for me because just this morning I saw a similar slip-up, but in reverse. In recounting the stunning victory by the local hockey heroes in Game 1 of the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Province reporter Jason Botchford enthused:
This isn't the dump-and-chase Canucks of season's past.
So true*. But here, seasons past is just a poetic way of saying past seasons. No apostrophes need apply.

*And as someone who finds the dump-and-chase strategy to be the most vulgar abomination in hockey--a caveman approach that negates the displays of speed and finesse that make the sport great--and who is known to become apoplectic when his team does it on the power play (!)--I can only say, Hallelujah.