Off topic but seen everywhere, a little story about the apostrophe

Posted on: September 2nd, 2011

You’ve recently seen this Sobeys ad everywhere.

Sobeys

We suppose any promotional material has been proofed by a myriad of eyes before going to press… But guess what? That’s a bad use of the apostrophe, but displayed everywhere across Canada! Ouch!
It should read “Savings on 1000s of items!” instead.
There are only a few cases in which it is acceptable to use an apostrophe to form a plural, purely for the sake of clarity, as mentioned in the Oxford dictionary. For example it might be acceptable to write “Find all the number 7’s“, but one would prefer “Find all the number 7s” nevertheless.

It’s so confusing that the original Tim Horton’s franchise (name of the famous hockey player) changed its name a decade ago to Tim Hortons. One might think it’s mainly  to avoid any further confusion. Well not exactly, this one is another story. It appears it was to comply with Québec French laws, back in 1993, and to provide common signage across Canada.
Where this story collides with history; knowing the apostrophe was introduced into English in the sixteenth century in imitation of French practice!!

Further entertaining reading on apostrophe issues, and misuses can be found on this website called “Apostrophe Catastrophes“.

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