Last night I writhed in agony while watching the 11 o’clock news. The local NBC affiliate was running a story about the Sacramento disc jockeys that were fired recently. (The radio personalities had sponsored a contest which led to the death of a woman.) Behind the anchorman the screen displayed DJ’s Fired. I’m sure that employees at my office are sick of hearing me say, “An apostrophe is never used to indicate a plural.” How can NBC not have someone to check what’s going to be printed in big block letters on screen? Why, NBC? Why?

“The ‘plural apostrophe’ (e.g. no dog’s allowed, sofa’s for sale) is running rampant these days, and it’s not just my imagination. It’s so wrong that I can’t even begin to fathom how anyone could make such a mistake. I hate it when people dismiss it with, ‘Oh, not everyone’s a grammar freak.’

Grammar? You think it’s an issue of grammar? I hate to break it to you, but if you can’t spell ‘dogs’, you’re illiterate.”

originally posted February 27th, 2003

There are 3 comments on this post

  1. This is actually less brain-dead that a lot of plural apostrophization. Many Style Authorities maintain that the plurals of letters digits, punctuation symbols, and abbreviations with periods should be written with apostrophes, e.g.

    AAAAA: A’s
    11111: 1’s
    &&&&&: &’s

    M.D., M.D.: M.D.’s

    However, I doubt that “DJ’s” was the result of an argument about style and punctuation: like so many others, they just believe that the purpose of an apostrophe is to warn the reader of an upcoming S: it’s a typographical slippery-when-wet sign.

    See also:

  2. I’m tired of seeing prices like:
    when they mean
    $.33 or 33¢

    Also, speaking of the news, exactly when did we switch en masse from “plead” (pronounced “pled”) to pleaded?

  3. Here in NW GA you can hear the major metro ATL TV anchors talk about how a pipe “busted” instead of burst, etc. You would imagine from a population base of 4 million they could find someone with more than a room temperature IQ to read the news.

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