Grammar Wednesday

Beanie participates in an after-school program on Tuesdays. The school sponsors a bunch of “enrichment” classes – build-to-learn, young scientists, fiber crafts, pottery painting, that sort of thing.

Last week, I went to pick her up and passed this sign in front of the reading paraprofessionals’ office:

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I went to Beanie’s classroom, found a BRIGHT FUSCHIA!! sticky note, wrote “this apostrophe is wrong!”, and stuck the note to the sign. There was NO way the teachers (let me be more specific here – the READING teachers) could have missed this note.

I came to the school to pick my bean up from enrichment yesterday and guess what I saw? That’s right; the same sign with the same incorrect apostrophe. I’m trying to remember whether “room” was on the sign when I put the sticky on it, and I wonder if they think that the addition of that noun makes the apostrophe correct.

Sigh

Sometimes, I wish I just didn’t see.

** Just as an aside** I brought Beanie to this post as I was writing it and asked her to explain what I was so upset about. She said, and I’m pretty much direct quoting here, that “the apostrophe is wrong because there are two paras.”

“Okay,” I said, “but what about the word ‘room’ there? Does that make the apostrophe right?”

“Nope,” she said. “there are still two paras – the apostrophe needs to go on the outside of the s. Want me to tell them the next time I see them?”

Yes. Yes, I do.

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9 Comments

Filed under General Griping, Grammar, out in the real world, Yikes!

9 responses to “Grammar Wednesday

  1. Anonymous

    Dear Mrs. Chili,

    I am 42 years old and taking classes for a degree in my chosen field of work. I do not beleive I was ever taught the rules of grammar the way I am learning them in the class I am taking. Just wanted to know have the rules changed over the years or is it the way people talk nowadays?

  2. Well, Anonymous, there’s a long and complex and not really comprehensive answer to your question, and it all depends on who you ask.

    Since you’re asking me (and recognize that I’m only answering for myself – I don’t claim to speak for anyone else), I’ll tell you this; language is a living, growing, changing thing. The rules that applied to us in grammar school aren’t necessarily the same those that applied to our grandparents, and aren’t necessarily the same as those that apply to our children.

    Grammar can be viewed in two ways that I’m aware of; prescriptive and descriptive. People who are considered prescriptive (and, if you ask some of my linguist friends, they’d say that my Grammar Wednesday feature is evidence enough to put me in the prescriptive camp) generally tend to look at grammar through the lens of long-established “rules.” Prescriptivists can point to something and say it’s “wrong” because they can find an entry in a style guide that tells them so (never begin a sentence with a coordinating conjunction, for example), or because a particular grammatical structure is non-standard by common use and collective agreement (people are generally corrected when they say “brung” when they mean “brought,” that sort of thing).

    Descriptive grammarians, as I understand them (though I do think that my own personal philosophy straddles the two camps), look at grammar through the lens of common usage. If enough people do it / say it / use it, it becomes grammatical. The inclusion of new words into the language is descriptive in nature; our grandparents never had “blog” on a spelling test. The media, too, bends rules that become more and more generally acceptable – most of us hardly notice sentence fragments in advertisements anymore.

    I generally dislike the focused teaching of grammar; I prefer to teach it within the setting of teaching writing or literature, though I can see an argument for grammar classes. In this world of text messaging and instant communication, I really believe that our ability to speak and write eloquently and professionally is being lost.

  3. Maybe one Para is trying to get rid of the other and assumes “other” is the person who put the sticky note on their poster. Maybe Para 1 thought “sheesh, take a hint Para 2 and get out of my space!”

  4. mrs. chili and her progeny: changing the world, one apostrophe at a time.

  5. fermat

    Correction Mrs. Chili: It depends on “whom” you ask.

    I see the misused apostrope everywhere, especially on “professional” signs. My favourite is from a beauty salon which has a sign stating “walk in’s welcome.” No hyphen and the misuse of an apostrophe. Sigh and sigh.

  6. Fermat, you are absolutely correct! Who and whom are words I still stumble on, and I only know I’m using them correctly when I really stop to think about it. I stand humbly corrected.

    I’m REALLY disappointed that I won’t be able to pick Bean up from school on Tuesday (I’ll be in outpatient surgery at the time, so Dad’s going to get her). It’ll be interesting to see if the sign is still there and if the sign is still wrong. I may send Mr. Chili in with a note to stick to the sign if it’s still wrong, gently explaining to the READING TEACHERS why their apostrophe needs to be moved to the other side of the s. Sigh, indeed!

  7. Mary

    That is pretty sad.

  8. First of all, I think it is TOTALLY fierce that you left a post-it note on the sign.

    My favorite apostrophe catastrophe was a sign at the gym that said:

    “Workout dos and don’ts”

    So one day I borrowed a pen from the front desk and drew in the additional apostrophes. Not quite as ballsy as you, but I’ll get there.

  9. Pingback: Grammar Wednesday « A Teacher’s Education

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