Jeremy Clarkson can be easily riled, and he often comes across as arrogant and opinionated, so while I usually disagree with him and his attempts to turn cars into boats and spacecraft and otherwise waste my TV license fee, I will have to admit that I agree with him about one thing…
“When I see a sign advertising CD’s and DVD’s, I become so angry that my teeth start to fall out” – Jeremy Clarkson as quoted in today’s Metro
I think my primary purpose in life is to tell errant youths to pick up their litter and put it in a bin, and my secondary purpose is to correct signs in toilets with poor grammar. So, if you don’t happen to frequent the same establishments, let’s sum it up:
If something belongs to something else, then you can use an apostrophe.
If a word is a contraction of two words, then you can use an apostrophe.
Otherwise, don’t use an apostrophe!
However, while some people put apostrophes everywhere, others, like councils in Devon, eliminate them completely! The street should be “Baker’s View”, not “Bakers View” because it was the view Mr Baker’s land, not a view of a bunch of bakers at the bottom of a hill. Also, the current BBC drama “Prisoners’ Wives” is correctly listed as such on the iPlayer, but when you watch the opening credits, the apostrophe has disappeared! Tsk tsk.
Translators whose native language is not English are almost always excellent grammarians and do a fabulous job of spotting errant apostrophes (and other mistakes) in English texts. Perhaps we can hire translators to teach English in our schools…
So, bravo Jeremy! Thanks for carrying the torch.