Words are my business. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I pay more attention to them than most people. I must ensure that whatever I write contains no grammatical errors, is spelled properly and correctly conveys the meaning I intended.
This is particularly true for pieces of work like this one. If an error escapes the notice of my editor, it will be displayed for all to see.
Though I am more interested in the correctness of the writing of others, it doesn’t mean I am a “grammar granny” on the lookout for errors in usage.
In fact, I’ve become a lot more flexible than I once was. I no longer want to argue the case that “hopefully” is an adverb and that saying “Hopefully, the dog went home,” actually means the dog went home with a hopeful look on its face. I have also completely given up on pointing out that “begs the question” does not mean “poses the question,” but instead means using as proof the very thing you are setting out to prove.
Hearing someone say, “I seen him do it,” or “I would have went,” will always make me cringe.
But, in the end, language is about conveying meaning and if the listener or reader arrives at the correct meaning in spite of errors in usage, then so be it.
All that being said, there are still examples of writing that stop me dead in my tracks and make me wonder what the writer intended to say. I see one such example every day. Outside one of Edmonton’s downtown office towers that has stores on its main floor there are banners that say, “The shop’s @.” For the life of me I cannot and have not been able to figure out what this statement is supposed to mean.
Without the apostrophe, I could take it to mean that the banner was pointing out the entrance to the shops in the building. That would at least make sense.
However, maybe it is meant to say, “The shop is at.” But what shop is it referring to? The idea that the apostrophe is meant to show possession is completely beyond my comprehension.
We pride ourselves on being a creative city. I often think about how many visitors have looked up at that banner and wondered if they were seeing artistic licence or just sloppy writing.