Mighty Red Pen

November 30, 2008

Don’t park your apostrophes in Harvard Yard

A nod to our friends at Ducks and Drakes for directing MRP’s attention to Barbara Wallraff’s blog at The Atlantic, In a Word, for this tidbit from our own backyard:

cambridge-visitor-center1

The picture is taken in the heart of Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass. Wallraff bemoans the apostrophe abuse of Visitor’s Information Center but doesn’t opine on an alternative. Frankly, I’m torn between Visitors’ Information Center and Visitor Information Center. Anyone?

3 Comments »

  1. I think this is an acceptable apostrophe. The visitor in this case can be singular or plural. Both of these make sense when decomposing the possession: “Information Center of Cambridge Visitors,” and “Information Center of the Cambridge Visitor.” Personally, I lean towards the way it is written rather than Visitors’, but plain old Visitor is cleaner.

    Comment by Kevin H — December 3, 2008 @ 2:47 pm | Reply

  2. I agree with Kevin on this one. It’s the same logic that gives us “Mother’s Day” (the Day of the Mother).

    But I suspect that more people would consider “Visitor’s Information Center” to be wrong than right (if they have an opinion at all, that is), and so perhaps an alternative should have been chosen.

    Why not just “Information Center” or even “Information”? “Visitor Information Centre” sounds like it should offer information about visitors rather than for them (although here in the UK, we have “Tourist Information Centres” everywhere).

    Comment by JD — December 8, 2008 @ 4:42 am | Reply

  3. The “Kiwi” system of phonetic spelling (“Ce’we’) has resolved the problem of the apostrophe, making it redundant with its “increased efficiency in the use of s, x, and z..” In Kiwi these letters have utilitarian word-end “s” functions: “-s” is possessive, as in cats y (cat’s eye); “-z” indicates “-is” as in th catz awt (the cat’s out) and “-x” represents plural, as in th catxs ys (the cats eyes).

    A detailed, definitive outline of the Kiwi system is presently being finalized; contact jot@in2net.co.nz for further information.

    Comment by Gordon McShean — January 23, 2012 @ 9:37 pm | Reply


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