Decorative “Quotation Marks”

Yeah, the apostrophe thing (where people use apostrophes in inappropriate situations like “apple’s” and “video’s”) annoys me no end as well.

A related pet peeve of mine is signs in stores (and text on websites) which feature certain words enclosed within decorative quotation marks which have no grammatical reason for being there. Like, for example, when stores put quotation marks around the words “on sale”. Are they trying to be ironic?

I blame the fine folks at Ma Bell for this ugly trend. If you look back at old telephone directories, you’ll see that Yellow Pages ads offered certain boilerplate text options such as “for information call” or “your nearest location”. These were always printed in italics and quotation marks above the phone numbers. And there was never any reason for it to be so.

So next time you go to the corner store, and they have the word “apples” in quotation marks above a display, you might (just for fun) ask the clerk what they REALLY are.

While I’m at it, I may as well take on another one which has been nagging at me for years. This one is mostly a southern thing: people who think that, just because the word “license” ends in an “s” sound, it must therefore be a plural word.

I never really noticed this, until (surprise) I got my driver’s license at age 16. That day, one of my aunts called and asked “did you get ’em?”

Baffled, I asked “get what?”

She answered “your license.”

I choked back the urge to answer that, yes, I’d gotten several, all in different names and colors, and that this acquisition would prove very useful, what with my plan for a life of crime and all.

At the time, I looked on it as her own personal peculiarity. But as the years went on, I realized that about a third of all the people I met in North Carolina had somehow gone through life thinking a license was a “them” rather than an “it”.

Just had to get that off my chest and today seemed like the day.