Thursday, December 13, 2007

"The" Grammar Error, and other thoughts from the Parallel Universe

As a grammar and punctuation nut, ubiquitous errors keep me in a constant state of disgruntlement. Those apostrophes that appear in the wrong place are perhaps the most frequent offenders. We got a lovely holiday card from someone dear to us...whose reputation slipped a notch when she addressed the envelope to "The Smiths'." You're chuckling because you know darn well our name isn't Smith, but for purposes of illustration, it will do. The sign above, btw, was found by googling "apostrophe error."

Another pet peeve that has increasingly proved an irritant is the unnecessary
"the." Today I made another masochistic foray into the parallel universe--the New York Times Style Section--and found a full-page color ad for Gap (which, ironically, used to be called The Gap) in which each of its featured items was preceded by "the." The ad showed "The Womens Cable Booties" (aren't we missing an apostrophe here?) for $24.50, "The Mens Lambswool Glove," for $19.50, "The BabyGap Crazy Stripe Mittens, Scarf & Hat," ($12.50-$16.50) and "The Womens Sweater Hoodie" ($49.50). Its final offering was "Gap Eau de Toilette Spray" ($28.00) which was inserted just to be contrary. Does anyone remember when this retailer's slogan was "Fall in-to The Gap?" The bass voice hitting those descending notes would sound far less coherent were he to sing, "Fall in-to Gap." But we digress.

In the same issue of the Parallel Universe was an article, "Still Life with Hedge Funds" by the ever-wry
Guy Trebay, that was heavy with names dropped at Art Basel Miami Beach, an "I can afford it, too" social boast-fest ostensibly for collectors, artists, dealers and the middlemen who get rich off them. Pictured (above) were two 50s-ish gentlemen; the caption read, "Making the Scene. Steven A. Cohen, left, the art collector, with Larry Gagosian, the gallery owner. Below," (a second photo, a woman in a bar with a provocative Compari ad) Eva Mendes, the actress." Obviously, we needed definitive articles to prevent confusion with Steven A. Cohen, the accountant, Larry Gagosian, the periodontist, and Eva Mendes, the librarian.

I planned to mention only the "the" there, with apologies to Gertrude Stein, but two other articles floating in the parallel universe (this time apologies to you) require comment. A piece on buying "green" clothes ("A World Consumed by Guilt") shows how PC Al Gore, in all his self-parody, has become. And another, on the availability of knock-off Goyard bags ("Carried Away with Imitation Luxury"), recalls a Canal Street shopping adventure with my daughter that taught me two things: Designer names open doors in walls, and the obsession with those same names is a ridiculous waste of time.

Crusading against errant apostrophes, however, is a lofty pursuit.


  1. Oh, so THAT'S where she got it from... ;)

    Personally, I agree... but it is misplaced commas that bother me the most. Argh!

  2. You should be The Northern Light, since you are the brightest....