13 responses to “From Porter to Davis

  1. You are my hero.

    I think I would say owner’s.

  2. I also think it should be owner’s expense. If it was owners’, wouldn’t it have to be expenses, since the owners of the cars would not be paying one collective expense? Hmm…

  3. Hi Grammar Vandal – found your blog thanks to the recent Globe article. Bet you got quite the spike in page views!

    Re the last point, I might be inclined towards “owners’,” as you have it, since the phrase specifies plural trespasses. It’s definitely a tricky situation, but either way, the sign is much improved by your edits 🙂

  4. If I ran a large publication, I’d hire you as a copyeditor just so that I could fire you for being so self-righteous. Honestly, is this the most meaningful war you can find to fight? Poverty? Drugs? AIDS? Athlete’s foot?

    I’m hard at work on a sign containing so many errors that if you even try to correct it, your head will explode. Errors will be piled upon errors in the most amazing display of error terror in the history of the universe. I blew up half of Oklahoma just trying to isolate this one misplaced apostrophe. If God cared about spelling and grammar, He’d take one look at this sign and blink existence out of existence.

  5. “Owner’s” versus “Owners'” is debatable; I’d rather see it say “Trespassers towed at own expense,” since they already identified the trespasser. I also find fault in “Tow-zone,” unless it’s meant to modify “private way.” I’m more inclined to think it’s two separate statements. “Tow-away zone” would be more appropriate.

  6. I think you’re great. I’ve been doing what you do for years. I work as a proofreader in Quincy, where there’s a hilarious sign on the Veteran’s Memorial Stadium on Hancock Street — actually four of them. Four expensive looking metal signs that read “Welcome to Veteran’s Memorial Stadium. Alcoholic Berverages Prohibited.” Berverages! It blows my mind that nobody checks these things. I stuck post-it notes on them a few months back (they were up for a few days, then someone peeled them off), pointing at the typo with comments like “Ha Ha!”, “Holy Toledo!” and “You Dummies!” I’m pretty sure the signs are still up; check them out if you get the chance.

  7. Dennis Fischman

    We have new urinals in the men’s room at work in Union Square, Somerville. These gleaming white wall units take care of your business without using any water: a marvel of modern chemistry. What’s more, they’re “hygenic”–or so the sign above each one informs us. You can take my word for it, Kate, or I can try to sneak you in. Your choice!

  8. I went back and forth on this for a while and consulted a fellow Grammar Stickler, and our consensus was “owner’s.”

  9. Kate,

    GREAT press for you in the Globe.

    It’s hopeless, of course; you’ll never prevail against the heathen (or ‘heath hen’), but keep it up.

    I’m teaching a seminar in Atlanta right now. The facility has a video screen saying, among other things, “Rest Rooms are Located Through Out the Hallway’s”.

    …I wish I was kidding.

  10. I’m just like you – I see signs like that and notice the incorrect spelling and punctuation. My favorite is when they put quotes around “please” — as if they’re quoting the guy in the back, or they don’t really mean please, or something.

    Unlike you, I’ve got over it. I know what they meant and there’s too much else to worry about. (Preposition at sentence end was intentional.)

  11. About the sign that advertises “SIX PAKS”:

    Perhaps you are overhasty in ruling this a misspelling. How do you know that the establishment in question does not employ a half-dozen Pakistanis?

  12. My take seems to differ from some of the others. The sentence in question reads “Trespassers towed at owners expense.” Since trespassers is plural, owners should be, too. Hence, owners’ it is. You got it right, Kate.

    Loved the NPR interview. It could have been longer.


  13. Another question. Is it wrong to say “the sign says” rather than “the sign reads”? I think both are acceptable, but then again, I’m not sure if the question mark should go after the quotation mark in the above sentence…

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