It’s been a good week for ... the written word

There’s no such thing as bad publicity for punctuation in this digital age, when grammar is being rendered redundant. With sadness but little surprise, I note how a Northern Ireland council has perpetrated a crime against the apostrophe which has cost the taxpayer more than £1000.

The offending mark – courtesy of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council – appeared in an advert for a performance of Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations. “Dicken’s” is how it was printed. And so a literary great spins in his grave while the council coughs up £1200 in reprinting costs.

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Meanwhile, the BBC reported the correct usage thus: “Charles Dickens' Great Expectations.” Ugh. And so confusion is compounded.

Now, please indulge me as a shake down my well-worn language anorak and have a grammatical grumble.

Singular possessive: easy-peasy. You just add a blooming “s”. Simples!

OK, Charles’s Dickens throws that familiar spanner in the works of being a name ending in “s”. But this makes no difference. Go on, indulge in another “s” after the apostrophe. It is correct, after all.

It’s the best way to keep up with the Joneses, and all the Jones’s friends.

It’s been a bad week for ... the spoken word

And so to a tale of two cities ... Travel pocketbook publishers Marco Polo have caused a stooshie by warning holidaymakers to expect Glasgow to be the opposite of “sophisticated” Edinburgh, referring to the Dear Green Place's local dialect as “rough slang”. But as Scots Language Centre director Michael Hance points out: “A dialect can’t be rough, that makes no sense linguistically."

Marco Polo have previous when it comes to comparing Glasgow and Edinburgh. Their Italian edition was blunt on the contrast between slang-speaking Glaswegians and “their more sophisticated neighbours”.

The English edition warns those visiting Glasgow: “You will come across a glaring contrast to Edinburgh: post-industrial charm, rough slang, no-frills urbanity. The unsophisticated but hearty charm appeals to many visitors. Unlike the more refined residents of Edinburgh the Glaswegians don’t mince their words.”

Mince? The good people at Marco Polo should be directed to the Glaswegian meaning of that word, as in “you talk pure mince”.

And they can away and bile their heids, too.