42 Comments

  1. Eh, everyone make’s mistake’s occasionally. They made mistake’s in the past too, its not necessarily a sign of growing illiteracy.

    For that matter, while I do find signs like this slightly annoying/amusing, I’m not even sure why a stray mistake matter’s.

  2. Even without the apostrophe, I’m not sure what they are saying. What does “Dads of Strand Book Recommendations!” man? Recommendations from the dads who work there? Recommendations from the employees’ fathers? Old recommendations from before they had a formal “Strand Book Recommendations” program?

  3. The joy of studying grammar is that just about every sentence, when you look at it long enough, is ambiguous; sometimes you can work that to your advantage: Your Honor, I submit the meaning is “Dad’s (of Strands) Book Recommendations” — that is, Dad’s Book Recommendations, where this particular Dad happens to be affiliated with Strands.

  4. “Even without the apostrophe, I’m not sure what they are saying. What does “Dads of Strand Book Recommendations!” man? Recommendations from the dads who work there? Recommendations from the employees’ fathers? Old recommendations from before they had a formal “Strand Book Recommendations” program?”

    The belief that a friendly phrase should be meaningful and clear, is itself a type of semi-literacy.

    That is really sad.

  5. Point of order:
    You forgot to establish that the sign is in any way grammatically incorrect.

    With that point left vague, many of the complaints that follow are premature.

  6. Have you noticed that when people create science fiction and fantasy characters they use a lot of apostrophes?

    Names like K’thar, G’r’tx, Y’shua.

  7. A multi-billion-dollar company that I might or might not work for has so many random apostrophes in their materials that we’ve started to refer to them as “official [company] apostrophes” whenever we see one anywhere. The company has a word in its name (not a possessive OR a plural) that ends in “s”, and some folks have taken to writing it with an apostrophe before the “s”!

  8. “You forgot to establish that the sign is in any way grammatically incorrect.”

    Because that was self-evident, and therefore only a @$!# Squirrel would explain it.

  9. “Because that was self-evident”

    Except it isn’t. Because the sign MIGHT be right, just the way it is. (Admittedly, that’s not the way to bet.)

  10. “Because the sign MIGHT be right, just the way it is. ”

    Dad is of Strand Book Recommendations!

    This of Strand Book Recommendations belongs to Dad.

    Among the many Recommendations of Strands is Dad’s Root Beer– here have some.

  11. I was going to say that one errant apostrophe doth not semiliteracy make, but then I realized that you might be referring to the structure of the sign. I didn’t understand it until I realized it was about Father’s Day, after which I didn’t understand it. Is it about recommendations for dads by Strand or recommendations of (by) dads working at Strand? Or is it saying that here you can find the dads of the Strand Recommendations department?
    Incidentally, I’m currently reading Steve Allen’s 1991 book “Dumbth”, of which the first hundred pages are a jeremiad about the incompetence he was running into everywhere. I’m about to get into the second part, his suggestions for getting Americans to think.

  12. “Dad is of Strand Book Recommendations!”

    Mr. Dad, associated in some way with the Strand, has book recommendations(!)

  13. “Mr. Dad, associated in some way with the Strand, has book
    recommendations(!)”

    Wouldn’t your interpretation be either, “Dad of Strand’s book
    recommendations!” or “Dad’s (of Strand) book recommendations!”?

  14. “his suggestions for getting Americans to think.”

    Meh. Most people don’t think about things, most of the time. There are a few people who think a lot about a few specific things. There are a few people who think a lot about a lot of different things. But even when a lot of people think a lot about a problem, that’s no guarantee that it gets solved. Technology is what saves us, where “technology” doesn’t mean “electronic gadgets” but rather “accumulated wisdom about how things work, preserved and transmitted between people and groups who discover it to people who need it”.

    Usually, when people complain that other people just don’t think, they mean they’re upset that other people don’t think the same way that they do. So when that jackass walks out into traffic, it’s not because they didn’t think. It’s because they thought the cars should stop, and the drivers of the cars, doing the complaining, didn’t think they should have to.

  15. “Wouldn’t your interpretation be either,
    ‘Dad of Strand’s book recommendations!’
    or
    ‘Dad’s (of Strand) book recommendations!’?”

    It wouldn’t be the first one because Mr. Dad has recommendations(!), so the recommendations are his, and therefore the possessive goes on “Dad”, not “Strand”.
    The second one would also be correct, as would a third option,
    Dad’s, of Strand, book recommendations!

    There a lots of ways to rewrite it, better.

    See, Bill is treating it like a headline. He has lots of experience, I’m guessing on both sides, of cases where the editor who writes the headline not quite capturing the essence of the story. That’s an entirely reasonable analysis of how the wording on this sign arose.
    But I have legal training, and the tendency is for legal analysis to try to save text as written. The assumption is that when statutes are written, the legislature says what it means to say, and therefore the statute says what it means and means what it says (like headline-writing, this sometimes produces comical results). The ultimate goal is to make it some that everyone who reads the thing comes away with the same understanding. (Insert joke about how NOBODY understands legal writing.)
    For the type of person who wants to see what I mean (if such exists) the thing to do would be to Google “canons of statutory construction”

  16. ‘It wouldn’t be the first one because Mr. Dad has
    recommendations(!), so the recommendations are his, and
    therefore the possessive goes on “Dad”, not “Strand”.’

    So, you’d talk about the “president’s of Israel opinion” rather
    than the “president of Israel’s opinion” because the opinion is
    the president’s rather than Israel’s?

  17. “Occam’s Dad tell us this is not what they meant, and therefore the sign was incorrect.”

    That’s not what you meant, and therefore it’s incorrect.

  18. “So, you’d talk about the “president’s of Israel opinion” rather
    than the “president of Israel’s opinion” because the opinion is
    the president’s rather than Israel’s?”

    Presumably, this imaginary president of Israel speaks for Israel, and therefore it would be Israel’s opinion. Conversely, if Steinberg of Israel offers an opinion, the opinion is Steinberg’s, not Israel’s (of course, Steinberg’s opinion and the rest of Israel’s opinion may coincide.

    Here, we have Dad, who is associated with the bookstore (he is “of Strand”, but apparently does not speak authoritatively for Strand. If Dad DID represent the Bookstore, then we could leave him out of it, and just have Strand’s Book Recommendations!

    Hint: The reason that apostrophes are disappearing from business names is that you can’t have apostrophes in domain names, and if you don’t have your own domain, you aren’t a business to be taken seriously in the third millennium.
    The reason that so many darn people get apostrophes wrong is that the rules regarding apostrophes are arbitrary and stupid.

  19. James, even if the president isn’t speaking for Israel — just expressing his own opinion — “The President of Israel’s opinion” is correct.

    I’ve never seen any grammar authority approve inserting a possessive apostrophe-s in the middle of a noun phrase.

  20. And just so we’re clear, even if he /was/ speaking for Israel, that doesn’t mean he’s the president of the nation’s opinion!

  21. Have to agree with Powers here. If John is from Toronto, it’s “John of Toronto’s opinion”, not “John’s of Toronto opinion”, nu?

  22. I was really disappointed in Steve Allen’s Dumbth back when I read it — it basically was nothing more than the clichéd age-old diatribe against the young uns not doing things like I am used to. It hadn’t aged well when it was new, it should be particularly vapid nearly 30 years on.

  23. I am reminded of the perhaps apocryphal exchange between Adlai Stevenson (running for president) and a gushing fan. “Mr Stevenson, you have the support of every thinking person in the nation.” “That’s not enough, Madam. I need a majority.”

  24. Can you have separate the possession from the possessor? I don’t think Mike’s …. descriptive words… possession, is ever allowed. This leads to some ambiguity but if it *is* the recommendation of Dad of Strand it really does have to be Dad of Strand’s recommendation. I think James has painted himself into a corner.

    As for what this sign means the most reasonable interpretation would be Dads of Strand’s recommendations.

  25. OK, that was dumb, but if only there were a preview function so that you could check for unclosed italics….

  26. ” I don’t think Mike’s …. descriptive words… possession, is ever allowed. ”

    You might want to investigate subordinate clauses. Typically, but not universally, set off by commas.

  27. Woozy’s last insightful comment claims I can’t do what I just did…

    But then I’ve always been one to boldly be contrarian…

  28. “Woozy’s last insightful comment claims I can’t do what I just did”

    I’m not sure if you are being sarcastic. And I’m not sure what I claimed you can’t do.

    “You might want to investigate subordinate clauses. ”

    I don’t see how that is relevant.

    Although, I realize you can put a possession *before* the possessive as in, “the books were Dad’s”.

    I guess this could go something like this.

    “Whose things are these?” “Dad’s.” *quizical look* “Of Strand” *vague waving around as though still confused what the function of the things were* “Book Recommendations!”

  29. “As for what this sign means the most reasonable interpretation would be Dads of Strand’s recommendations.”

    I agree. But it raises the question of why a Strand’s recommendation would even have a dad? I guess it’s metaphorical.

  30. Quoth woozy: And I’m not sure what I claimed you can’t do.
    “I don’t think Mike’s …. descriptive words… possession, is ever allowed.”
    Mike’s –> Woozy’s
    possession –> comment
    descriptive words –> previous, insightful
    Woozy’s previous insightful comment

    Is that not allowed?

  31. I don’t think a possessive can easily replace a “for” or for that matter “by” construction. But the intended meaning seems to be “Book recommendations — for [or by] Dads of Strand”.

  32. My first name is “Mark”, my middle name is “in” and my last name is “Boston” so “Mark in Boston’s opinion” is correct.

  33. Oh, I see. I meant words not directly pertaining to the possession. Adjectives are *part* of the possession and are unquestionable allowed. So My Beautiful Launderette is obviously acceptable. But “Michael’s, although he does prefer to walk, automobile” surely is meaningless.

    But I was tentative and unsure so I did put it as a question.

  34. Everybody makes mistakes. The correct response is then to fix them.

    Or at the very least, realize that this is an embarrassing mistake and immediately take the sign down.

    The signs of growing illiteracy are 1) not noticing; or 2) noticing and assuming nobody else will notice or care.

    And remember, this isn’t a store selling t-shirt’s: it’s a well-known book store.

  35. The tragedy here is that there’s an easy fix that not only solves the problem but reads a bit more smoothly:

    STRAND DADS RECOMMEND!

    (or RECOMMENDED BY STRAND DADS!)

  36. My first name is “Mark”, my middle name is “in” and my last name is “Boston”

    — What do Attila the Hun and Kermit the Frog have in common?
    — Same middle name!

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