A grammatical error carved into a war memorial in New Jersey has rankled at least one resident. The stone marker in Haddon Township has a misplaced apostrophe. Such basic, public errors tend to drive amateur grammarians crazy.
A grammatical error carved into a war memorial in New Jersey has rankled at least one resident. The stone marker in Haddon Township has a misplaced apostrophe.
Such basic, public errors tend to drive amateur grammarians crazy. Grammar lovers such as Eugene Haag.
Haag noticed that a World War II memorial in Haddon Township contains a misplaced apostrophe. The stone carved with the names of five local residents who died in the war says “Bettlewood remembers it’s war dead.” On the stone, the word “it’s” has an apostrophe. As any fourth grader should be able to tell you, that’s wrong.
“Its” is possessive, which does not get an apostrophe. The errant punctuation mark implies a contraction – “it is” – which doesn’t make sense.
The blunder has caused quiet consternation amongst townsfolk for the last 60 years, but Haag has begun pestering city officials to fix the mistake – to no avail so far.
Haag has urged two successive mayors to fix the memorial, but so far the township has done nothing – a response it’s shown before.
Haag: “There was one in particular, back in the 80s they tried to spearhead a similar action, but gave up because nothing came out of it.”
Haag posted an account of his quest on Craig’s List. He’s received many messages, some supportive, some less so. A few people suggested his time would be better spent in other pursuits. Haag says he still can’t believe the memorial’s message was not proofread before it was carved into stone.
Jeff Barg is the former writer of a newspaper column about grammar. He says he got letters weekly from readers who spied public signs with the offending misuse
Barg: It’s possible to have a sense of humor about it. Grammarians without a sense of humor are trouble. But apostrophes are one of those rules that are not debatable. You’re either using it correctly or you’re not. If you’ve misused it, you deserve to be called out.
Some grammarians go rogue. In 2008, two men went on a cross-country rampage, correcting grammatical mistakes on public signage with felt pens and paint. They were arrested in the Grand Canyon for conspiring to vandalize federal property.