Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Apostrophic Plural's

What's apostropic? It's a home-invention. It's an apostrophe that's had a catastrophe. And now, counting this sentence and the title, I've used 6 apostrophes in this post thusfar- one of them incorrect and the rest correctly used.

There s'eem's (sorry - that should read "seems") to be s'ome mis'under'standing about the us'e (or s'hould that be - mi'sus'e of apo'strophe's in today's English.

For some little time now, we have developed a tendency to scatter meaningless apostrophes all over everything we write. This dates back apparently as far as the 19th century, so we've been getting it wrong for quite a while. These days the misuse has spread to an almost endless variety of communication, both in print and electronic. I suspect all it may signify is that the people doing the writing have never stopped to ask themselves exactly what it is they're trying to say, and why they think an apostrophe may be the thing to insert artistically into their eloquent prose.

"SALE NOW ON" the board screams DOLL'S ONLY R99.99. Doll's what? Underwear? Outer garments? Or are they going to surprise me and give me only the doll's head? If they relent and give me the whole doll, I could of course claim to have received the doll's whole body, including the head. We commonly refer to this as a doll though, and dispense with the doll's body-thing. And if I decide to buy another doll at the same time, I could be said to have received two dolls. The exception will be if the bloodthirsty shopkeeper decides at the last moment to rip off the heads and give only these to me. I will then have the dolls' heads in my hands. And if he ripped off only one head and gave it to me, I would have the doll's head in my hands. See? Clear, innit?

Last time I checked, there were only two (2) instances where use of an apostrophe is appropriate. The first is to indicate that a letter has been left out in a word commonly in use - e.g. isn't (is not), haven't (have not), couldn't, shouldn't, mustn't, it's (it is) etc. The second purpose of an apostrophe is to indicate the use of possession in a sentence. Examples here might be: the boy's ball, the bird's wing feathers (one bird) , and there are variations on whether the apostrophe goes before or after the "s" (or whether another s is added),  depending on whether the "possessor" is singular or plural -e.g. "the birds' wing feathers" when there are many birds.

The following link is to a rather nice site, for those who would like to brush up on their misuse of apostrophes.
and of course its associated link "Bob's quick guide to the apostrophe, you idiots". There is also a link to a more kindly, genteel site where you will be gently tutored in the fine art of apostrophes.

There is of course one golden rule that you can just about always get away with, given the swing toward abolishing the apostrophe completely : leave it out. You can always claim you're an abolitionist!

Heres to seeing fewer silly marks scattered around all over the place. Or maybe that should read :
"Here's to s'eeing fewer 'silly mark's s'cattered around all over the place".

Monday, October 10, 2011

How the Honey Bees got their Stinger

A Cherokee Legend

(Native American Legends)

Photos taken Saturday 8th October 2011 – Bees in our Garden
Photos : Mike
Story & Photo Layouts : G

Back in ancient times when the people were more pure and could converse with the animals and the Creator would visit with them, the people asked the Creator for something that was 'sweet' to the taste. So the Creator sent the Bee, but the Bee had no stinger. Down came the Bee and it found a suitable tree in which they could build their hive, live in, produce honey, multiply and feed its young. Soon the people came to the Bee and asked for some of the sweet syrup and the Bee gave each person a container full. The people loved the syrup and greedily ate it, then went back to the Bee for more.

But the Bee replied, 'I have no more to give you for a while. You will have to wait.' The people were not happy, as they craved the sweet syrup. So they called upon the Creator, saying, 'the Bee does not give us enough of the golden syrup. We want more!!!' The Creator listened and sent down the Flower People. The Flower People began to spread all types of flowers across the land giving the Bees greater access and variety of flowers to pollinate and make more honey. The Flower People spread all kinds of beautiful wild flowers around to attract the Bees; bright blue, red, orange, purple and yellow. More Bees were created to help pollinate the flowers. The hive grew to be very large. The people seeing how big the hive was went to get more of the sweet syrup. So the Bees gave all the syrup to the people but left enough to feed their young. The people devoured the syrup and wanted more. The Bee responded, 'We don't have any more, you will have to wait.'

The people were angry and asked the Flower People to make more flowers so they could have more of the golden syrup to eat. The Flower People responded, 'We made all the flowers we could and they are all pollinated. You will have to wait until Spring.' 'No, said the people, 'We want more now!!' So they went back to the bee's hive and tore it apart killing almost all of the Bees and taking the syrup. The remaining Bees were angry. They asked the Creator what to do. The Creator was also annoyed at the behavior of the people, so he told the Flower People to create some 'briar bushes' and for the Bees to eat the briars.

The Bees did as the Creator said, they ate the briars and these were transformed into stingers. The Flower People created an entire briar patch around the Bee's tree. The next day, the people came back and started toward the Bee's hive for more syrup; but the briars around the tree scratched and tore at their bodies. Some of the people made it through the briars to the hive. Covered in welts, they yelled at the Bees, 'Give us some more syrup now, or we will do the same as we did yesterday, kill your young and destroy your home!' The Bees became angry and a loud hum came from the hive in the tree, and out they swarmed. The Bees stung the people all over until they were covered in welts and sent them running.

After that day, the people treated the Bees, flowers, and plants with great respect and always promised to replace whatever they asked for and never be greedy or take more than they needed.