From the editor's cauldronBy John Petterson
Just because they are being done that way over and over again neither makes it right nor acceptable.
There are two areas in the usage of our language that are being abused and it rankles me every time I see them - which is several times a day.
Bulletin editors have been lulled into complacency and lured into those two traps. I see the results of the slow evolution in many of the bulletins you send me.
The first deals with state/province postal abbreviations. I see the two-letter abbreviation literally everywhere - on the sides of trucks, all kinds, local delivery vehicles and 18-wheelers from around North America.
I fail to see why companies, and especially sign painters (who should know better), can't use the proper abbreviation or spell out the state/province name. This laziness appears on billboards, store windows, TV commercials and news stories, chapter bulletins - everywhere. Editors, use the correct spelling of states in your text and save the two-letter abbreviations for use where they belong - as part of an address.
The other is the expanding misuse of apostrophes. Lloyd Davis has railed on this point in previous issues of the PROBEmoter. Again, I see public misuse of apostrophes daily. Not only do store window signs advertise "New and Used TV's and VCR's," the local TV weather guessers show the bands of temperatures in the "60's, 70's and 80's." The aforementioned are not possessives, so why are they being shown as possessive? The same misuse of apostrophes is found in many chapter bulletins.
For example, a bulletin article might go like this: "Next year's show will feature music from the 30's." ==>Not right.<==
Try one of these:
"Next year's show will feature music from the '30s."
Notice in the second example that the year is not abbreviated. It is considered improper usage to use double apostrophes, e.g., '30's music. Pay attention to what's happening around you and edit your articles accordingly. Don't get drawn into the slacker's way of doing things. Learn it correctly and do it correctly.
Another area that takes a hit is when the computer does the work and the editor doesn't see what's happening. For example, if you are going to shorten a phrase: "this 'n that." WRONG! First of all, notice the incorrect apostrophe in front of the "n" - it should be "'n" - actually, it should read: "this 'n' that." Correct it. Don't let the computer tell you what's right when it doesn't know!