Sunday, 2 March 2008

Maybe I'm just being pedantic

Today is Mother's Day. And this is a source of a small amount of irritation to me. Not that I don't think mothers should have a specific day to themselves. Certainly not - it's a splendid idea.

My poor saintly mum has put up with a huge amount over the years. Bringing up brothers 1, 2 and then me can't have been easy. None of us would probably qualify as problem cases (qualify? Is there an exam?) but even so, each of us has, in their own sweet way, been a source of hassle.

So there's nothing wrong in celebrating the day; the card, the present, the meal out. That's not what's irritating me. Not at all.

It's a matter of logic and punctuation.

All the cards, all the banners, they all refer to Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day. Have a great Mother's Day. It's Mother's Day - let someone else do the running around for once. Put down those kitchen implements, mothers of the world*, today is your day.

Hang on though. We're talking about mothers in the plural. Or at least I think we are, unless this is some strange existentialist plot involving just my mother, which would be cool and odd in equal measure. So let's assume we're talking about more than one mother. And this, we have established, is their day.

So that apostrophe is in the wrong place, surely? Shouldn't it be Mothers' Day - the day of collective mothers? I was always taught that where the possessor was in the plural, the apostrophe came after the "s".

Wait a minute. That apostrophe denotes ownership. Can a day actually belong to any group of people, regardless of their merit? Is it a day of mothers, for mothers, or belonging to mothers?

And this is what irritates me. Mind you, when I start on this sort of tangent, I suspect I might be the irritant, rather than the irritated.

Really, I can go for weeks like this. It's too late for me - move on while you have a chance.

*(OK, mothers of the UK, Ireland and Nigeria. Mothers elsewhere have their Day on other dates. But my point still stands).


Rebecca said...

Well, at least no one's started advertising for Christma's. Yet.

City Girl said...

AMEN, brother! Mother's Day and Father's Day have bothered me for YEARS.

Having said that, I've found the plural possessive apostrophe scares the be-jeezus out of people.

When you read "Mothers' Day" your eye stops for a moment and you think, "Hang on, what's this?" You don't see plural apostrophes often enough to smoothly skim over them when you DO finally encounter correct punctuation.

Are enough people in agreement to start a movement? Someone call the OED for support!

Le laquet said...

Ummm ... what was the question again? Apostrophes scare the hell out of most people - maybe we should go for a Happy Mothering Sunday and take it out completely.


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