Monday, June 18, 2007

Preserving the old ways from being abused

Yesterday afternoon I took the nephews to a birthday party at the curiously named Victorian Gardens amusement park in Central Park. Ah, there's nothing like a ride in a child-sized cropduster that rises and falls while pivoting around a metal base to put you in mind of 19th-century England. Boys, if you behave like little gentlemen, I'll buy you each a hot-cross bun!

Anyway, as a party favor, the nephews received a toy pickup truck with a rhinoceros head where the cab should be. (One of a set! Collect 'em all!) I know what you're thinking: that's not a rhinoceros, it's a triceratops. But my 4-year-old nephew is a self-professed animal expert, and he insists that it's a rhinoceros, and unless you want to make a 4-year-old cry I suggest you accept his verdict. As if the vehicle-dinosaur (I mean, rhino) hybrid weren't exciting enough, the truck comes equipped with -- and this is quoted directly from the box -- "Free Wheel'in Power." I don't know what it is about the apostrophe that frightens and confuses people so, but if you have no idea how they function, why use one at all? Do people think they're purely ornamental? Seriously, "Wheel'in"? What would ever possess a person to put an apostrophe there?

I'll resist the urge to write a whole Ignatius J. Reilly-esque treatise on the travesty of apostrophe misuse, because I do have other things I want to do today (other than blogg'in, I mean). And I know am unhealthily uptight about this sort of thing. I came across "T'is" in a book I was reading yesterday, and it made me deeply sad -- you were so close, author I will not name! But that was an advanced reader's copy, so there's still a chance someone will catch it. And "Wheel'in" isn't at all close. Create a prehistoric beast/monster truck mashup if you must, sirs, but when you start throwing around apostrophes willy-nilly, you've gone too far. (If only I had a camera handy; I'd submit this travesty to the folks at Apostrophe Abuse.)

Oh, and as for the "Power" advertised -- you might assume this means the truck does something special, but apparently what they mean by "Free Wheel'in" is that the truck's wheels turn (freely). Which is an important feature, certainly, but not one I'd call out on the packaging.

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