The Death of the Apostrophe

A number of the articles in the ‘Unintentional Humor’ section are here because of the incorrect use (or lack of use) of the apostrophe. This is a simple, yet much misused, grammatical device that has a vital role in making writing unambiguous. Its death was spurred on this week because a society dedicated to preserving the correct use of the apostrophe shut down.

Patients Rewarded

This was an email I received from my local Y. 
I hadn’t realized until I saw the notice that the clientele is largely doctors who refer their patients for exercise therapy. 

"Part time woman"

I regularly see advertisements for part time workers. While it is illegal in most cases to be gender specific, people still are, and somebody told me recently that they were looking to hire a part-time woman. They asked me if I knew any, and I couldn’t help asking what gender they were the rest of the time. 

"Taken Back"

I was having a conversation with one of my employees about his performance and laid out a specific area where he had failed to perform. He apologized and said “I’m really taken back by what you’re saying.”

"A Leadership Roll"

One of my clients produces a circular for supermarkets. Years ago, he was trying to motivate the person who inputs the pictures into the circular to step up to take more responsibility. In an e mail about goals and responsibilities, the employee wrote: “I’d like to get away from entering grocery products in the computer and take on a Leadership Roll.”

"Intense Purposes"

Another one that came to me in an e mail. “For all intense purposes this matter can now be considered closed”. I guess if the purposes weren’t intense then the matter would remain open.

"Eminent Franchisor"

I read the following in a newspaper recently: “A bankruptcy filing by the franchisor seems eminent.” I suppose that the franchisor was pre-eminent in their field and because of poor results decided to drop the “pre” status. Or perhaps it was something to do with Eminent Domain. 

"Hats Off!"

I recently got this note from a colleague: “Thanks so much for what you’re doing and it sounds like you’ve made meaningful progress. My hats off to you guys!” 
Years ago at our weekly management meeting I told the managers that the President of a large Bank was coming to see me. My VP of Operations said "That bank can't have much going on" so  I gave him a quizzical look and said "Really? Why do you say that"? I could see the wheels turning in his head as he tried to remove his foot from his mouth, and what came out was a classic: “If that's what I meant I wouldn't have put it that way”. We never let him forget it.  
Years ago, my COO said at our weekly management meeting "That guy's really turned it around….he's done a complete 360". These days as my Emotional Intelligence has improved, I'd exercise self restraint and suppress my response but I found myself saying "That's certainly a turnaround. I hope we got some good work out of him while he was at the 180 stage".    

"Axe him to leave"

My old COO has been the subject of several of the entries in the “unintentional humor” section and here’s another gem.  In common with a number of people in the New York area, he was unable to pronounce the word “ask” and used the word “axe” instead. He also liked violent metaphors and instead of saying he was going to fire someone, he would say he was going to “Axe” them. One of my other employees innocently asked him once….”Do you mean you’ll axe them to leave?”  
I’m really impressed. It is rare to meet somebody who embodies, in one place, all the things that make up the culture and ethics of a company.  I can’t wait to meet but one thing before we do. Are you some kind of mascot that represents all the good things or are you active in a managerial and decision-making capacity as a Principal of the firm?   

A Non – Evasive Procedure

The benchmark test involved putting your hand inside a medical device that measured a number of things. To assuage fears about medical risk, there was an announcement card on the desk promoting the program that described this baseline test as “A Non Evasive Procedure”.

“It’s a mute point”

Do you mean that it is very quiet? I can’t hear it? Why would it be so silent? Oh, I see….you mean a “moot point”. Interestingly, the etymology of the word “moot” comes from the Anglo Saxon  gemot, literally “a meeting”. The Moot was the town assembly and a ‘moot point” is one that is worthy of debate there.  Nothing quiet about that!    

What is your favorite past-time?

I really couldn’t decide what to put in. Should it be something global like “Ancient Rome” or “The Early Eighteenth Century in England” or something more specific like “College” or “The first year I was married”?

“It is time to let go the reigns”

One of the things that I see increasingly these days is that for some reason people are using the word “reigns” where they mean “reins”.  This is an interesting misuse that can have some unintended interpretations…although in the end you can argue that the two meanings are not so different after all.
This just in!
TAB has a bulletin board called the Hotline where people ask for advice and input.  This was just posted on it:
Ah, the power of punctuation.  
You mean like they were Gods or something? Maybe the “Deus” could come down from the sky or out of the projector showing the power point – a modern day “deus ex machina”. Or did you simply mean the “dais”, the thing they sit on? All my fanciful conjecture simply misses your point. Shame…I liked your concept better than the staid reality.      
This is a solicitation that I got from somebody about something.  I have no idea what it was because of course I didn’t click the link, but it got me wondering…a piece of who’s mind?  It’s an interesting question, because I don’t know how you would get that delivered over the internet and I was wondering if they use UPS or the Post Office to send you a piece of their mind.  I just hope that it’s not the last piece!