The lights, the carols, the shopping-mall Santas: verily, ’tis ’Tis the Season season once again. The ’tis-ing started early this year (mid-October!) and shows no sign of abating. In fact, this year I discovered a Tis the Season store—correction, “Christmas Shoppe”—in Millersburg, Ohio. (The apostrophe on that Tis is mysteriously missing.) And if the website design is any indication, this is a place to shoppe till you droppe in a queasy stupor.
Cliché: check. White-outlined letters: check. Olde Englishe spelling: check. Busy background photo: check. Squiggly clip art: check.
Misspelled “its”: check.
So that’s where the apostrophe went!
It’s been two years since my last ’tis-the-season-palooza, so my sleigh is full. You have been warned.
And in case you’re wondering why I bother, here’s Baltimore Sun editor John McIntyre once again on this ubiquitous holiday cliché. He addresses his admonition to his fellow newspaper editors, but it’s equally relevant for copywriters:
“’Tis the season”: Not in copy, not in headlines, not at all. Never, never, never, never, never. You cannot make this fresh. Do not attempt it.
He adds: “’Twasing is no more defensible than ’tising.”
This year’s hall of shame:
‘Tis the season for scarves. Send us a picture of your favorite scarf and tag @UniqloUSA.— UNIQLO (@UniqloUSA) October 15, 2013
If you feel compelled to ’tis, at least take a nanosecond to orient the apostrophe the right way.
And don’t hang that apostrophe on the caboose, Amtrak.
Tis’ the season? Does Amtrak HQ suppose the apostrophe is a purely decorative garnish? Is no one aware that the full expression is it is, and that the initial apostrophe stands in for the I in it? Who’s conducting this train?
This email from Amazon arrived on November 4.
A mailer from Dell arrived on December 6.
“’Tis the season for time savings.”
Radio City ad in the New York Times, November 10.
“’Tis the season” for the Rockettes, I assume.
Nescafé ad on newspaper wrap, November 16.
’Tis the season for laughter and lattes … and wrong-way apostrophes.
An email from Madewell, November 19.
’Tis the season for gift ideas and new arrivals.
Nordstrom.com home page, November 27.
’Tis the season to SAVE.
Gump’s (established 1861) is one of San Francisco’s oldest continuously operating retail establishments and a dazzling destination for luxury goods. (It was also the inspiration for Forrest Gump’s name.)
Neither heritage nor upscale-itude has prevented Gump’s from succumbing to ’tis abuse.
Ad in San Francisco Chronicle, December 1. Additional demerits for this misspelling of “reins” on the Gump’s website:
With the beginning of a new century, the Gump brothers handed over the reigns to Solomon’s son, Alfred Livingston.
Procter & Gamble got all ’tissy in an ad insert in the December 1 Chronicle.
’Tis the season for comfort and strength.
The California Academy of Sciences, in Golden Gate Park, took out a full-page ad in the San Francisco Arts Monthly to do it’s ’tis-the-seasoning.
Here's the home page of DHC, a Japanese-owned, San Francisco-based skincare-products company.
Wrong-way apostrophe on ’tis. Sigh.
This one makes me sad.
Toffee Talk package insert.
Not only do I love the Toffee Talk name (and the tagline: “Little Pieces of Conversation”), but this Bay Area company makes truly outstanding toffee. Someone should have taken the owner aside and explained about holiday clichés and wrong-way apostrophes.
And to all a good night.