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August 23, 2011


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And an interesting lesson on the disparate uses of the apostrophe. We do at least have to credit "Cap'n Nemo's" with getting both apostrophes right. I guess the folks at "Captn's Pack" decided that a single apostrophe would just have to take on the entire apostrophical burden. Or they thought that "Capt'n's Pack" would look goofy, which it does, which might suggest a look at their branding, hmmm. :-)

@Mike: Let's petition the bo'sun to string the Captn up from the fo'c'sle!

I just remembered that I'd written about these eye-dialect (or "apologetic") apostrophes in 2009, in a post about Dreyer's "Lil Drums." I've added the link at the end of the post:

Painful. I know everyone thinks English majors (or former English majors; post college I guess we're just linguists) are snarky and overly excitable on the subject of grammar, but if we're going to screw up the language, could we maybe do it consistently?!

@Tanita: "Painful"? I disagree. Consistency may be the goal in English classes, but in branding, distinctiveness is paramount--and these various spellings (not grammar errors, incidentally) are certainly distinctive. They're all attempts at what's known as "eye dialect": written approximations of oral pronunciation. After all, we don't pronounce "captain" exactly as it's spelled (to rhyme with "map train"); we often elide the "t" and pronounce the "ai" like a short "i."

Of course, it's important for each brand to be consistent internally. We'd be puzzled if some cereal boxes carried the name "Captain Crunch."

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