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Monday
Mar012010

Future wife of many footballers

 

 

My seven-year old son is learning about punctuation.  I saw that he’d written in his textbook: ‘a bunch of banana’s.’  In a high, squeaky, panic-ridden voice, I told him: ‘There is no apostrophe in two bananas!’

He’s a smart kid, and I know he’ll get it right soon enough. He lives in a house where every time someone says ‘should’ve’, I bark: ‘Should have, not should of. Should of doesn’t make sense!’ I mean to say this so many times to my kids that they are bored out of their skulls into getting it right. 

I know I’m hateful but I also bore them (and my husband) into respecting the difference between ‘less’ and ‘fewer’. If you say ‘less sweets’, then you will receive fewer sweets than your brother.

Apart from being as mean as a snake as far as speaking and writing correctly are concerned (take that sharp knife ‘from the baby’ not off the baby- oh just TAKE IT!) I am a reasonable mother. But there is something about people who misuse the English language that makes me furious. The other week, I saw a piece of work pinned to a wall in my son’s school. The teacher had written something to the effect of ‘I should of known!’

Yes, you should have known, and perhaps you shouldn’t have become a teacher, because you are, astonishingly, ignorant of the correct construction of the past tense and it depresses me to think that the likes of you are paid to teach my children basic English. Are people lazy or stupid or both?  How did that person get through – and worryingly, pass, her teacher training course?

I worry that this disregard for language is indicative of an underlying carelessness and arrogance in society.  There is a belief among some that you can succeed with minimum effort by cheating others: misleading people about the extent of your abilities. And maybe you can.

If you look to the right of this blog, you’ll see an ad (unless they subsequently withdraw it and I hope they do, for it is lowering the tone of the site) entitled ‘PR For Authors’ – it boasts ‘a 72 Point’s book PR package.’ Plainly, these advertisers don’t understand a concept that my seven-year old is about to master: that there is NO APOSTROPHE in a plural.  It’s unlikely therefore, that any author would want to trust them with a sentence, let alone a book.

Meanwhile, if there is cause for an apostrophe, it’s invariably omitted. There was an item on the news recently, about the early sexualisation of girls. Some stores sell padded bras for 11-year olds, and one of the pieces of clothing featured was a t-shirt bearing the slogan ‘Future Footballers Wife.’

While spluttering in horror at the idea that someone would try to sell a padded bra to an 11-year old, I was as horrified by the slogan on the t-shirt. ‘They haven’t put an apostrophe in ‘Footballer’s!’ I blurted to my husband. Even if the 11 year old planned to be the future wife of more than one footballer, this would still merit an apostrophe after the ‘s’ of footballers.

I was forty last year, and have been in a bad mood ever since, so you must excuse me. Also, having three boys (the eldest is seven) has eroded my parental principles. Because I am too tired to argue from 6.30am to 9.30pm, my children often eat their dinner in front of the TV, fight each other frequently and violently, and rarely tidy up. But by heaven, they will know the correct use of the apostrophe if it kills me! It probably will.

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