Apostrophic moments

Punctuating possessives and plurals in writing English is something of a minefield; possessive plural forms like ladies’ and women’s are especially tricky, and quite a few writers of English would prefer to see the system both rationalized and simplified — in particular to use the apostrophe to signal “grammatical morpheme s” and to place it regularly before the s. That gives us the “greengrocer’s apostrophe”, as in two eggplant’s.

It also gives us possessive plurals like kid’s, as in this ad photo for CheapesTees:

(#1)

But wait, there’s more.

The CheapesTees ads seem to be consistent here. It’s how they spell.

Next complication: orthographic alterations in the stem seem to be done standardly. So: ladie– for lady with a plural s. Well, at least for the possessive plural, as here:

(#2)

I have no direct evidence as to the possessive singular (standard spelling lady’s) or the non-possessive plural (standard spelling ladies) at CheapesTees.

Having seen #1 and #2 you would of course predict possessive plural men’s (identical to the standard spelling). And you would be wrong:

(#3)

The spelling here is probably influenced by the solid, rather than separated, spelling in menswear (and for many writers, mensroom), where an apostrophe internal to the orthographic word (men’swear) just wouldn’t do (men’s wear, yes, men’swear, no).

The spellings certainly aren’t standard, but they also don’t involve just sprinkling apostrophes around at will.

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