Happy holiday’s and other goofs

Many people confuse the plural and possessive forms of words, and I usually cut individuals some slack when they make the wrong choice. But when the world’s largest chain of ice cream shops does it in its advertising, I can’t let it go. This promotional piece for Baskin-Robbins suggests that we “Celebrate…The Holiday’s” with a special treat (I won’t even ask why they’ve attached an ellipsis (…) to “Celebrate”). My immediate question is “The Holiday’s what?,” since the use of the apostrophe makes this a possessive form, suggesting that we’re feting something belonging to someone named Holiday. They meant to use the plural form, as in “Holidays.”

A policy-related feature in the Fall 2017 issue of the Journal of the Indiana School Boards Association headlined an item about students who die during the course of their education by referring to them as “decreased” students and repeating that word in a subheading. There may indeed be less of someone after they shuffle off that mortal coil, but the word the author was after was “deceased.” I’ll assume that the attorney who penned the piece knew the difference, but her spell-checker didn’t. Speaking of which …

Homophones trip up many writers, because the spell checkers that have supplanted serious proofreading at many publications can’t tell the difference. In a November 20 story from the Indianapolis Business Journal, a writer quotes a local mayor as saying that it’s “not good fiscal practice to horde taxpayers’ money.” If you’re using that money to pay for a large group, such as dozens of marauding Vikings, the usage may have been correct, because that’s a horde. But if you’re referring to the practice of squirreling money or other objects away, the spelling (and word) you’re after is “hoard.” Identical pronunciation, vastly different meanings.

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