When I was a kid at school I had a French teacher (ironic as you’ll soon see) who used to call apostrophes “tombstones”. They marked the death of one or more letters, he said. Handy little reminder that’s stood me in good stead over the intervening decades. Didn’t account for the possessive case but, hey ho…
Moving to Canada in my thirties then, I have been irritated almost daily by the national chain of coffee shops opened in 1964 by Tim Horton. The first was called “Tim Horton Donuts” which was completely non-contentious, despite the dodgy spelling of doughnuts.
Then though, it got popular and re-branded as “Tim Horton’s”. Trouble was, those pesky language police in Quebec decided that the possessive apostrophe was a peculiarly ENGLISH thing and simply could not be tolerated in the province of Quebec. Putting “Chez Tim Horton” on all the packaging in addition to “Tim Horton’s” was just too big an ask, so a compromise was reached and they simply dropped the apostrophe. The now defunct Eaton’s chain went simply by “Eaton” there for similar reasons. And that, dear reader is why we’re stuck with “Tim Hortons” coffee shops.
So I’m OK with all this to a degree, but why, oh why does that excuse the incorrect usage of apostrophes in all their advertising? Especially here in English-speaking BC?