I bought a Dime bar today. I hadn’t seen one for years; possibly because they’re now called Daim bars. However, just as I insist on Marathons and Opal Fruits rather than Snickers and Starbursts, the Dime name is safe in my house.
I don’t know why we have to change the names of things to fit in with Europe or America. I used to buy Jif; but I’m certainly not paying for a bathroom cleaner that makes me think of a venereal disease.
Words are important to me; I spend much of the day manipulating them into what I hope are lucid sentences. When I see British people using Americanised spellings, I wince. ‘Favorite’ and ‘color’ infuriate me; I gag when someone writes ‘gray’; ‘center’ makes me choke on my coffee.
My journalism tutor was ‘old school’. He always wore a three-piece suit with a pocket watch, and would ask the ‘ladies’ for permission to remove his jacket. He insisted the best way to plough through dusty law notes was “with a whisky in one hand, and a blonde in the other”. He didn’t like newer meanings for words: ‘pathetic’, to him, would always mean ‘in need of sympathy’.
I do not hold such a reactionary stance towards new words and meanings; I believe language is fluid and have been known to invent a few words of my own. However, I am old school when it comes to apostrophes. I have seen many cases of itchy apostrophe disease, but one sticks out in my mind as blatant abuse.
I was working in what I had hoped would be a very brief stopgap job (it wasn’t; I was there for a year-and-a-half and spent many evenings sitting crying on my kitchen floor). This company sold goods identified by codes made up of letters and numbers. One uncouth youth would repeatedly add apostrophe ‘s’ to denote the plural on invoices and boxes. Finally, I could bite my tongue no longer. I told him it was wrong and why it was wrong.
“My way might be wrong,” he said, “but it looks better than yours.”