This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Caulis: a rant.

What? You don't know what a caulis is?

Well, neither did we. It was on a cardboard sign by someone's gate, and we were half a mile down the road before we both triumphantly exclaimed: 'cauliflowers!'

Yes, this post is about greengrocers' apostrophes.

I know, I know, but people will get aeriated about signs saying POT'S or TOM'S or CAULI'S.

'A plural doesn't have an apostrophe!' they scream, as red with fury as a crate of BEET'S.

There, there, now. Calm down, dear. I have two point to make. Firstly, it's really not worth risking a heart-attack for the sake of a punctuation mark.

Because, let's face it, it'll make everyone snigger at your funeral.

Secondly, while plurals are not signalled by apostrophes, missing letters are. You've seen this in the word, well, you've (which is short for you have). And possibly fo'c's'le (short for forecastle), too.

So - sorry about this - but all those TOM'S and BEET'S and POT'S signs are right. The apostrophes show that letters have been missed out and should, strictly speaking, read: TOMATOES or BEETROOTS or POTATOES.

And not only that, but the apostrophes also stop people spending far too much time wondering what on earth a caulis is.

Word To Use Today: cauliflower. This word is from the Italian caoli flori, which means cabbage flowers.

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