Proof if proofreading were required…

Emma Watson, the NME and a tiny dash in the wrong place

Following on from our recent analysis of the Oxford comma, and how non or misuse can go horribly, expensively wrong, we turn our attentions this week to its distant cousin. And it’s arguably the most misused grammatical stroke of them all – the apostrophe.

This little blighter is back in the news thanks to Hogwarts graduate Hermione Granger, aka Emma Watson, and the now online-only music rag, NME.

What’s happened?

It’s not often that Emma Watson and the NME appear in the same story, but the pure power of the apostrophe can and will bring seemingly disparate topics together when a case needs to be answered.

Miss Watson admitted to her own lack of grammatical prowess when it emerged the temporary tattoo she’d had an artist mock up on her forearm to lend support to the Time’s Up movement during the Oscars ceremony lacked the mischievous piece of punctuation  in the word “Time’s”.

Before the error was spotted.

She asked for a proofreader to come forward on Twitter – cue a large flurry of memes and mirth…

That gave the NME a short news story. It seemed like the epitome of a ‘quick win’. Presumably they hoped a mass of clicks would come their way in the reporting of Miss Watson’s mistake.

Sadly for the NME, its proofreaders must have been in the kitchen making a cuppa at the time the publish button was clicked.

“Her tattoo quickly gained attention across social media,” its story crowed, “with many pointing out that it lacked an apostrophe after the ‘S’.”

The fatal flaw

Hmm. Do you see what they did there?

Yes, that’s right – several eagle-eyed NME readers noted, commenting below the line, that the apostrophe ought to have been inserted before the ‘S’ not after.

Needless to say the error has now been corrected.

We can laugh at this now, but such errors hark back to a 2014 Content Desk post in which I observed that “to the professional content creator their accuracy should always be their honour”.

So I might be able to look past Emma’s faux pas (she was likely looking at it upside down anyway).

I’d also quietly advise the tattoo artist to have a little look at Content Desk and even consult the work of grammarian Lynne Truss for future reference.

And finally, I’ll be charitable and wish the NME well in its new online-only venture. At least the staff can hit the edit button on their mistakes now that there’s no print edition…

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