Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Open Captioning

I've always had an OK relationship with grammar and punctuation. I know the difference between "then" and "than". I know when to use "it's" and "its". I like to use a serial comma. It bugs me when I see that "you're" and "your" have been misused. I can go on and on here peoples, but don't get me wrong I'm not a snob.

Yet the other day on my last post, I was confused. I used the term "ladies' man" and I would have sworn up and down to you that there is an apostrophe at the end of "ladies". It's a possessive apostrophe. When I think of a ladies' man, I think of a "man of the ladies". Therefore, he belongs to the ladies, hence an apostrophe is required.

However, as I went looking for a picture of the ladies man--made famous by Saturday Night Live-- I was surprised to see the title of the movie contained no apostrophe. I was surprised, yet I couldn't see how writers could let a huge mistake get through like that on the cover of a movie!

'So it must not have an apostrophe then', I thought to myself. And I proceeded to remove all my apostrophes from my post (except I missed one).

Later that day, as I snuggled with my husband and son on the couch to watch "New Moon", by sheer coincidence the term was brought up again. My husband likes to watch movies with the closed captioning turned on. There is a scene where Charlie is trying to convince Bella that Jake is better for her than Edward. Then he says something along the lines of, "But what do I know? I'm just a terminal bachelor. Yup, a real ladies' man."

And there it was. The apostrophe. It just felt so right to see it there. Unfortunately, being well-versed in closed captioning and some of the outlandish mistakes I've seen --sometimes the closed captioning person doesn't even try-- I knew this was not redemption. So I Wikipedia'd the term Ladies' Man and found the entry indeed included an apostrophe. However, there have been 7 Ladies Man films made since 1931, and only 3 contained the apostrophe.

I'm sure no one cares, and the term is probably exempt from the restriction of being written only one way, but for some reason it really bugs me.

-Shirley (Apostrophes' Woman)


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I'm not convinced that the term 'ladies man' is a possessive. I don't think it means that the man belongs to the ladies - therefore it doesn't qualify for a possessive apostrophe. I think it describes the man rather than the ladies' belongings. Would you describe a lover of the female form as a tits' man or a legs' man?