Beware the punctuation police. Last Wednesday the Mercury News published a story about a new plaque at Stanford University. Astute readers noticed that the plaque had two glaring punctuation errors. They promptly barraged the paper with letters, some of which also pointed out that the paper didn't mention the errors in the story. The paper followed up with an article about the errors. The story:
Too many apostrophes, not enough proof readers. That was the opinion of legions of angry Mercury News readers who wrote to demand a correction of Stanford University's bronze plaque outside the Gordon Carriage House, which was featured in an article and photograph published Wednesday.
The plaque explains that "the Stanford's purchased `the farm' from the Gordon's in 1876."
While historically accurate, the sentence outraged Bay Area punctuation police, who seek to remind Stanford that apostrophes are meant for indicating possession, not pluralization.
"It's hard to believe that not a single person associated with writing the text or ordering, making, or installing the plaque noticed,'' wrote Stephanie Cerra. ``I'd expect better from a project associated with Stanford."
"Quick, somebody, replace the plaque before it becomes the university condoned precedent for all those illiterate merchant vendors' `Tomato's,' `Pea's,' `Bean's,' `Shoe's,' etc. signs that sprout on roadsides and in our markets," wrote Edward Strong . "Where was the Mercury editor to let this appear without comment?"
"The mistake is an embarrassment to the community as well as to the university," according to Marcine Landon . Charle Tilford proposed that "Someone from their English Department should get out there with a grinder!"
Carl Madson offered a possible explanation: "Maybe it's a Cal prank."
Stanford assures local comma-kazes that "We are keenly aware of the problem at this point."
Said university spokeswoman Kate Chesley : "The project manager has been asked to remove the plaque and fix the errors," er, not error's.