Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Apostrophe Misuse Ending at The NY Times?

NYTimes today: In the first half of the 1990’s, she was Mr. Mitterrand’s lead aide on international trade issues.

NYTimes today: For two years in the mid-1990s, Mr. Morrissey was suspended from practicing law in New York State for mishandling a client’s escrow account.

NYTimes today: As prime minister in the 1990s, Nawaz Sharif was a religiously conservative, nationalist leader who allowed the Taliban to flourish in Afghanistan and detonated a nuclear weapon despite an American plea not to.

NYTimes today: In the past four years, he has designed collections inspired by the war in Chechnya, the boycotted 1980 Moscow Olympics, the Soviet Navy and, this season, Moscow criminal gangs of the 1990s.

Although it's not always consisent, I think the NY Times is phasing out its long-standing policy of adding an unnecessary (IMHO) apostrophe to words like "1990's" (first example above) and is moving toward the standard style guideline in use at every other major newspaper, and is now using "1990s" (most of the time), since a decade is plural, not possessive.

For example, a search of the NY Times in 2007 through November 27 shows almost 3,000 examples of the term "1990s," and only 56 examples of the term "1990's."

A search of the same period in 2006 shows almost 3,000 examples of the term "1990's" and only 237 examples of the term "1990s."

There is a definite trend at the NY Times towards eliminating the misuse of that "puny piece of punctuation." Thank God. See previous CD posts about apostrophe abuse here and here.

2 Comments:

At 11/27/2007 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's wait to see how that plays on some cds,
buck

 
At 4/05/2010 6:45 PM, Blogger Impudent_Observer said...

Just now seeing this old post, but since I'm a former Times editor I can't help but chime in.
The paper used/uses such apostrophes to help the reader when odd bits of words clash. To my eye, the 1990s (or 1990S in an all-caps hed) looks like a car model.

 

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