Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Gifts R U'S

When I was walking along the beach in Spain one evening recently, this sign jumped right off the shop front and hit me between the eyes.

The plural of cadeau (which is the French word for gift) is cadeaux, not cadeaus.

If the plural was cadeaus (and I've written it twice now so surely you would have noticed) there would be no apostrophe between the u and the s.

The mistake of inserting an apostrophe before the s in plurals is often made in written English.

But, in French, apostrophes are only ever used to replace a missing letter. There's no such thing as an apostrophe to denote possession in that language.

I wonder what letter the shop owner thinks is missing. The x perhaps?

And why is presents not written as present's? Such inconsistency.

Finally, the shop is in Spain. Why use the French word in the first place?

English, fair enough. Many English people go on holiday to the Costa del Sol. Indeed, many live there.

But it's not as if the place is teeming with French people. After all, they have their own south coast to enjoy. If anything, the word should have been the German for gifts. There were hundreds of Germans there. So Geschenke would be my choice. That would be Geschenkes, or rather Geschenke's, in the shop owner's parlance.

OK, it's beginning to sound like a rant now so I'll stop before it gets out of hand.

But how did I notice the error in the first place?

It's a gift.

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