I’ll take two apos­tro­phes with my chicken ’n’ bis­cuits

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Opinion - BY MARK I. WEST Spe­cial to the Ob­server n.

I drive down West Boule­vard when­ever I go to the air­port. If I have an out-of-town vis­i­tor in the car, I al­ways point out the lo­ca­tion where the very first Bo­jan­gles’ opened up for busi­ness in 1977. The orig­i­nal build­ing no longer ex­ists, but there still is a Bo­jan­gles’ on the site.

I take some civic pride in the fact that Bo­jan­gles’ started in Char­lotte, and I am pleased that Bo­jan­gles’ will con­tinue to be based in Char­lotte even though it has just been ac­quired by Du­ra­tional Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment in part­ner­ship with the Jor­dan Com­pany. How­ever, the English pro­fes­sor in me cringes when­ever I see their logo.

On the top of the yel­low, oval-shaped logo it says Bo­jan­gles’ in bright red let­ters with a star above the j. I don’t have a prob­lem with this part of the logo. On the bot­tom part of the logo it says “Fa­mous Chicken ’n Bis­cuits,” and it’s this part of their logo that both­ers me. Now don’t get me wrong. I think their chicken is tasty, and I like their bis­cuits just fine. What I don’t like is the lonely apos­tro­phe dan­gling in front of the let­ter n. This apos­tro­phe needs a part­ner, and the place for its part­ner is on the other side of the

Some­time dur­ing the 1950s, some­body as­so­ci­ated with the mu­sic busi­ness de­cided that the word “and” is too long and hard to pro­nounce, and so the phrase “rock ’n’ roll” was born. I don’t know the name of the per­son who coined this phrase, but that per­son knew some­thing about the cor­rect use of apos­tro­phes when writ­ing con­trac­tions. As this per­son un­der­stood, when one drops a let­ter from a word, one should re­place the dropped let­ter (or let­ters) with an apos­tro­phe. Since this mys­te­ri­ous per­son had some­thing against both the let­ter a and the let­ter d, the per­son cor­rectly re­placed these let­ters with apos­tro­phes.

To this day, most people still cor­rectly punc­tu­ate the phrase “rock ’n’ roll,” but for some rea­son, this proper punc­tu­a­tion doesn’t seem to carry over to sim­i­lar phrases, es­pe­cially if bis­cuits are some­how in­volved. For ex­am­ple, when Nabisco, which is an ab­bre­vi­a­tion for the Na­tional Bis­cuit Com­pany, started mar­ket­ing in­stant pud­ding based on their pop­u­lar Oreo cook­ies, they called it “OREO Cook­ies ’N Creme In­stant Pud­ding.”

I guess they thought that by us­ing the French spell­ing of the word cream they would make their prod­uct sound more so­phis­ti­cated, but then they made them­selves ap­pear to be ig­no­ra­muses by leav­ing out the sec­ond apos­tro­phe from the con­trac­tion ’n’.

Of course, I know that I am tiltin’ at wind­mills in my ef­forts to pro­mote the proper use of apos­tro­phes, and I know that y’all prob­a­bly think it’s no big deal even if Bo­jan­gles’ can’t prop­erly punc­tu­ate its own logo. How­ever, as I see it, if we are goin’ to use con­trac­tions, we might as well do it right. Please pass the bis­cuits.

West is the chair of the Depart­ment of English at UNC Char­lotte. Email: mi­[email protected]


It’s not this apos­tro­phe that both­ers Mark West. It’s an­other one.

Mark West

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