I don't get too bent out of shape when people misspell, punctuate poorly, or use the wrong word, as long as it's in their personal communication. It pains me a little, because I like the precision and beauty of language, but not everyone has a facility for it, and they are not putting the mistakes out there in a public forum.
But in professional communications perfection should be the goal, and I am flabbergasted that people and businesses pay to print and distribute materials--not to mention display signs--that contain glaring errors. Is there really no one along this continuum--the writer, the manager, the owner, the printer--who can recognize that something is incorrect?
I was following a truck recently that advertised the services of its owner, a landscaper. Along with mowing, edging, and laying sod, there was 'prunning.' I'm sure this custom sign wasn't cheap--it was large and looked well made--and yet, obviously, at no point did anyone see this simple misspelling. Even if the owner couldn't spell, wouldn't you assume he'd ask someone to proofread before he spent hundreds of dollars on a sign that was his face to the public, so to speak? Or that there would be someone at this sign-making enterprise that would double-check for accuracy before they committed the goof-up to posterity or had to haggle over redoing it?
But it is the misuse of apostrophes (particularly, when they denote possession) that is starting to make me crazy, not just because it's ubiquitous, but because their proper usage isn't all that difficult to comprehend.
Menus are the worst offenders. Oyster's, martini's, and entree's, for instance. This leaves me wondering. Which oyster? Which martini's what? Olive, onion? And while menus represent less of an investment than a huge roadside sign, consider this one in my town: 'Cap't Bill's Backyard Barbecue' which is 'catered by the Musser's.' The apostrophe is used correctly after 'Bill,' because the backyard barbecue belongs to him. But what or who is 'the Musser'? And catered by the Musser's what??
Aaaarrgh...! It's really not that hard. If something belongs to something or someone, you indicate that with an apostrophe: the dragonfly's wing, Mr. Pettifogger's hat, the owner's name, Peggy's pet peeve.
If it's simply a plural, then leave it alone! Martinis, lunch specials, entrees, the Mussers. For you eating establishments out there, "Wednesday's special" is correct, but "Beer special's on Wednesday's" is not.
Okay, I feel better now and am ready to move on. I think I have a couple of shrubs I need to prun.