Daily Archives: November 21, 2005

Real Estate and the Roaming Apostrophe

The real estate liftout in the weekend newspapers is always a treasure trove of grammatical errors.

* Located in one of the most highly sort after areas of Tallebudgera Valley, you will be drawn into the peace and privacy of this large renovated family home.

Well, maybe you will be drawn in if you do decide to be located etc, but they really mean that the large, renovated family home is located there. And we have a by no means rare appearance of “sort after? instead of “sought after?. From years of reading the Sydney Morning Herald property pages I can attest that this error is not just a Gold Coast usage.

The roaming apostrophe has a field day and although my previous post here was on the apostrophe, I just have to list some of my finds from last Saturday’s Gold Coast Bulletin (?the Bully?) real estate section.

* The Seller’s have moved on, creating a great opportunity for astute investors.

* Having it’s own direct private access to the beach, ‘Breakers North’ is situated in a much sought after location.

Hmmmm, ‘Breakers North’: that’s one of the other amusing features of the real estate pages. Not content with letting apostrophes roam around to turn up where they don’t belong (?it’s own direct private access?), evidently the people who write this stuff don’t know that when you use quotation marks like that, either in the single or double formation, you are saying in effect that the item referenced is not real or is fake, or that this is the nickname of the entity (as in the previous paragraph here, “the Bully?) or quoting a word or phrase.

There is an extensive collection of erroneous uses of quotation marks, with some quite humorous comments, at The Gallery of “Misused? Quotation Marks.

More on these lines from the Bully:

* ‘Palm Springs Residence’ is a stunning Beachfront building that oozes style and sophistication (now there’s an original expression!) …

* Offered ‘For Sale’ by extremely motivated vendor’s apartment XXX is stunning… (so it’s not really for sale – and slipped a superfluous apostrophe in there too, as well as leaving out a comma before “apartment?)

* The Magnificence of ‘Marquis on Main’ (well, let us in on the secret, what’s its real name?)

English can be such a rich and expressive language. It’s a great pity that people understand it so little they have to hang little decorations on words in this way, no doubt expecting that this will make their copy more interesting, little realising that it just makes some people either laugh or feel sorry for them. 

There has to be a market for a basic guide to using English in real estate advertisements, doesn’t there? Maybe not.

And I acknowledge I may be fighting a losing battle on the use of “sort after? in place of “sought after?. A quick google on “real estate sort after? (without the quotation marks) gave me 13.2 million results! It was clear from reading a handful of them that the authors were deadly serious.