It isn’t uncommon for tech firms to delve into the world of grammar, spelling and punctuation, and at times take more than their fair share of liberties.
At times it’s fun and even exciting to see their innovations.
For instance, I feel the exclamation mark in Yahoo! makes the company feel more youthful and vibrant.
But sometimes, I feel Silicon Valley goes a step too far.
One example of this is Google’s apostrophe use while describing its +1 button back in 2011.
The company’s staff was flooded with complaints of incorrect grammar when saying “+1’s” instead of “+1s”.
Yes, people found it that annoying.
Naturally, folks at Google took notice.
Google team members went on to publish an explanation covered here.
In essence, they claim that the case of +1 is unique because it works both as a noun and verb.
For example, you could have multiple +1’s.
And then, perhaps, someone +1’d you in the past.
Or maybe you felt +1’nning is such a cool thing to do.
However, the problem is that all of Google’s explanations fly in the face of simple grammar.
Take a look at the clear guideline provided by GrammarBook.
You see multiple examples that they’ve provided, such as the case with phone numbers (lots of 7s in someone’s number) or when mentioning a decade (the roaring ‘30s).
There is no mention of a particular case where the apostrophe would work because a term containing a digit acts as both a noun and a verb.
Google also claimed that the apostrophe helped provide clarity to users.
But if that were true, why would there be so many complaints instead of words of encouragement and appreciation?
This story goes to show even giants like Google are subject to mistakes that can backfire quickly.
What do you think about this whole scenario?
Do you side with Google and feel their playing around with the English language rules was justified?
Or, like me, you also want the purist (and, in my opinion, clear) version of things?