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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Our Vanishing Ss

A poster was recently put up in the cafeteria at the school where I work:

Last Year Lunch Application Expire Today If You Have Not Fill Out A 2013-2014 Application Lunch is $2.15.  Allow 10 Day to Process Appls.

The poster illustrates a sad and shocking phenomenon many of us have bemoaned for decades: the loss of our nation's Ss.  Whether this is the result of climate change or economic hard times, who can say, but the day is fast approaching when a once-beloved letter may disappear altogether as its natural habitat is destroyed.

The possessive S that once would have been found at the end of "Year" has already become such a rarity, it's a minor thrill to spot one in the wild.  Even the plural S that "10 Day" cries out for, has long been endangered.  In roadside signs, you would see one barely hanging on, clinging for dear life to an apostrophe: "Boild P-Nut's."  The S, dazed and weakened, did not know what it was there for.  Did the Boild P-Nut own something?  Perhaps the Frsh Tmatoe's that was next on the sign.  But what did the Frsh Tmatoe own?  Was Boild P-Nut's a contraction, an existential statement: Boild P-Nut is?

In such a predicament, it is not surprising the S is dying out altogether.  At least in the cafeteria poster, there is one brave defiant S on the end of Appls, that is application, which was abbreviated "appl" presumably to prevent confusion with a cellphone "app" which is an abbreviation for...  Oh, wait, that's short for application too.  

But I refuse to be dragged off onto the side topic of abbreviation; S is what I came here to talk about, and by golly, I'm going to do it.  So enjoy your Ss before they're finally extinct.  I figure they'll last about ten more year.

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