Score One for the Apostrophe

Image"Lets Go!!"

That's what appeared on the recently unveiled Old Navy SuperFan Nation college-football T-shirts. Yes, the second exclamation point is wholly unnecessary, but it's the missing apostrophe that really chaps my hide. And not just mine!

I was pleasantly surprised to see widespread mainstream media coverage of this "incident." (Andrea Chang of the Los Angeles Times helpfully explained, "Without the apostrophe, 'lets go' means to release something." "Let's" — WITH the apostrophe — is, of course, a contraction for "Let us.")

And I was even more pleasantly surprised that Old Navy has apologized for and recalled what a spokeswoman referred to as the "faulty" collection. If you go to the Old Navy website and click through to order one of the "Lets Go!!" shirts, an error message comes up. It reads:

SORRY! THIS TEE HAS BEEN TEMPORARILY TAKEN INTO CUSTODY. Thanks to the Grammar Police for catching it. LOOK FOR A CORRECTED TEE SOON!

I like to think Old Navy would have done the right thing even if this line of apparel weren't the product of licensing deals with (70-plus) bastions of higher learning, which made the mistake a particularly brazen boner. But I have to wonder if the retailer would have bothered with such an expensive undertaking — we're talking hundreds of thousands of shirts — if Syracuse University, which has launched an investigation into the matter, hadn't put its feet to the fire. After all, the shirts were produced, shipped to stores and offered for sale on Old Navy's website (the editor of which, it should be noted, rendered "Let's Go" correctly in the product description).

I've spent more time than I want to admit wondering if whoever approved the egregious graphic ...

 

  1. just didn't notice the apostrophe was missing.
  2. didn't know it was supposed to be there in the first place.
  3. didn't care and would never have dreamed that not caring would cost his employer a pretty penny.

(I don't blame the designer. It would be nice if someone otherwise qualified to work in design at Old Navy knew how to wield an apostrophe. But that's ultimately no more the designer's responsibility than colorways are mine.)

As all of the above possibilities are depressing to contemplate, I'll leave the detective work to Syracuse and direct my energies to celebrating this momentous reaffirmation of proper punctuation. When rooting for MY favorite college football team, I've been known to utter, "Let's go, Blue!" In this spirit, let us now say, "Let's go, Apostrophe!"