Apostrophe ambiguity

On Twitter this morning, Crispian Jago wrote: “Just listened to Dawkins talk at the NSS conference.” My reaction to this was that I didn’t know there was an NSS conference today. It took a few moments to realise that Crispian hadn’t been listening to Dawkins speak, he’d been listening to (a recording of) Dawkins’ speech.

It doesn’t bother me much when people leave possessive apostrophes out, and I ignore the Trussists who claim that every error leads to ambiguity, but this was a case where the missing apostrophe did make a difference.

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