tony_sever (tony_sever) wrote,

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Apostrophes don't count

Here's a clue from Times crossword No. 23,860 (13 March 2008):
Educator unexpectedly entertaining unknown strand of French (4,5)
(select between the square brackets for the answer [COTE D'AZUR], or read on)
In the Times for the Times blog for this puzzle, the enumeration passed without comment either by the blogger or any of his correspondents. And yet when the clue
Holiday destination priced, excluding small map to old city (4,5)
(same answer as above)
appeared as 19ac in No. 25,171 (24 May 2012), the same blogger wrote "surprised no apostrophe in the enumeration" and a commenter (who'd also commented on No. 23,860) wrote "agree 19A isn't 4,5 (if you're going to indicate word length at least get it right)".

I find this odd, particularly as both blogger and correspondent are highly experienced Times crossword solvers. Perhaps there was a time when apostrophes were indicated in enumerations in Times crosswords, but for as long as I can remember they haven't been. Even if the apostrophe replaces a letter and a space (as in Côte d'Azur), the enumeration treats it as if it simply doesn't exist, so that COTE D'AZUR is treated as COTE DAZUR (and of course appears as COTEDAZUR in the grid).

I was going to say that I have no problem with this rule, but what I really mean is that I have no objection to it. Although I probably solved both the above clues to COTE D'AZUR reasonably quickly, there have certainly been cases in the past where I've struggled because of my failure to recognise that the answer might contain an unheralded apostrophe. However, I'm happy to accept the rule as being simple and long-standing. If apostrophes were ever indicated in enumerations in Times crossword clues, I'd be interested to know when was this last occurred.
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