What's an Eddo? home

Getting to the root of the problem

Imagine that you're on Who Wants to be a Millionnaire. The question pops up:

What is an eddo?

A: A current in a river / B: A root vegetable
C: A currency / D: A stroke in golf

You've no idea, so you decide to phone a friend. My advice is not to ring anyone who works at Sainsbury's in Monkseaton. They actually sell eddoes, but would have great difficulty in describing this type of potato to you. Why do I say this? Well, please review the following extract from a computer printed sign on their shelves this weekend:

Eddo's can be peeled thickly or cook in their skins and are good for thickening soups or casseroles

I'm paraphrasing slightly, I think that the original sign was more mind-boggling. I had to read it several times to make any sense of it. We have two fundamental problems here:

  1. While the price-tag on the shelf correctly pluralised eddo as eddoes the eddo-do who wrote the sign decided to use the greengrocer's apostrophe (i.e. stick 's on a word to make it plural).
  2. What happened to the sentence in the middle there? If they had used the word cooked, it might have made more sense, though it's something of a non-sequitur to talk of adding the eddo to a casserole or soup after comments about whether or not to peel them. This latter observation is more culinary than linguistic, mind.

So, it's a big thumbs down to the signwriters at Sainsbury's, which is a shame, since the chain itself is a proud user of the apostrophe, displaying it correctly in their company name...

18 March 2001
Ashley Frieze