Monday, 18 March 2013

Save the apostrophe!

There's a plot under way to do away with the poor beleaguered apostrophe. This little punctuation mark has been abused and attacked for years, but now it's apparently under real threat. 

I think this is all part of the lazy texting/abbreviating/generally-not-caring that's  currently prevalent  in written English, and I find it all very sad. The apostrophe's there for a reason; there's a big difference between it's and its, and to do away with it would lead to misunderstandings and ambiguities.

I also love the semi-colon (how many kids are taught how to use this?). And yet they go into overdrive over the exclamation mark (I know. I'm always banging on about exclamation marks). 

What is the world coming to?

(My iPad loves the apostrophe, so it's on my side. But if I don't catch it in time, it likes to change my name to France's...)

29 comments:

  1. I always taught my year sixes the correct use of semi colon and the colon - I even had to teach my own children as they were not taught it properly in their school. I also like the apostrophe but it's hard to explain to young children why the belonging 'its' doesn't have one when you have one for cat e.g the cat's tail. I didn't bother to explain why, I just said, "Believe me,this is what you do. We'll just call it The Silly Rule!" and they always remembered.

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    1. An excellent idea I've never been a teacher, but that's a good answer to the problem (if it is a problem...).

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  2. Sign seen in Birmingham city centre recently: "Taxi's this way". Aaaagh!

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  3. I love apostrophes too. I always thought they were a straightforward matter, indicating either possession or omission. Nothing else;
    its, of course, being the one exception to the possession rule.
    Nothing complicated about them. But people are determined to apply them to plurals instead. I've never understood why.

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    1. I don't think grammar is actually taught (though I may be wrong). Kids seem to be left to pick it up for themselves

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  4. I saw this on a back of a taxi bus... Dont drink and drive. Pardon me, don't you mean 'Don't' I wanted to say. It's one thing to have new words in the English language but please don't abuse the language itself.

    I always wanted to know how the write properly, and now I'm just getting the hang of it; they want to dum it down because others are too lazy to learn it. Agggghhhh!

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    1. Sorry, *how to write properly... In a hurry to get back to finishing another chapter :-)

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    2. Keep up the good fight, Paula!

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  5. I fight with my computer all the time when I want to use an apostrophe and it changes it to an open-quotation mark. e.g. '69 for 1969.
    Computers (or the people who make them) are to blame for quite a bit of this problem, especially the ones who want to auto-finish our words.
    K

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  6. I haven't noticed a reduction in apostrophes. I suspect the trouble is you're looking in the right places whereas many apostrophes are lurking in the wrong places.

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    1. They've moved about too much, and have wandered away from where they should be!

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  7. When sending short text messages from the phone, it's really tempting to skip the apostrophes...

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    1. I think you can be forgiven in a text!

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  8. I may have mentioned before that I also have the " France's" problem. I don't remember being taught how to use the colon or semi colon at school, though did have a very good grounding in grammar generally......as one did over 50 years ago. You see where I have used a line of dots? Is that where I should have used a colon/semi colon? A comma doesn't feel right there. Help please! ( And there is an exclamation mark...oh dear)

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    1. I think dots are fine. So are exclamation marks if it's an exclamation, like this!

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  9. I saw that in the paper at the weekend. Changing St. George's to without the apostrophe. Stupid. The words are being stripped of their proper meaning. Glad you think that as well.

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    1. Perhaps we should have Save the Apostrophe tee shirts printed. Any takers?

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  10. So, funnily enough, from what you say the English are using the apostrophe as wrongly as the Germans, who think they are being "modern" and "trendy" when they spice up every little sentence with as many apostrophes as they can. Sometimes when I see signs in shops or elsewhere I really want to get a huge red marker out and do some public proof-reading.

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    1. I love the idea of a gang of us going around with huge red markers doing a spot of proof-reading, Librarian :-)

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  11. I didn't know it was geting to that point, Frances. I love the apostrophe and semi-colon - any punctuation in fact. But I cringe when seeing those awful apostrophe errors, so perhaps none is better than the wrong kind at times!

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  12. "Except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken?" 1 Corinthians 14:9. Although I am atheist I still consider that The Bible is a book worth knowing and St Paul's Epistles had some good advice.

    I think that we may be living in an age when the use and meaning of words is changing at a faster rate than ever before: an age when words are so often used with scant regard for their true meaning and with scant regard even for their import.

    It is also an age where, paradoxically, the importance of accuracy in legal documents and political speeches is more important then ever as the media disect (and misquote and misuse) every utterance.

    Without punctuation and the so very important apostrophe all this can come tumbling down around our ears.

    Bang on about it as much as you like Frances. I'll be there supporting you.

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  13. Totally agree with what everyone has said, but why then do some legal documents omit as much punctuation as possible? They seem to babble on without so much as a full stop.

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    1. The rule over legal documents (in the UK at least) has been somewhat relaxed now Maggie. The reason used to be that legal drafters had to word things in such a way that there could be no ambiguity at all even if someone, in copying a document for example, omitted a comma. I have to say that in my experience old legal documents tended to be much less open to grammatical interpretation than modern ones although the objective of every legal draughtsman is to avoid ambiguity.

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