Sunday, September 03, 2006

Apostrophe disease - a new strain.

I've just been reading a wonderful blogpost about the death of the apostrophe. At first I thought I'd discovered a kindred spirit - anyone who knew me in the classroom will remember my repeated rants about Apostrophe Disease. Now I find that not only is the apostrophe under threat grammatically - there are typographic problems as well.

And I'm pleased about that. It seems somehow fitting that as fewer and fewer people actually have the least idea about why they should stick commas in the air in the middle of words there should be a companionable decline in the typography used for this threatened punctuation mark. And I welcome anyone to the declining number of apostrophic ranters - we learn from one another, and we are fast approaching extinction.


  1. Anonymous4:43 PM

    I must admit to being too lazy to type apostrophes correctly. Further, while I can see that it might make an esthetic difference--although not to my cloddish eye--I don’t recall ever being misled by an ASCII apostrophe into misinterpreting anything I have read. I do note that, at least in my word processing program (WordPerfect), the kind of apostrophe produced depends upon the font used. If I use the apostrophe key in Arial, the type I prefer because it is easier on the eye, I get an ASCII apostrophe and an up and down comma, as in “I can’t help it, can I?” On the other hand, if I use Times New Roman as I will do for the remaining part of this reply, the result is the true apostrophe and the true comma, as in “I can’t help it, can I?”

    Thanks for piquing my curiosity. I looked into the etymology of “apostrophe.” It comes from “strophe,” as in Greek theatre, “to turn,” with the intensifying prefix, “apo-,” so its root is “turn back.”

    I also appreciate this diverting apostrophe in my lazy day. (It’s labor day in the U.S., and nothing is open, so my big activity is to make Jane and I a pot of beef and barley soup.) I don’t know if the typography herein will transfer over to your blog site as it is typed, but let’s see.

    Imagine that! Your blog site translates Ariel apostrophes into the correct format.

  2. Glad to entertain, Walter! I'm dead impressed by the culinary expertise, by the way....

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