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Requiem For The Apostrophe
Is the apostrophe on its way to annihilation? Will punctuation soon enter the annals of history? Is a new era of transitional grammar dawning?
Well, it looks like that’s the way the winds of change are blowing. For many, any kind of protest is just a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. After all, what does it really matter whether something is spelt Kings or King’s? Dispense with that little tadpole like thingie once and for all and you don’t really have to worry your head about where it goes anymore. Ah, blessed relief!
For others, it’s the death knell of language as they know it. The beginning of the end, as it were. First the apostrophe, then, who knows? It could well be every punctuation mark we know. ‘Out, damn’d spot!’ would probably be the last of it as the world entered a brave new world unhampered by any kind of punctuation. For the purist, there could be no fate worse than this, never mind that some might just see it as a natural progression or evolution of language.
Well evolution is, as we speak, taking place on the streets of Birmingham and place names and road signs are going to bid a quick goodbye to the apostrophe. The Birmingham City Council feels it will be much better from the point of view of emergency services. The banishing of the apostrophe will make it easier for them to find places and not get lost. One infers from this that the apostrophe led the emergency services a merry dance through the streets of Birmingham like some Will o’ the Wisp, spreading confusion instead of clarity. If America and Australia do not put the apostrophe on place names to avoid confusion, can Birmingham be far behind?
Strangely, there are a number of professors and such erudite ilk who don’t see anything earth shattering about this move. After all, how many really do get their apostrophes right? They should know – they correct heaps of student papers. Looked at from that angle, maybe they have a point. However, there are many others who are making a strong protest against this move, asking the Council how they can teach their students what is right and what isn’t when the city signboards are wrong? The Apostrophe Protection Society (oh, yes, there really is one!) is up in arms against what it sees as a very bad example to students.
Well, the ones who do not subscribe to this don’t see this move as either wrong or right, just expedient. Does it really matter what someone like Lynne Truss has to say – well, anyway, who is this Lynne Truss? Didn’t she write something about pandas? Expediency is the need of the hour and if one has to axe the unnecessary, the superfluous, the hangers-on, so be it. Let’s guillotine the apostrophe and get back to business as usual.
And leave it for some band to compose a song about ‘The Day The Apostrophe Died’.