Thursday, October 10, 2013

Should It Stay or Should It Go?



I think the person I relate most to these days is Kate Gosselin. No, I don’t have an ex-husband who suffered an Ed Hardy addiction, nor do I have a brood of children, but if it’s true what they say about childbirth—that women forget about the intensity of the pain and keep having more—then we have something in common. 

If you read my last post, you know that I just moved—and that I absolutely hate moving. (I know, shocking!) However, I thought about it and realized that I have moved over a dozen times in the past ten years. Hence, the Kate connection: I must keep forgetting about the pain.

At least you can’t say I don’t embrace change, right? I bring that up because I was listening to NPR the other day, and Matthew J.X. Malady, a writer for Slate, proposed a change I am not on board with, and I don’t want you to think it’s simply because I fear change.

The change is regarding the apostrophe. He believes it’s unnecessary. He said that it’s becoming a trend to leave apostrophes out, and as the language evolves, the apostrophe will go the way of Jon Gosselin’s career. 

And I get it: I don’t need the apostrophe to identify the words cant and dont. But what about the following sentence: 

Well be there on time.

Well could be the contraction for we and will, but the sentence could also be a command that’s missing a comma: 

Well, be there on time.

I guess we could probably rely on the context of the conversation to discern the meaning, but then there’s the whole issue with possessives. Without the apostrophe, we don’t know if we’re dealing with singular or plural possession. If we leave the apostrophe out of the following sentence, the meaning is ambiguous: 

It was his kids idea to stage an Ed Hardy intervention.

Without the apostrophe, we don’t know if it was only one of the kid’s idea to stage the intervention or all of the kids’ idea.

What do you think about the survival of the apostrophe?

17 comments:

susie said...

I spend a lot of brain power differentiating between its and it's. It's good exercise. Let's keep it!

Emily said...

I think people overuse apostrophes more often than leave them out. If I had a buck for every time I saw an apostrophe used for a plural word, I'd be a freakin' millionaire.

Andrew Leon said...

I think we need apostrophes, but, then, I think we need commas around adverbial phrases as well.

Jemi Fraser said...

Ack! We need the apostrophe - without it reading is slower!! Crazy talk!

Shelly said...

Without apostrophes, I would be unable to read with enjoyment anymore. What is this sentence without an apostrophe: Hell do it anyway.

Theresa Milstein said...

That Ed Hardy addiction was bad. I didn't watch the show, but he was plastered on all the papers.

Luckily iPhones add them, so that may help apostrophes live on.

the late phoenix said...

Matthew J.X. Malady? that'd be cool if that was his real name...

that'd=that's a hardcore apostrophe right there

DiscConnected said...

I am trying to understand Malady's logic when he says apostrophes are not necessary.

He can only mean for some contractions, but I think he'd sing a different tune if he thought it through.

My sympathies on the move. Between 1983 and 1995 I moved seven times, and have been in the same house since then.

I gave serious thought to selling in 2005 (when my house was worth a small fortune) and opted not to because I just could not bring myself to pack up the CD collection.

I hope your roots are planted for a while!

LC

Wendy Ramer, Author said...

I think the texting world is killing the written language.

cestlavie22 said...

Honestly with the evolution of such mediums as twitter and other social networking sites that make us shorten our convo I think apostrophes are even more important. We are expected to get our thoughts across in a smaller space so we need to be specific and concise. The apostrophe is crucial to that!

Romance Book Haven said...

Oy! I'm editing and eliminating commas, adding commas, apostrophes etc.

Nas

anthony stemke said...

They who wish to abolish the apostrophe are missing the point.

Jo Antareau said...

Hmm, was I the only one who initially thought this post was about you announcing a pregnancy??? (A blog called Missed Periods sounds like the appropriate venue for it)

That aside, I guess dropping the apostrophe from the written language altogether would greatly assist those poor punctuation-challenged folk. But I cringe whenever anything gets dumb-downed. So I'm with you on this one.



DWei said...

I think apostrophe usage will be eventually be used as a form of elitism.

Only the educated and rich will know how to properly use it.

Lorena said...

I think it's just laziness!! And as the saying goes in Spanish "el vago trabaja doble" (Lazy people work double). People are getting used to texting and "tweeting" and writing quickly, so of course, they want to do without the apostrophe. BUT as you eloquently pointed out, apostrophes are EXTREMELY necessary to proper communication. So, in an attempt to save time, people are actually going to spend more time explaining/clarifying what they were trying to say!

traci's mixed bag said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traci's mixed bag said...

I'm by far no grammar guru but that change scares me. Mostly because I use the rules of writing correctly to keep me in line. It's like the 10 commandments or rules of the road. I like being kept in line, I like rules. And I especially like the apostrophe in we'll.