Sunday with Zin: More Apostrophe Stuff!

I have written aint, dont, havent, shant, shouldnt, and wont for twenty years with perfect impunity, using the apostrophe only when its omission would suggest another word: for example hell for he’ll. There is not the faintest reason for persisting in the ugly and silly trick of papering pages with these uncouth bacilli.

Hello I am Zin and I love apostrophe controversy!

In May Slate published an article with the title: “Are Apostrophes Necessary? Not really, no” and of course that got my attention!

All over the world (at least in England) apostrophes are disappearing! Waterstone’s is now Waterstones! That is what happens when you sell the business out to a conglomerate they will change your name!

Last year I had a lot of fun with the Nobel-prize-winning physicist Gerard ’t Hooft and his Asteroid 9491 when the International Astronomy Union named an asteroid in his honor but turned ’t Hooft into Thooft! I also got the only email I will probably ever get from a Nobel-prize-winning physicist!

I avoid contractions and possessives so I do not need apostrophes unless they are in quotes or titles or names like ‘t Hooft because I am too boring to re-invent spelling but not everyone is so boring!

I did not know the US had an official policy banning apostrophes in street names! But I did not know there even was a United States Board on Geographic Names in the first place! I think it is just wrong to call the mountain Pikes Peak because how do you know if the name is Pike or Pikes without the apostrophe? And I do not understand how Clark’s Mountain in Oregon got an exemption! Martha’s Vineyard was named in the seventeenth century before people had time to worry about such things (and when apostrophes were all new and shiny and just starting to be used for possessives in the first place) so I suppose that is why it is an exception and gets its apostrophe.

There is a whole movement to Kill the Apostrophe! But Apostrophe Protection Society is opposed to that death penalty! The apostrophe even has a theme song! And a book!

The sole purpose in the life cycle of the apostrophe used to be to torture students and give grammar school teachers something to do but now we have better things to teach in fourth grade and students seem to be torturing themselves just fine so maybe that is not a good reason for apostrophes to go on living! The more modern secondary job of the apostrophe is to scare computers but do we really need apostrophes to do that?

I do not think we should be changing punctuation around to make our computers happier though! Or even to make fourth graders happier! I do not think though that it is ok to just not use them and let dont and wouldnt fend for themselves! And what about hell and shell and ill? I still do not think it makes sense to make people figure out if it is Pike or Pikes who discovered the peak (or whatever he did to get it named after him). It is not that hard to learn to use apostrophes or to avoid them if you do not like them!

Maybe everyone should write Zin style and we can forget all about apostrophes!


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