Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I Agree, Kill the Apostrophe

It's time...
....I have referred to the apostrophe as the forgotten letter in English. It is an anomalous letter, because it absolutely never corresponds to a sound (I think, though see this post), but it is an obligatory part of the spelling of indefinitely many words (most obviously, all regular genitives and all negated and cliticized auxiliaries). The existence of a few older location names that lack the apostrophe means nothing about its prospects; it's as unimportant as the existence of a peculiar set of nouns that do not take the apostrophe in their genitives (the personal pronouns her, his, its, my, our, their, and your). What drives the error-hunters wild is that it not only gets missed where it was putatively needed, it also gets inserted where it is not allowed (recall the awful incident of the mistakenly apostrophed lunch bus that the BBC parked most insensitively under the windows of the Linguistics and English Language offices at my university). But there are no signs of it dying out. Rosen's suggestion that we are on any such path is totally off base...
It would improve my spelling.

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