If there’s one thing that annoys the most pedestrian of the middle classes, it’s when they find a badly used apostrophe. In reality, they don’t hate it at all; they love it! It gives them a sense of superior smugness; that they have managed to understand a simple rule that someone else hasn’t. They can then bang on about how poorly educated most people are these days – the subtext of which is how intelligent they are.
Enough please! The apostrophe is an anachronism and rarely, if ever, needed to convey the true meaning of text. Like the split infinitive, it is just another victim of die-hard language fascists that has not been allowed to die gracefully. Instead it has been kept alive artificially on life support for far longer than its natural or useful lifespan. If that isn’t cruel enough, the only reason for it being kept alive is just so it can be used to make people feel smug for recognising it, and thus form even deeper divisions in society.
However, there are two possible explanations for why so few people use the apostrophe correctly:
- They don’t know, because they are stupid and didn’t go to school, or went but just didn’t listen…or something.
- They went to school, heard the explanation and realised it was utterly pointless so reused the neurons for something useful – like football scores.
Re-read this post and imagine that the apostrophes weren’t there. Would you understand it ? Would you understand what I meant by “werent” ? In fact, if you spot an apostrophe-related error in this post, would you get confused ?
When you see a fruit and veg seller mark-up the price of “Banana’s” are you really, genuinely, confused by what they mean ? Do you really think the vendor is claiming that the curved, yellow, fruit are owned by someone called “Banana” ? This is a rhetorical question, because if you really tried to answer it then you should not be questioning the intelligence of others. In fact you should be seeking psychiatric help.
So, I am starting the Society for Apostrophe Deprecation (SAD) to campaign for a dignified death for the archaic apostrophe.
Next week, “i before e except after c.” Tell it to their neighbours.