Apostrophobia ... N. an Expaggerated or Irrational Dislike of Misplaced Apostrophes: Hyper-Punctuation? Keith Davidson Considers the Pro(')s and Con(')s of Writing's Little Helper

By Davidson, Keith | English Drama Media, March 2010 | Go to article overview

Apostrophobia ... N. an Expaggerated or Irrational Dislike of Misplaced Apostrophes: Hyper-Punctuation? Keith Davidson Considers the Pro(')s and Con(')s of Writing's Little Helper


Davidson, Keith, English Drama Media


From time to time we get little fits of this sort of thing:

'saddo'

There have been few changes at Zippos, but though the excellent band is no more, I was strangely (because in the outside world it would drive me bonkers) heartened to see that much of the "Zippos Circus" signage remains untroubled by apostrophes, even incorrectly applied, though obviously only a deeply troubled saddo would come to a circus to tut-tut over crimes against punctuation ...

Kathryn Flett, The Observer (20 September 2009)

... the advert wasn't howlingly bad ... it was a more picky kind of mistake ... "There's so many to choose from" and the "s" after the apostrophe had been replaced by an "re" which is technically correct, the full sentence rightly being: "There are so many ...", not: "There is" and, actually, "there're is a pretty ugly construction. But, still, some ... had stood up on the tube, and sub-edited a wrong advert.

Pedants ... can go too far ...

But, by and large, it's surely immensely better, isn't it, to err on the side of getting things right rather than to miscommunicate, and boast your ignorance, and lazily confuse? And now, delightfully, graffitists with perfect grasps of syntax are getting in on the act. Things are looking up ...

Euan Ferguson, 'Man your apostrophes, my friends, and support the pedants' revolt', The Observer, (13 December 2009) [But note some inconsistent use of commas, found wanting or redundant.]

Cheerful weekend journalism, of course, trivial enough in context but in the journalistic line of 'The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation': Keith Waterhouse, Bill Bryson, John Humphrys, Lynne Truss ... as if these are the things that really matter.

'pedants' revolt'

Birmingham City Council is wet, cowardly, solecistic and philistine to abolish apostrophes on its street signs.

... Punctuation continually changes, like all language. But it should wait for a consensus. Unilateral destruction by a council, even one so eminent, is linguistic vandalism.

Philip Howard, The Times (30 January 2009)

Exasperated by living in a street where the language signage shows a cavalier disregard for punctuation, Stefan Gatward has been painting apostrophes on to the signs of "St Johns Close", in Tunbridge Wells [no less!], so that they announce "St John's Close".

... "The trouble is that some teachers don't know how to use grammar properly, so children don't either. Local authorities just don't bother," he said.

... "I fought for the preservation of our heritage and our language but some people seem happy to let that go. I'm not."

Chrys Smyth, The Times (18 August 2009)

Note the vituperative language, and your fault as ever! But what is this 'heritage'?

For instance, Goats' cheese tart--did the menu really need that apostrophe, and after the <-s> in any case? In principle just a noun phrase, comprising a compound noun in which the first element is itself an embedded compound noun: [goat(s)+cheese]+tart. So what has a possessive apostrophe got to do with it? No doubt prompted by the plural <-s> inflexion, it marks the item as a possessive pre-modifier of a following nominal component, perhaps a quite different compound: goats'+[cheese+tart] ('cheese tart for goats'!). If you must have an apostrophe here that would be to mark the intended pre-modifying compound, as singular since we're not talking about cheeses: *[goat(s)+cheese]+'s tart. But that's not what you'd say! But then, just to confuse things, there's sheep's milk kefalotiri ... in which, since sheep has no plural inflexion, the <-s> must be a genetive inflexion and marked according to the singular placing rule (as below). So perhaps it's goat's cheese manchego ..., after all, and cow's milk mozzarella in lieu of buffalo's[?] milk ... They're all marked thus as singluar throughout my cheese book, though, as count nouns, goat, cow and buffalo do take plural inflexions, and we're not talking about cheeses from the milk of single animals. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Apostrophobia ... N. an Expaggerated or Irrational Dislike of Misplaced Apostrophes: Hyper-Punctuation? Keith Davidson Considers the Pro(')s and Con(')s of Writing's Little Helper
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.