Blog Archives

My punctuation irritation

This blog has been trying, for a short while now, to dispense with apostrophes to see if they do indeed serve much of a purpose in a text. When I say purpose, the only purpose I see for punctuation is to aid understanding of said text for a reader. So I am not saying down with all punctuation.

I am saying that the use of punctuation is related to convention despite us being told it is all rule based. Actually, I would say that the use of all the little dots, squiggles and dashes in various combinations should only be to serve the text in which they live, and even then to not serve some notion of the writer, but as a kindness to the reader.

So, that being so, do I now think we need apostrophes? Well sometimes in the contracted form: well or we’ll for example but, really, not a lot. We can’t so much more often in our writing than we cant, that leaving out the apostrophe in place of the missing no is largely redundant. And the convention of possessive apostrophes are actually taken as law, one to be enforced wherein the illuminati can demonstrate their superiority over and, in the worse cases, to oppress the perceived illiterati (this is the ‘educated’ minority attempting to prevail over the majority you understand).

So much more useful these days are the emoticons of text and email writing. I am sure a skilled writer could make their meaning amply clear with a well constructed and unambiguous sentence, but we live in fast times and, far from being a lazy and overblown addition to a text, a quick 🙂 or 😉 or even 😛 helps the reader quickly decode the spirit in which they should be reading the message.

I confess I spent some time resisting the use of emoticons. But if you hang out long enough in the virtual world you begin to understand they aid speedy and effective communication far more than assiduous use of, say, apostrophes 8)

Life changes, communication changes, as we have moved on from making marks on cave walls, so punctuation should keep up.

nb This post was constructed with the reader in mind, but I think the punctuation still needs some work…

An experiment

Im getting rid of apostrophes for a while on the blog, for both possession and omission, or contraction if you prefer.

Im expecting theres going to be a huge hue and cry about this, but consider yourself part of a project, potentially for the higher good.

The argument for their usage is that they aid meaning, and, thats true. But do they actually hinder understanding? I would like to propose the motion: perhaps not as much as we think…

Education should not be about the oppression of others after all. So, for now, Ive set the apostrophes free. If you see them scampering down the road, having a pint in the pub, cheering a goal at the football, fret ye not. They have instructions and theyll be back before you know it.

They’ve begged, they’ve pleaded…

I accept no other illustrations!

I accept no other illustrations!

… but I’ll put good money on their entreaties coming without an apostrophe. So this evening the lucky, lucky people will get it – the mysteries of the apostrophe.

I am thinking of wearing two hats to the class, literally. One is an ugly ear-flapped, be-peaked job that will stay on in the stiffest of winds and keep your head warm and dry – I think it is known as a “mountain cap” and is by one of those gung-ho outdoorsy European manufacturers. Apparently it makes me the absolute spit of Elmer Fudd. The other is a straw confection (not straw as in scarecrow, but as in milliner) that I took to the Oaks but left in the car, it being a difficult enough job rushing from paddock to winning post and back again without weighing yourself down like the Quangle Wangle Quee.

The point being an apostrophe does the job of two hats; one for possession and one for ommission.

Let’s hope they get it 😉