Kill the apostrophe!

Youve got to read James Harbecks essay, “Kill the Apostrophe!,” appearing in The Week this week. (“The Week this week”? That certainly sounds odd. Oh, well.) After reading it, youll be convinced, as I was, that apostrophes should just go away. Many of the commenters, of course, are prescriptivist peevers who arent ever going to be convinced, largely because they practice “unthinking superstition,” in Harbecks words. Part of the problem, I believe, is that most people erroneously believe that language is written language. They think that speech is a way of “pronouncing” whats written, even though in fact its the other way around: writing is actually a way of representing speech. I dont mean that its a transcription, of course, as representations are rarely as literal as transcriptions. All these people who think that omitting apostrophes will hinder understanding have to explain how we can communicate with each other in speech, where none of the apostrophes are heard.

Check out the Kill the Apostrophe website for more information.

PS: I stole the idea of omitting all apostrophes in this post from Harbecks essay. Also, at his invitation, Ive borrowed the button and text below.

Lets discard the apostrophe. Its pointless.

Categories: Linguistics