Apparently, apostrophes are so maddening that we may do away with them altogether. As early as 1891, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names banished the apostrophe from most place-names. The year 2001 saw the establishment of the Apostrophe Protection Society. Today articles regularly appear, warning about the demise of the apostrophe. Some blame schools for not teaching children how to use it correctly, while others blame texting or graphic artists (who supposedly prefer a clean layout, free of extraneous punctuation). There's even a website called Kill the Apostrophe.
Eliminating the apostrophe doesn't seem like a viable option to me. Beyond the obvious confusion that will result between "were" and "we're" or "he'll" and "hell," there's the pressing question of what all the O'Neills of the world will do. I also want to know what other punctuation symbol will take up the slack because the humble apostrophe does a staggering amount of work. Apostrophes indicate:
- Singular possessive (neighbor's tree)
- Plural possessive (neighbors' yards)
- Plural possessive not ending in "s" (men's room, children's playground)
- Quantity (a week's worth, in an hour's time)
- Plurals of alphabet letters and plurals that refer to a word itself (so "B's" on a report card and "do's and don'ts" but plurals of acronyms and dates like "URLs" and "1990s" don't use apostrophes)
- Missing letters
So maybe getting rid of apostrophes is the answer . . .
Now that weve disposed of them, check back for next weeks post when well ...
Nope, that doesn't work either. I guess we're stuck with them.