Punctuate this!

Dear (few and far between) readers of this blog,

Punctuation is important. I will begin by having you read this article from the Globe and Mail (Toronto’s elitist newspaper) about the destruction of the English language by lazy Brits. It appears that people have decided that apostrophes – officially in proper names, but let’s face it, everywhere else – are just too hard to understand. “More importantly, they confuse people. If I want to go to a restaurant, I don’t want to have an A-level in English to find it.”

First of all, buddy, if you can’t find a restaurant because there is an apostrophe in the name then you’ve got bigger problems. But, it also seems to me that an “A-Level” in English (assuming not everyone has the ability to have an A-Level grasp of the language) should at least be based on an understanding of fancy words with difficult things like multiple syllables, not punctuation.

If the argument is that removing apostrophes from text makes it easier to understand, then the people who are making this decision clearly do not understand the purpose of an apostrophe. The apostrophe, like all punctuation, is to make language easier to understand. Yes, you can eliminate more “challenging” punctuation such as semi-colons, commas, and parentheses by writing simple, short sentences, but apostrophes are a whole different ballgame, folks.

The following is an explanation of the English language that you, my intelligent readers, do not need: Apostrophes denote possession or are used in contracting two words. If I eliminate the apostrophe in “It’s cool to read Lizz’s amazing blog” I have to use more words to say the same thing. Of course, what they are discussing in England is not eliminating the apostrophe to make the same point, but eliminating the apostrophe so you can assume the meaning of “Its cool to read Lizzs amazing blog”.

How can it be argued that removing an apostrophe makes a word easier to understand? Its and it’s, and kings and king’s, are entirely different words. Without the apostrophe we are left to guess at the meaning of the words in front of us. I know what shouldnt, couldnt and wouldnt mean (but think you’re a supreme idiot), and I even know what they mean when they use an apostrophe to make a plural (see the numerous women’s washroom signs that say lady’s), but I don’t immediately know what everything means.

The argument has been made that being the “grammar police” is elitist, but really it is just an example of our society becoming increasingly lazy and dependent on other people/things to think for them. Not to mention, making it a policy to eliminate difficult aspects of language rather than just teaching the rules properly lowers the standards for everyone. Yes, language changes. As a non-fan of Shakespeare, and a big fan of using “googling” and “facebook/ing/ed” as a verb, I am down with updating language where necessary. I am, however, not down with people who don’t know the difference. I can use colloquialisms for effect (or, let’s face it, to be obnoxious), but I know the difference (and if I don’t, I hope someone smacks me upside the head and points it out). Also, if you do not understand the purpose of an apostrophe in a word, you will not be able to understand that word any better when that apostrophe is removed. For the rest of us a missing apostrophe will start a whirlwind of confusion, discussion of intended meaning, and general rage and heartache.

So with that, I leave you with this link to another person’s blog who also cares enough to rant to an absent audience, and this link to the site of my dear friends at School House Rock (but don’t mention my name it won’t get you anywhere) to learn the values of conjunctions, interjections, and identifying nouns. When you’re done that, you should probably also learn about changing the constitution. It is unrelated to grammar, but related to world politics (sort of).


4 thoughts on “Punctuate this!

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