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Saturday, June 18, 2005

You Gonna DropThe Apostrophe? Yeah-but-no-but.

Kate Burridge, professor of linguistics at Monash University in Australia, has just written a book entitled Weeds in the Garden of Words: Further Observations on the Tangled History of the English Language. Think of it as an anti-Truss manifesto: this author calls for the dropping of the apostrophe, the embracing of euphemisms and non-grammatical expressions such as "yeah-but-no-but" and new, on-the-street usage.

As she points out in this article: "Today's weeds - non-grammatical expressions and pronunciations - are often rewarding garden species if left to grow. The words Samuel Johnson described as low usage and cant, such as novel, bamboozle and capture, are now totally conventional. E-mail chat over the internet is a kind of speech written down, it has loosened the straitjacket effect to language that writing had. For example, the word 'gonna', as opposed to 'going to', is a marker of future time to replace 'will'."

The reaction -- from some quarters, at least -- has been extreme: "When I suggested on radio that the possessive apostrophe should be dropped from the language because people get it wrong so often, you would have thought that a public flogging would not have been a severe enough punishment. I received hate mail, and letters from the apostrophe support group, though not all of them used the apostrophe correctly."

Hmm. Must be the same bunch who've been leaving offensive comments all over Indian bloggers' sites these days.


  • No no, the apostrophe shouldn't go.

    *sheds a bitter tear*

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:37 PM  

  • This blogger, at least, shall heed your advice. :)

    By Blogger PrufrockTwo, at 8:38 AM  

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