Are Apostrophes Necessary? Not really, no.


From Slate:

For several decades, writers, scholars, and language rabble-rousers have been suggesting that apostrophes are perhaps less necessary than we might suspect. Such thinking is anathema to the surprisingly large (and unsurprisingly vocal) subset of the population that gets genuinely fired up about apostrophes and their misuse. (As linguist Arnold Zwicky has noted on his blog, apostrophe mistakes are “high on the list of things people peeve about.”)

But the anti-apostrophe brigade has an impressive intellectual pedigree. Take George Bernard Shaw. The author and playwright at some point decided to use apostrophes in contractions only when failing to do so would create a different, familiar word, or homograph—I’ll and Ill, for instance. In 1902, he wrote of apostrophes, “There is not the faintest reason for persisting in the ugly and silly trick of peppering pages with these uncouth bacilli.”

The number of bloggers and websites suggesting that we get rid of the apostrophe for good has increased dramatically in recent years—and their position is not taken up as some sort of joke. Those who maintain the Kill the Apostrophe website, for instance, take this stuff seriously. The site’s manifesto notes that the apostrophe “serves only to annoy those who know how it is supposed to be used and to confuse those who dont.” It asserts that apostrophes are redundant, wasteful, snobbish, and anachronistic in an era of text messaging. Apostrophes “consume considerable time and resources” and, according to the website, “Tremendous amounts of money are spent every year by businesses on proof readers, part of whose job it is to put apostrophes in the ‘correct’ place—to no semantic effect whatsoever.” We’d all be “better off without em.”

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