27 October 2010

Throw him a line why don't you?

Has the time come for the end of the apostrophe?
I'm a grammar Nazi.  I'm a proud grammar Nazi.  It's something that's quite easy to be in this day and age.  You only have to search any site that allows comments from people to realise how easy it is to be a grammar Nazi.  Increasingly though, I'm being made to feel that, being a grammar Nazi, is a bad, bad thing.

I'm all for English evolving.  The last thing I want to do is stand in the way of words.  The last thing I really want to do even, is stand in the way of grammar.  I mean, just check out how I've worded the last sentence.  Better men than me have put forth the case that jumping on people's grammar is a poor substitute for self expression.  And I think they're right.  But I just can't let go of some things that make writing what it is. 

One of these, is the apostrophe.  It's the little ' you use, so you don't have to write do not.  Or it is.  Or you are.  It makes writing simpler. It makes writing fun. But it's increasingly being devalued.

How many times have we read someone making a statement that starts 'your wrong you know?'  Or 'dont worry about it,' or even, 'I just cant do it.'  You know what they're trying to say.  You can read it and interpret it but, is that really the point?  Doesn't reading that make your eyes and brain hurt?  I read some articles and it's like I'm trying to read a foreign language. 

But is this just something that's my problem?  Because I'm over 40, I've gone through the school system when it was still important to teach kids how to spell and construct a sentence.  These days, it's obviously not so much.  And, I'm not talking about text slang - that's a completely different topic that I'm actually fine with.  Let's just keep it to phones ok?  I'm talking about actual writing of the language so that's it's readable and clearly understood.  How do people learn English these days?  And I'm not just talking about kids, I'm talking about those who use English as a foreign language.  Are they taught about apostrophe's?  Are they taught how to construct a sentence? 

I don't want things set in stone.  English is the most mutable language in the world; the last thing I want is for that to change.  But don't try to stop me being a grammar Nazi either.  I think some things are worth preserving.  And I think proper use of the apostrophe is one.