Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Apostrophe's must go!

Today's Telegraph and last night's Newsnight have features on that old friend of ours (why not our's?): the apostrophe.

Why does this punctuation mark exist? How come about 50% of the population can't use it properly? Should we just say "pah" and get rid of it? The Newsnight link is very good as it's got a 4 minute of Jeremy Paxman and David Crystal discussing its (why not it's?) history and use. And, it has to be said, it's a slightly more enlightening interview than Paxman's one with Dizzee Rascal last week.

There's more about this debate here on The Register and here on the linguist, John Wells' excellent blog (scroll down to Friday 3rd for this). It's John Wells, of course, who kicked off this particular round of apostrophe uproar with his call to get rid of the apostrophe as part of a more straightforward system of spelling and punctuation (covered here and here).

It's all part of the prescriptivist versus descriptivist debate which features in ENA5 Language Change.

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