Thursday, March 26, 2009

PET PEEVE THURSDAY--Pity the poor apostrophe!

Today's guest is Jeffrey Cohen, the award-winning author of the Double Feature Mystery Series.

I absolutely despair over the decline in apostrophe Apostropheuse in America (and, I'm betting, all other English-speaking nations). An innocuous little piece of punctuation, the apostrophe is always willing to help, contracting phrases like "it is" into "it's" or, just to show off its versatility (notice how I did NOT use an apostrophe in that last "its?"), making a possessive out of just about any proper noun. All with one keystroke or a little swipe of the pen. Unassuming, eager to please. The apostrophe.

I teach a writing class at a major university when I'm not trying desperately to get people to read my novels, and even sometimes when I am. So I get to see the punctuation of college-level students whose parents are shelling out major bucks for them to learn, at least in part, writing. And I can tell you that the apostrophe is as endangered a species as the polar bear, and even Al Gore isn't crusading against the laziness that places it in jeopardy.

Personally, I blame text messaging. The need to be brief (or suffer thumb injuries, I assume) has Text messaging
given everyone license to write as if life were the title of a Prince song: "RU Ready 4 me?" Stuff like that. Try and find an apostrophe in a text message. But also, I don't think English teachers at the elementary and secondary levels are bothering with punctuation anymore. People are using apostrophes in words like "hers," where they're not needed, and not using them in words like "you're," where they are.

Pity the poor apostrophe. All it wanted was to help.

And what's bugging YOU today?
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Night at the operation
Jeffrey Cohen is the award-winning author of the Double Feature Mystery series. His current book, A Night At The Operation, is third in the series and available on April 7th. Check out Jeff's website. Jeff also blogs on Mondays at Hey,There's A Dead Guy In The Living Room (Mystery Publishing from Idea to Bookshelf).