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Shell Shocked: The Battle between the Apostrophe and the Exclamation Point

March 29, 2012
Art Stevens , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

This is National Apostrophe Appreciation month. There aren't too many scholars who truly appreciate the magnificence of apostrophes and what they allow you to do in speaking and writing English.

In fact we tend to take apostrophes for granted. First off they're so small. This is what one looks like: '. Now how could a symbol that takes nine letters to define it apostrophe be so small and unintimidating?

But apostrophes make speaking and writing so much easier. Instead of saying "I could not," you can merely say "I couldn't." Instead of saying "It was the night before Christmas," you can shorten the sentence by saying "twas the night before Christmas."

But exclamation points hate apostrophes. They consider them classless, crude, unimaginative and unnecessary. Exclamation points --! aren't used often, but when they are they want to be sure you are sufficiently hit over the head to understand that an important point is being made!

Now you might wonder if apostrophes and exclamation points clash when English words are formed into a sentence. It's very likely! The sentence just used is a good example of how they clash. The exclamation point wanted the sentence to read "It is very likely!"

But the apostrophe preferred "It's very likely." -- with a period and not an exclamation point. Apostrophes and exclamation points often debate their relative value to the language and the temperature certainly rises when they do.

Apostrophe: You're a useless appendage. You have no value. All you do is attempt to lull the reader out of boredom by adding your not very attractive closing symbol - !. Your symbol can't make a dull sentence exciting. Here's an example: He slipped on the ice!. A mere period would suffice. You're just irrelevant and unnecessary.

Exclamation point: You apostrophes, in turn, tantalize writers to believe that there are shortcuts to proper language. Contractions are the shortcut to nihilism. All scholars know that. Isn't it more elegant to say "could not" than "couldn't"? "Couldn't" sounds like you're gargling with Epsom salt. Contractions should be limited to pregnant women not to language. Besides, you look so puny compared to syllables and vowels. Look at you '. You're hardly visible. The reader needs special glasses to even see that you're on a page.

A. And you, sir, look more like salami than a symbol of language. My role is to provide relaxation to the written and spoken word. Can you image a young man proposing to his lady of choice by saying "Would you not marry me?" That's antiquated language and certainly not in keeping with contemporary acid rock. He would prefer that his proposal glide over his tongue in a more relaxed and intimate way. "Won't you marry me?" is what he should be saying and the apostrophe will ensure that she gets his message and responds with a mighty "yes, I will."

E. Apostrophes don't understand matters of grave importance and urgency. You're so small that you just can't get the attention that an exclamation point can. When I close a sentence that says: "Fire, fire, everyone leave the building!", you can see how important the exclamation point is. It tells the reader that no one is kidding around, that there's no ambiguity in the meaning of the sentence. But an apostrophe is the lazy man's way of writing and speaking. In fact, I just used an apostrophe when I said "man's way". There is no escaping an apostrophe when used in the possessive, but my fellow exclamation points and I will shun its use in all other situations. You apostrophes are catastrophes.

And they went on and on a fight to the death. Who will win the little apostrophe or the bold exclamation point? I believe the common comma will have something to say about that.

 
 

 

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