April 7, 2009

R.I.P. Apostrophe

I admit--I'm one of those nerds who reads things EXACTLY as they're written. If you leave out a comma or misconjugate a verb or, heaven forbid, omit an apostrophe, I will stare blankly at the page. Lost. It will sound like total gibberish in my head. I can't help it. Punctuation is intuitive to me (unlike spelling, unfortunately), and those tiny writing road signs guide me to what you're trying to say. Pull out a sign or stick it in the wrong place and you're setting me up for a mental crash.

But I'm in the minority. And a tiny minority at that.

How do you argue with "I just don't like how it looks"? I mean, I can pull out my style guide and point to the paragraph that clearly states, nice and simply, how a dash is needed between two adjectives that describe a noun, or an apostrophe comes after a collective possessive s--and not to pluralize. It's right there, in black and white. But no, you insist, it just doesn't look nice.

So, after my 3rd email attempt to explain the rules and how they're important and how they help people understand what you're trying to say and that clear communication is important, I finally give up. The AE is giving me her understanding-but-exasperated look. The client is slowly losing patience with the muddled look that is my poor dash, my battle-wary apostrophe. And so I grunt. And I sniff. And I cave.

Goodbye "8 months' free service". Hello, unintelligible.


  1. you must be a Lynn Truscott fan then, yes?

  2. I mean Lynne Truss.
    What came over me?
    Who is Lynn Truscott?
    Probably a dime store floozie.

  3. Seeing the back cover of Eats, Shoots and Leaves--where Lynn Truss is taking a marker to the horrible "Two Weeks Notice" movie poster--was vindication for my sister telling me "For the love of God, no one CARES!" when the movie first came out.

    Well, small vindication... Floozie.

  4. Stumbled here from geo's sight after reading some comments and checking out what kind of people are posting.

    Loved reading that snip about your billing sheet.

    I've been preaching the merits of Brother Where Art Thou for a while and asked for it for my birthday last month.

    Going to have to come back for sure now that I see someone who knows what that movie is.

    Feel free to re-punctuate my comment.

  5. Best movie ever, Jeff. "You're a geographical anomaly--you're 2 weeks from everything!" is the best line ever, too.

    No worries about comment punctuation. It's proofing "stets" that drive me insane. Punctuation isn't supposed to be pretty, people!