Apostrophe Catastrophe

Now, anyone with a fundamental understandment of grammar gets irritated by the misuse of apostrophes. Not so much in e-mails and the more informal methods of communication - Christ, let's not be Nazis about it - but incorrect signs and newspaper headlines tend to bring about incredulous tutting and shakings of the head.

Yet there is a new apostrophe menace in town. I've noticed it spreading like some kind of disease, over the last year or so.

The use of apostrophes for emphasis.

Have you seen it? When people 'really' want to emphasise a word, they use apostrophes instead of underlining, italicising or putting asterisks before and after it. It's thoroughly mental.

Today, I saw the very zenith of apostrophe-for-emphasis crime. A magazine, on a shop shelf, with the following cover line:


It was simultaneously terrible and hilarious to see a magazine unwittingly taking the piss out of itself.

I've quite simply had 'enough' of this damn-fool craze. Do you hear me? 'Do you'?

PS I deliberately used a non-existent word in this post. It started off as a typo, but when I came to correct it, I found I liked it. What fun.


Dave said...

I use ‘this’ so much, I’m thinking of having it permanently typo-grafted onto my name.

PS. The word verification spelt out 'CHANT'. So I did.

William Gallagher said...

I wonder if they're seeing it the way we all appear to see quotes in pieces, that they add tremendously to copy.

The way bunging quote marks around any random 20 words in a 100-word news story and you improve it. Maybe these people aren't seeing this as a pair of apostrophes but as one set of single quote marks.

I do agree with you, and I hear it too, that tone these things have. The unwitting, unknown sarcasm. Ace. Annoying, but a bit entertaining.


William Gallagher said...

Forgot to say, I like understandment too.

Tom Murphy said...

The buildings and facility bod at my last job used to do this all the time - so we'd have to clear our 'desks' so they could be 'cleaned' over the 'weekend'. It was nearly uncomprehendable sometimes.

I'm sure you've come across this, but in case you haven't: http://quotation-marks.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Shame on you sir for harassing innocent 'apostrophes'. What harm have they ever done you?

Your unjustified attacks show an appalling lack of understandment.

Keep this up and grammatically incorrect 'persons' will be attacking you in the street with their 'handbags'.

Schiell - word verification - means an inappropriate hatred of apostrophes. LOL

Anonymous said...

Whenever I see apostrophes used like this, I think of Stephen Fry doing his little rabbit-ears-with-his-fingers-to-indiciate-quotation-marks. Or doing his 'little rabbit ears with his fingers to indicate quotation marks'.

I'm terrible for using 'apostrophes' for emphasis. I have to make a point of going through things I've written to take them out and 'italicise' instead.

Phill Barron said...


From now on, every time I use a pair of apostrophes to 'emphasise' something I will do so 'secure' in the knowledge it 'really' pisses you off.

Jason Arnopp said...

Dave: Thank you for 'chanting'.

Lord Gallagher: I really don't know 'what' these people are seeing.

Tom: Hadn't seen that. Cheers!

JR: I am chastened and 'bowed', sir.

Jonny: I'm terrible for writing a load of old rubbish. I then have to go back over everything and replace the 'bad' stuff with 'good' stuff.

Baron Barron: There was one 'caveat' I should have mentioned. If the person doing the 'apostremphasis' (nah, that'll never catch on) has the initials PB, it has the opposite effect and absolutely delights me. So Potdoll's fine too, because her surname is Bazooomka.

Piers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Piers said...

Damn it. Now I really want to apostroemphasize, in order to bring you delight.

But I just can't bring myself to do it.


Jason Arnopp said...

Come on, PB. Just one. Just 'one'.

Piers said...

I have a solution that may work.

I think that apostroemphasizing is 'great'.

See? It wasn't actually apostroemphasis. It was scarequotery. But you can pretend it was, and thus be made happy.

Does that help?

Oli said...

I used to work in a hotel where the list of tasks tacked to the wall included "give the restaurant a 'good clean'".

Assuming they meant it ironically, I never did it.