IDEA THIRTY-THREE: No More Apostrophes

In the age of of IM and Twitter, the apostrophe is just one more superfluous character that could be used for something else. Context tells us when we come across it that 99 times out of 100 "cant" means "can't", the contraction of can not, and not an old school form of worship singing. As for showing possession, I propose that we rid ourselves of the apostrophe as an attempt to move past all of that. Why is there this constant need to own something? Isnt it telling that we choose to communicate using sentences with words that own other words? It would seem that our western capitalism is being reinforced on an infinitesimal level in the space between the letters we use in our words. And if u try to make the argument that the rules* of grammar dont have any direct effect on daily life, just try speaking to a little kid in Dutch or Spanish using the formal "you"--they will look at you like youre nuts, while an old man, on the other hand, might get peeved if you address him using an informal "you"...

Language is something we mold AND are molded by...a languages grammar is like the BIOS underneath the OS on your laptop...its an invisible system of commands, the fucking around with which could equal the meltdown of the entire system or else a possible dramatic boost in performance.

We live in the age of the mash-up, when its not about buying something as much as its about subsuming it and making it a part of what you already are.

Once you get in the habit of subsuming and not CONSUMING that which is Other, you start learning how to see yrself in other things, hence, slowly diluting the entire notion of the Self and the Other so that they are always already less distinct from one another, and more obviously parts of the same whole.

Whats more, not only do you see yrself in other people, and in other things...but those people and things start unveiling other people and things that you never expected, things that change the way you understand other things...

(Things that change yr grammar.)

Its a lot like blogging. You have an idea and u get on yr innernet and search and read and run a google image search and yr idea changes, it grows, like an empty bag that you fill with things you gather.

Instead of plot and character, the innernet generation thinks in terms of posts and content.

*I know that there are those out there such as the members of The Apostrophe Preservation Society and nk who will argue with me that there is a beauty to the rules of grammar similar to that of mathematical proofs and music composition--a rarefied sense of sanctity to be had when one does everything the way one is "supposed" to. While Im a firm believer that in order to properly rebel against something one should attempt to first fully understand the nature of that which they are overthrowing, I do believe that the time comes when misuse starts down the bumpy road towards acceptance, and its up to societys thinkers to identify and perhaps embrace these paradigm shifts as being the essence of what we used to refer to as "progress".

The more information we have to try and take in, the more we need to communicate, in order to engage with networks that will digest large chunks of information for us. It requires a lot of typing (often with thumbs) in order to keep our relationship with our innernet active and fresh. We need something faster than contractions, something even shorter and more to the point.


Blogger heather said...

perhaps the most miraculous thing about grammar--in any language--is that its a living organism, a network of specialized systems in constant dialogue with its user-creators. to truly understand it, to live inside its awesome logic, is (as you very rightly point out) to allow oneself to be empowered, rather than threatened, by its mutability.

but like everything else that has the potential to reveal the false divide between Self and Other, grammar historically has been a site for authoritarian narratives. while our preservationist friends cant be blamed for feeling reverent then, their static piety (like most piety) undoes the most magical elements of the very thing they sanctify.

fortunately for us and our language, though, the shapeshifting nature of grammar will always, always win out--when users have no need for the apostrophe, it will first be elided and then, eventually, eliminated--an evolution already well underway. do we need the style guides to follow us? maybe not: not only are we much more efficient, we (and the grammar we collectively shepherd) never needed their impositions in the first place. when they become archivists instead of preservationists, when they value the process of grammar over its products--and they *will* do this one day--we will have much better, well, *use* for them.

1:36 PM  
Blogger nk said...

I would never say that you have to know the conventions before you properly rebel. There is no proper way to rebel; to rebel is to unbind yourself from normative constraints. And so do what you like. If you want to start substituting vowels or inverting brackets, go ahead. (Perhaps that best reflects your set of attitudes.) But do not expect your code to be preserved for posterity.

What irks me most about your proposal is that it presents its case is if its only negative consequence is peeving off prescriptive grammarians. That simply is not true. There are more. There is also what I take to be the unacceptable consequence of having our works losing its audience over time -- not because that audience refuses to read anything that does not conform to the Oxbridge grammar, but because they do not have the ken to understand your unconventional idiolect.

These thoughts are influenced by this.

3:09 PM  
Blogger TRUE said...

hi heather, hi nk.

i agree that "we" are much more efficient than the beholders of style guides, in that we are able to act quickly, because we're not weighed down by convention. i think tho, that the "we" u and i have in mind is in reality a not very large "we": bigger than it realizes but definitely a minority. im interested in ways of making it a majority and often approaching things from that angle...i derno if u catch my drift...?

nk: what are the other negative consequences that you refer to?

i dont expect people in the future to read me just like folks dont crack open Chaucer on the train and dive into some other level english. the MEANING of what i wrote will still exist. it always has and it always will.

12:05 PM  
Blogger TRUE said...

see? (last comment) i still hit the apostrophe key. im a creature of habit, like everyone else.

i just wanna push it along. like in that tribe song. thats the whole point of this blog. to have ideas and get peeps thinkin and having their own ideas...and then making stuff. writing stuff. playing stuff.

12:07 PM  
Blogger heather said...

im not totally sure what you imagine by "we" or what you thought i meant. but i was referring to *all* the user/speakers of any branch/dialect of english--i think all of us have the potential to transform the language. certainly some of us have more socioeconomic power than others, but most of the shifts in spoken english of the last 20 years are not the work of the traditionally powerful.

10:57 AM  

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