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Without an Apostrophe, I No Longer Exist

If we eliminate apostrophes from language, what will happen to all the people with the tiny marks in their names?


First, it was The End of Two Spaces Between Periods. Then it was The End of Email Sign-Offs. And now it's The End of Apostrophes. Written by Matthew J.X. Malady, Slate's latest English language/human communication screed "Are Apostrophe's Necessary?" is answered by its subhed: "Not really, no."

And now, with the Internet, putting an apostrophe on a billing address or a delivery address can cause all sorts of problems.

Malady then goes on to talk about the history of the apostrophe, the controversies it has caused, and both the people fighting for and against its continued existence. Yes, these people are apparently real and apparently serious. The post is interesting, as it highlights all the contradictions within the English language and how we've managed to deal with them over the years by using our human brains. The main takeaway, I think, is that the English language is pretty dumb and convoluted, compared to so many others. Calling for the end to apostrophes is more just a specific way to highlight that than anything else.

But calling for the end of a apostrophes is also a sinister act directed at a small section of the population with apostrophes in their first or last names. (People the story fails to address.) Without apostrophes, I, Ryan O'Hanlon, would no longer exist. The menace of "Kill the Apostophe" must be stopped.

Honestly, there are advantages to having an apostrophe in your name, but I do not know what they are. In elementary school, I'd get in line with the "H's" when we had to organize in alphabetical order, only to be shunned away because that weird "O" was actually part of my name. (I have no meaningful relationships with h-last-names any longer. It's just too difficult.) Then, there's the impossibility of spelling your name over the phone. It should be clear from the way you pronounce it that the "O" is separated, but maybe it's not. So, do you say "apostrophe" when spelling it out, or do you just hope the person on the other end of the line figures it out—or do you just resign to the fact that no one actually cares? It's an existential crisis, really. And now, with the Internet, putting an apostrophe on a billing address or a delivery address can cause all sorts of problems. I am not Ryan W. O. Hanlon. That is not me, magazine who will remain nameless. And to the Google Analytics computer-coding system that was unable to register my first two weeks of work at Pacific Standard, you are a robot, and if you want to be human one day, you must also be fallible, so this is a good start.

Despite all of that, though, this is my existential crisis. These are all things that happened to me—and these are all similar things that have surely happened to others with what Cormac McCarthy called "weird little marks" in their names. It's annoying, sure—but really not all that annoying, I mean, read that last paragraph again—but it's a weird little mark of who you are. Apostophes may be a scourge to some, but to others, they're a necessary one.

So, to quote that guy from The Wire—and the 30-year-old, self-proclaimed "most awesome dude here" I saw shotgun a beer at a U.S.-versus-Spain soccer game: "My name's my name."