Tuesday, November 23, 2010

On Language and "Ode to an Apostrophe"

Oh Apostrophe,
Thou art full of glory and splendour.

How grand you shine,
(thinly veiled rhyme)
as you substitute V for e'er.

For what would don't be
omitting just thee,
but a do and a not? 'Tis true.

And could've, would've,
should've, might've, must've,
all exist because of you.

Thou art not limited,
to language inhibited,
and it's this I'll love all my days.

Possibilities boundless,
in you letters soundless,
like nor'easter takes a T and an H.

For what can I do
but cave in and misuse
our infinite array of words?

How much can be said,
with a nod of the head,
or a ' and a ' and a '?

Most noblest of symbols,
how other ones tremble
in your presence they quake and they cower.

You hang in the air,
'twixt letters, how dare
anyone think they have power

O'er you?  For you are alone,
ensconced on your throne,
until eternity unravels.

And then when it does,
with a bang and a buzz,
to you all dead letters travel.

And as they begin
to chop, twist, and blend
together after catastrophe,

You'll create something new,
what else would you do
my forever, lovely Apostrophe?

So I was thinking about words and how I string them together to make sentences.  Then I was thinking about letters and how I string them together to make words.  Then I was thinking about the apostrophe and how it sometimes replaces letters and I was wondering what it's limits were.  I mean, in shorthand, there are no practical limitations, right?  I abbreviate government as gov't to this day.  There I'm eliminating six letters.  How horrible, I think.

And then there's 'ere and e'er.  I love these two words.  They're beautiful sounding and perfect in function.  And the My Morning Jacket song lyric everything'd be great/ everything'd be good/ if everybody gave/ as everybody should.  How awesome of a word is everything'd

Plus, when we speak, we throw around apostrophes like nothing.  I suppose this could be a regional phenomenon, varying with location, but still, I'd argue that each brogue has its own clipped words.  And I daresay none would disagree with me.

But this has got me wondering, can an apostrophe substitute more than just letters?  What about entire words?  Could a writer remove all the supplementary text and just leave the meat and potatoes?  And who the heck would wanna read it if they did?  I, for one, love the constant changing English language.  Its rules are baffling and abused, but I'm of the opinion that if a writer can successfully do so, then they have the power to do it, so long as it makes sense.  For what are words but things that have power because we collectively give them power?  What would the apostrophe be if folks stopped using it?

Just for fun, I tried speaking without contracted words the other day.  I didn't last very long.  It's too ingrained in my vernacular, I suppose.  Just thinking out loud.

Note:   I'm not saying I'm for the cutting down of words and letters to get an abbreviated society.  This, I fear, would be a dreadful mistake.  Personally, I loathe internet language.  Things like LOL and BRB drive me crazy.  When I get a text message written in complete disregard to the rules, I scratch my head and try to understand.  I believe that George Orwell's predicted newspeak from Nineteen Eighty-Four is the very textual way we communicate now.  I strive my best to refrain from this, and to respond to these types of messages with complete sentences.  Of course, from time to time, I succumb and need to save myself 1.3 seconds of typing by using an abbreviation.  Still, for the most part, this sort of thing drives me up the metaphorical wall.


Krista said...

Okay so this whole post right down to the side note had me rollin'! ha!

I don't know, but I love a good abbreviated word if it fits right... but, by no means, would I want it to take over completely like an invasion of stupid! ha!

When I'm texting though I abbreviate as much as possible, but only because I hate sending a ton of texts!

Cool post, Logan!

I'm over half way through The Warded Man. It's been good since the first page no doubt. I'm just anxiously awaiting a griping climax... So is this 2nd book you speak of out in paperback, too? I only hope so, because my coin purse is a little light these days! lol!

As for Sandersons The Way Of Kings toping Mistborn will definitely be hard to do. That is the reason I say "possibly" the best, because I haven't even begun to see the potential of this series. I don't know, its hard for me to compare his books to one another, though. I love each of them, and they've all been a big inspiration as to why I even read in the first place. Sanderson has got me out of a few book ruts, thats for sure. I have passed his name on to anyone I catch reading! I've even re-bought several books just to lend them away not even caring if I ever get 'em back! I just want everyone in the world to know his awesomeness! ha ha! There's no doubt in my mind that Sanderson IS my favorite author. :)

logankstewart said...

Thank you kindly. Or maybe I should just say ' and hope you get the idea...

Sadly, the sequel, The Desert Spear, is only in hardback right now, but I checked it out from the library, and I'm sure yours would have it. But, man, isn't Peter Brett's world fascinating? The demons that come out every night and how terrible they are? I loved it. That book was another fresh wave of some class action fantasy, and I'm enjoying the second quite a bit, too.

Krista said...

Yeah, I really like his style of demon-Relentless beasts. I get totally into his world... I'm currently Arlen in the ruins of Anoch Sun in danger of the demons rising but too mesmerized by what I see that there's no way I'm running... how cool! :) Well, gotta get back to my reading

Happy Thanksgiving!