Sunday, April 01, 2012
How Hideous is the Semi-Colon
CITIZENRY: Greetings Apostrophe Man, only resident superhero of Newland Avenue, Hull!
APOSTROPHE MAN: Greetings citizens, what appears to be the problem?
CITIZENRY: This man has been hit by the number 115 bus and is bleeding to death!
APOSTROPHE MAN: The rules governing the use of the possessive, though frequently encountering popular resistance, are nevertheless simple to grasp and once learned never forgotten!
CITIZENRY: Do something, Apostrophe Man!
APOSTROPHE MAN: ‘Hi’s and Her’s’, though potentially referring to the first name ‘Hi’ and the title of a novel by Hilda Doolittle (H.D.), HER (short for Hermione), is almost universally best left in the form ‘His and Hers’!
MAN HIT BY BUS: Uhhhhhhhh.
APOSTROPHE MAN: Though not without comedy value, and capable of being construed to mean ‘the trees belonging to a woman who used to be my mother (but for some reason no longer is)’, the phrase ‘Xma’s Trees’ is strongly to be discouraged!
CITIZENRY: Turn back time and save this dying man, Apostrophe Man!
APOSTROPHE MAN: Popular resistance to the possessive case, common sense would suggest, should logically take the form of eliminating the apostrophe altogether rather than sticking it in any and everywhere! Thus, ‘the homeless mans dogs smelly breath’ rather than, for instance, ‘apple’s and orange’s and pear’s’!
CITIZENRY: Do something fast, Apostrophe Man!
APOSTROPHE MAN: Though ultimately there is no accounting for how the popular mind will respond to pedantic hectoring from a part-time superhero dressed in a not very impressive cape and with a floppy apostrophe on his head!
CITIZENRY: Thanks, Apostrophe Man!
APOSTROPHE MAN: Thank you! But won’t somebody do something for this poor man? He looks like he needs medical attention, and fast!