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Niblet Publishing

Occasional Observation #97

At the moment, the apostrophe and the men’s necktie seem to be vying, rather fiercely, for the honour of being first to achieve extinction. One need only watch an hour of television to see how many men, even those at the top levels of business and government, have come to eschew the cravat on most occasions. And one need only read an issue or two of the average newspaper or magazine to see how rare proper use of the apostrophe has become, even in publications supposedly appealing to educated readers. Just as it has become “Necktie optional” for most men, most of the time, it has become or is at least becoming “Apostrophe optional” in much writing–particularly headlines.

I still own over two dozen neckties, with at least half a dozen bow ties thrown in for good measure. That there are limited opportunities to wear them doesn’t bother me a bit. Between 1959, when I went off to an infamous New England boarding school which required ties on a daily basis, and, say, 2002, I wore ties far more often than I would have liked. Now I’m quite content to leave them for ceremonial occasions (such as our recent book launch) or for use on stage. The apostrophe is another matter altogether. Let coffee chains, stores, and restaurants be as cavalier as they like about using or not using this particular mark of punctuation. For my part, I say my writing will become “Apostrophe optional” when Hades is officially opened as a skating rink, and not one moment sooner!

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