A haporth of tar

I read a fascinating treatise recently advocating the abolition of the apostrophe. I have to say, I was quite sold by the argument (and in deference have omitted the usual ones from Ha’p'orth in the title above). However, a few days on, I’m no so sure. Apostrophes might be the thin end of the wedge. Mass extinction of punctuation could occur.

Of course, it’s my brief in this blog to play Devil’s Advocate. The pompous and the pedant alike are fair game. Only the other day I was being both of these myself. In the bathroom of a small Lakeland hotel I spotted a sign: Important Guest Notice. (Have a shufty.) That can’t be for me, I decided, I’m from Hinckley.

Of course, I did read it really, even though it would have been clearer with a well-placed colon (no pun intended). Only the ultimate pompous pedant could have refused to accept that the meaning was obvious.

And, in any event, the downside of a misunderstanding is negligible.

But that may not be the case in a selling communication.

And I guess that’s where I would draw the caveat as regards the abolition of dots, dashes and squiggles. The fact is they can and do speed up the legibility of the written word. Hypens, for example, create an easy-to-read effect where compound adjectives are used. Indeed – for the copywriter – I’m certain it would feel rather like being a carpenter who’s had all his Phillips screwdrivers nicked. (Now, should that be Phillip’s, or would that be a grocer’s apostrophe?)

 

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