It isn’t my fault but I was educated in a private school as a day boy and as a result my grammar and punctuation is pretty good. It isn’t because I was clever, or because I wanted to be correct but because that is what it was like back then in my middle class world. As a child I had no choice.
As an adult, therefore, it grates when I see the apostrophe misused or poor grammar in print. Naturally, being a grammar warrior doesn’t make one popular, so I refrain as much as possible. However I do wonder how the present situation arose.
One factor back in my day was that the English taught at school was the same as the spoken English within my social class. I speak accent-less Home Counties I suppose you’d say. But the majority of Brits spoke a wide variety of regional dialects, each with their idiosyncratic peculiarities. At one time the media – radio and TV were very stuffy and spoke Received English. It sounds so quaint now of course because the world has become smaller and accents of all types are welcome in broadcasting. With these accents comes new uses of words.
This underpins the idea that language is live, not static. To add to the mix, technology has added it’s own layer, much of which we have all adopted without a second thought. If twenty years ago I had announced I was going to message you, you’d give me a sideways look!
Texting initially created it’s own language with sentences like ‘C U Ltr’. Interestingly, with the advent of better phones, it seems we are now reverting to writing more or less full sentences again in out texting. However one thing that is a pain in texting is inserting the apostrophe.
This has led to us becoming used to their lack and funnily enough – it doesn’t matter! We still get the meaning. This is feeding back into the printed word or online articles. I’ve lost count of the number of “errors” I spot nowadays even on prestigious websites. And it doesn’t matter! In addition, a lot of the news reports on the web are actually written by computer. Not a lot of people know that!
So it was no surprise when the Apostrophe Protection Society – yes really! – announced it was throwing in the towel and closing down. “We give up!” they announced.
I will still grind my teeth occasionally and can’t but help myself writing proper like!!