A Language Without the Difficulties of the Apostrophe

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From Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss:

“In classical texts, it [the apostrophe] was used to mark dropped letters, as in t’cius for “tertius”; and when English printers adopted it, this was still its only function” (Truss 37). 

The background behind an apostrophe made the English language more similar to other languages, in a way.  I had no idea that the original intention of apostrophes was to draw attention to missing letters.  The apostrophe was therefore at one time very similar to French’s circumflex accent.  The circumflex accent(ˆ) was used to indicate a missing letter (usually a consonant) which used to be part of the word, but over time became omitted.  Usually, the omitted letter made the word more similar to English, for example the French words: forêt, arrêt, and hâte, all originally included S’s.  If one adds the missing letter you can see how they become more similar to English: forest, arrest, and haste.  However, while the English language continued to develop new and unexpected (and sometimes arbitrary uses for the apostrophe, for example, the guidelines for its use with proper names ending in S), the French language kept the circumflex accent to denoting one thing and left the possessives to be dealt with by other things (for the most part the word “de” meaning “of.”  To make something possessive in French one cannot say Dr. Jerz’s book, one must instead say the book of Dr. Jerz, thus avoiding all the problems involving possessive S’s).      

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