Monday, February 25, 2008


Maybe we should just drop the apostrophe altogether, not just as a nationalist statement but because I'd like my alarm call to work in the morning.

Niall O'Dowd, editor of the Irish Voice, commenting in Apostrophes in Names Stir Lot O' Trouble on the common problem that most computer systems have with apostrophes, dashes, and surname prefaces like "Van".

That is: If they exist they make trouble, so the systems usually make them go away.

O'Dowd is also referring to British colonialism which, according to the AP piece, is responsible for the Irish apostrophe:

The Irish apostrophe began with the British, who put it there because they believed the O looked odd without a link to the rest of the name. Many Gaelic speakers in Ireland refuse to carry an apostrophe, considering it a vestige of colonial days.

He's also referring to the fact that he's unable to subscribe to an online alarm call service because of the apostrophe in his name.

On a more sober note: The apostrophe problem was responsible for thousands of votes that went uncounted in Michigan's Democratic Primary.

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