You say tomato, I say tomato, grocers say tomato’s
Today is National Punctuation Day in the USA, sorry, the U.S.A. It’s the ninth annual celebration of accentuation; a chance to pay homage to the humble hyphen.
Its official website bills the pedants’ party (assuming there’s more than one pedant) as “a chance to remind America that a semicolon is not a surgical procedure”. This seems both ironic and timely, given that these days punctuation is a pain in the arse.
I’m a fan of punctuation. When I proposed to my wife I paid the skywriter extra to include the question mark.
But as time passes and language evolves it seems that punctuation is becoming less important, more a chance for Generation X to tut-tut and lament Generation Y.
There’s a sign on my walk to work that reads: Breakfast Special – bacon, eggs, toast and tomato’s. Does it matter that the apostrophe shouldn’t be there? It’s a regular old plural rather than the possessive. (Well, I’m assuming it’s plural, though it is only $8.50, so perhaps it’s the singular.)
That’s not the point, however. The meaning of the sign is clear regardless of the minor mistake. Context almost always makes the meaning clear, whether it’s the most common you’re/your mistake or it/it’s, which, let’s face it, when we’re firing off emails at the speed of sound we can all be guilty of from time to time.
So, should punctuation exist or would it make life easier for all concerned if we simply did away with it?
Answers on a postcard, paying particular attention to punctuation, naturally.
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