It’s not every day you get the scoop on all the grammar goings-on from someone on the inside. But today, we’re fortunate to be speaking with one of the biggest players and perhaps one of the more misunderstood members of the Punctuation Team. That’s right, it’s the one and only Apostrophe.
AWC: Thanks so much for joining us today.
A: You’re most welcome.
AWC: Look at that – an apostrophe to kick things off!
A: It’s what I do.
AWC: And another! Great stuff. So, thank you for being so punctual.
A: Not a problem. I’m punctuation – it’s a big part of me.
AWC: Tell us a little bit about what you do – for those who may be unfamiliar with your role.
A: Sure. I contract things – usually two words into one. “I am” becomes “I’m” and “they are” becomes “they’re” – that sort of thing.
A: I also work part-time replacing missing letters or numbers – I’ve done that for ’em since the ’70s or ’80s I guess.
AWC: Such an important job.
A: And lastly, I get called in to charge people with possession. If the coffee belongs to Tony, I make sure it’s Tony’s coffee. If Lisa sneezes when receiving flowers, I’ll make it Lisa’s allergy. Possession is nine tenths of the law, and plurals are the criminals I’m out to catch.
AWC: Wow, you certainly seem busy.
A: Well, compared to some of the team, I’m a sloth. We hardly ever see Comma – constantly rushing back and forwards, and Fullstop is always off trying to find ‘closure’. Just the other day it was chaos – Comma got called in EIGHT times in a sentence. You should have seen Em Dash and Semi Colon, they were FUMING.
AWC: Sounds like a busy place. Who do you bunk with?
A: Across from me are the Colons – nice couple – she’s always winking at me though – and above me is Quotation Mark. Yeah, Mark can be a little talkative – always chatting. He also loves throwing air quotes about the place – a little dramatic.
AWC: Who would you say you get on with best in the team?
A: I’d have to say Hyphen. We’re both misunderstood really – people never know how to use us. Yet we’re out there making a difference, changing words for the better. We’re not afraid to get right into the words and in between letters – no one else does that, so it kind of bonds us.
AWC: Let’s talk about your role. How has it changed in recent times?
A: I think the advent of social media has had a huge impact. With so many more conversations happening around the world – via TXT, emails, comments and more, my role has become more complex.
AWC: Can you share some examples?
A: I got called out for a job today, turned up and couldn’t believe it. “I don’t need to be here” I told them – “it’s YOUR not YOU’RE”. So frustrating.
AWC: Does that happen a lot?
A: Actually, most of the time these days people are just not risking it altogether. They’d rather not bring me in than do it wrong and look like an idiot. Social media has a lot to answer for.
AWC: We’ve heard a lot in the media about the ongoing “its” vs “it’s” saga. What is your role in this?
A: Yes, I run the IT department and so I’m often needed to turn IT into IT’S. So of course I’m turning up and immediately looking around for the IS or HAS which I need to sign the contraction contract. But usually it’s just a possessive IT standing there. “I thought I needed you to make it mine,” he’ll say. I just leave in disgust.
AWC: Can you blame him though? After all, we’ve seen you in the gossip mags getting cosy with anyone or anything that wants to own things. Your only exception appears to be IT.
A: Look, I was already linked to IT’S for the contraction before IT started getting all possessive. I couldn’t two-time them, so had to step away.
AWC: Tell us more about your fellow punc-rockers. What’s it like working with Forward Slash?
A: Haha, yeah he’s surprisingly indecisive/unsure/hesitant most of the time. Certainly the arrival of the Internet shot him and @ symbol to worldwide fame overnight. We hardly see @ these days – she’s always off with # taking selfies or hanging on Instagram and Twitter. They are making the most of their fame I guess.
AWC: Okay, let’s Shift focus. What are some of the others like?
A: Exclamation Mark thinks he’s Number 1, but that’s typical of the upper-cases. Don’t see a lot of $ or % since they work in finance most days. As for &, she tends to hang out in hipster bars where they love typography and poetry readings, and * works down in legal now.
As for ^ over in 6. We have no idea what he does. It’s bizarre…
AWC: They sound like a bunch of characters! So, back to you. What’s the story with “won’t”? That’s a crazy contraction – care to elaborate on the rumours?
A: Okay, I said not to bring that up. Where’s Mike? It was clear we weren’t going to discuss WON’T – that was off the table. Let’s go.
AWC: We, um, sorry, we just thought…
A: I’m out of here.
This interview ended abruptly.
All attempts to bring the apostrophe back by using a lot of contractions and possessives were unsuccessful.