Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Apostrophe Rant

I edit a lot of bureaucratic minutiae. Cutter Organization Manual sections,
memos for the record, memos for another unit, memos to individuals, page 7s,
business letters, emails, press releases, endorsements, evaluation comments,
messages...and probably a few other things. I'm not the best editor in the
world, but my mother was an English teacher while I was a young kid, and
somehow some of her grammar knowledge must have sunk in through osmosis to
me. 

Like apostrophes. They're such little bits of type, barely there at all. Not
much ink is used for an apostrophe, nor do they take up many pixels on a
computer screen. But they can annoy the crap out of me so very badly. 

Here's the deal -- apostrophes are generally used for two main purposes: 
-- An apostrophe is used to show possession. For example, "My mother's
background as an English teacher contributed to my borderline neurosis about
using apostrophes correctly."
-- An apostrophe is used to show where a contraction exists, or to show
how/where two words are connected into one, shorter word. For example, "Many
people don't (do not) know how to use apostrophes appropriately."

They are not used to denote a plural form of acronyms or other nouns, or
noun-like words. I know there may be exceptions, but in my world, I root out
those exceptions in track changes, and leave them in my red-lettered dust,
or strike through them with a vengeance with my XO's green ink pen.

OS's is the possessive for of Operations Specialist -- whatever comes right
after OS's belongs to the OS. It is NOT a plural form of OS. The plural form
of OS is OSs. Yes, autocorrect tries to make the first, capitol S lower case
as soon as you space away from it. But take the split second to go back and
correct the autocorrect. It's attention to detail, and it can make or break
you.

I know that as soon as I post this rant every single JO I've ever worked
with will take great delight in pointing out all my typos and grammar
mistakes...but if I can get through to just one person about the proper use
of the apostrophe, my work here is done. Just like when I actually put "Nap
time" on the POD (for the first time...the second time was just me showing
off). 

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer
USCGC DILIGENCE (WMEC 616)
**UNDERWAY**

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You will only have to deal with my random apostrophes for about 3 more months. On the bright side I do actually think about it a little more after our last talk :)

FSC

Charlotte said...

FSC, I promise this post was not directed at any one individual! I knew as soon as I posted it, folks would think it was about them :) But I'm glad to hear some of my hardcore writing standards are sinking in :) I know I'll miss random apostrophes in a few months...

Charlotte said...
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