Howlin at the Moo

Uhowlin@mebwah? As a literary device, omitting portions of a wordthe portion at the end in particularis often used to denote rough language. This is generally implemented on the written page by an apostrophe in place of one or more missing letters in a word. Used to great effect when, for example, the writer wishes to give a colorful, rough-hewn character an air of gritty nonchalance and missing teeth, the practice is nevertheless tiring, and mundane.

For this reason, I'm starting a Movement to discourage it. Those who insist on seeing an apostrophe where letters used to be are welcome to do their own typing, but I think dialogue is every bit as readable, meaningful, and enjoyable without the blasted thing. In fact, as you can see from the example that follows, there's no good reason for the last letter in any word spoken by a colorful, rough-hewn character.

"I say, sir. Have you any sweet, hot mustard?"

"Wha? Ho do relis?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"Yo wan ho do relis fo yo ho do?"

"Egad! What has happened to your teeth?"

"Wha? Ain nothin wron wit m teet."

"No, not teat. Teeth! Teeth!"

"Ain dea. Kno wha yo sai th firs tim."

"Tim? The name is Keith!"

"Bo. Gla t kno yo."


Obviously, dialogue like this is more authenticand much easier to followwithout all those infernal punctuation marks cluttering things up.



  1. "Infernal punctuation" -- I love it! Did you know that in Hell, periods wear dresses? Here's the documentation:

    "I wish the dresses of the infernal period weren't so elaborate." —G. K. Chesterton, The Secret of Father Brown

    Charles Dickens was persecuted by the demonic prongs of the "infernal dash":

    "Pray take care that they always strike out that infernal dash which I myself have taken out five hundred times." —a letter to William Henry Wills, his sub-editor

  2. I suspected it, but now you have shown me the proof.

    You always see the devil and his throng wearing little or nothing, which is smart considering the melting point of modern fabrics.

  3. Yes, the devil and his thong which is an infernal apostrophe. But Jesus really got punct: He had twelve apostrophes.

    I agree: when it comes to apostrophes, there should be no contractual obligation.

    We live in a post-trophe world.

  4. Yes, the devil and his thong, which is itself an infernal apostrophe.

    Jesus was punct too: he had 12 apostrophes.

    We do live in an a'trophe'd world, a world where there should be no contractual obligation for apostrophes. We should be post-trophic and not apostheosticists.

    I' wi' yo' on thi' 'un. I sh'a'n't be persuaded otherwise.

  5. Stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it! A sixpack of zingers is too much, too soon, for even zingers can kill if too many are swallowed at onc . . . urk . . .