A friend who teaches teachers how to teach reading comprehension taught me a terrific expression: “inconsiderate text.” Doesn’t that just nail a particular kind of bad writing? You know, the kind of bad writing in yesterday’s post?
Well, not exactly. That text didn’t write itself.
See, I got up yesterday morning and read this self-satisfied article about leaving out apostrophes. Now I happen to love apostrophes, also commas, semi-colons, quotation marks (known in England as “inverted commas”), colons, em-dashes–nearly every kind of punctuation except the exclamation point. I don’t like exclamation points. I use ’em, but I don’t like ’em. The words are supposed make the point.
Yesterday’s didn’t: his or mine. My general impression was that he, John Kelly at the WaPo, was making light of apostrophes.
Maybe he wasn’t. Maybe he was staring down a deadline, saw something blandly provocative, didn’t quite know what to say, and took the easy route: superior and derisive without commitment.
My thoughts, on the other hand, were both furious and clear: “Apostrophes are critical. They’re the difference between being possessed and being multiple (hence the title of this post). Great balls of fire, man! These are the details that makes civil discourse possible!”
Start to type, then there’s an eighteen-and-a-half-minute gap in my memory. Then, boom, there it is online, all fat words and convoluted syntax. Obscure. Inconsiderate.
And here I’ve done it again, when I could’ve just said: Sorry.