Wednesday, February 3, 2010

O, Apostrophe, Apostrophe, Wherefore Art Thou Apostrophe?

Someone took the time to have this sign made for the owner of this pub; too bad they didn't take the time to add the required posessive apostrophe.


Susanna said...

In a blog designed to sate the linguistic, grammatical, and semantic cravings of the more intense nerds out there, I'm shocked to see this blatant misuse of the interrogative "wherefore!" We're all familiar with Juliet's famed query, infamously paraphrased as "hey, where's Romeo?" However, it's surprising to find that so many people still are unaware that "wherefore" does not AT ALL mean "where," but in fact means a pure and simple "why." In actuality, Shakespeare's fated lover is wondering WHY Romeo is Romeo...not assessing his whereabouts. This interrogative fell out of use generations ago, but it seems that its legacy in this text alone will continue to cause confusion over this archaic meaning for centuries to come.

Laura Payne said...

Susanna -

Thank you for clarifying the definition. I never did care for Shakespeare. At any rate, language is always changing and it is common for words to take on new meanings, so, right or wrong, the paraphrased "hey, where's Romeo?" indicates that "where" is an accepted definition for "wherefore" in the lexicon of most.

By the way, if sticking to the traditional definintion of "wherefore", the post does answer the question "why the apostrophe?" by stating that it is required in the posessive name of the pub.

Thanks for reading and commenting. It is readers' comments that make blogging fun.

Anonymous said...

Laura Payne,

Your first excuse that the wrong definition is "accepted . . . in the lexicon of most" is the fallacy of "appeal to common practice".

Your second excuse that the post answers "why the apostrophe?" is the fallacy of "ignorance of refutation".

It would have been better if you had admitted that you used the word incorrectly instead of worrying about the embarrassment of having been wrong. "Why" and "where" are two different concepts that are important to distinguish when communicating effectively. Conflating the two concepts reduces the amount of effective communication, and so it should be avoided.

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