Apostrophe Catastrophe

Please bear with me people — it’s about to get intensely pedantic and crotchety here on the old Regensblog.

It seems the whole of Germany doesn’t know what to do with this character:

It’s an apostrophe. Germans have their own name for it — Hochkomma — which would be perfectly fine, if only they would use it. But they steadfastly refuse to, preferring instead to place an accent (grave or aigu; they are not picky about symbols they do not understand) over an invisible character.

It cannot be the result of software, like MS Word or even WordPress, silently correcting the well-intentioned placement of a typewriter-style apostrophe into a typographer’s apostrophe. If anything, I wonder if it’s the nature of the beast, refusing to settle for a utilitarian approximation of the curlier, anglier version, or being confused by the impossible-to-reproduce-at-home quotation conventions one reads in printed literary works:

  • „…“
  • ‚…‘
  • »…«
  • ›…‹

Add in an utter lack of comprehension (or, let’s be generous and say disregard) of the rules for denoting plurals and possessives in my increasingly-less foreign native language, and this monstrosity is the result.

Oh, you’ve never noticed typographical abuse like that before? Well, try not to let it ruin your life in Germany. I’m sure you’re attenuated to it now, and for that I am superficially sorry.

Mit viel Schadenfreude,

9 thoughts on “Apostrophe Catastrophe”

  1. Scott Hanson

    I usually hear the natives refer to it as a “Deppenapostroph”. Complaining about it means you’ve nearly reached German Zen.

    1. cliff1976

      Hmm. Is that good news?

      How long did it take you to reach that level?

    2. cliff1976

      Whoa, thanks for that! I googled “Deppenapostroph” and found my people!


      1. Deppenapostroph

        even better: http://www.deppenapostroph.info :-)

  2. Carrie B

    My word, it couldn’t be any worse than the misuse of the apostrophe here in the States!

    “Try” our hot dog’s.

    This infamous (in Burgan-sburg) sign was on the street corner near an ice cream vendor that apparently also sold “hot dog’s”. Hot dog’s what?

    You need a German “The Oatmeal” version of: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/apostrophe

    1. cliff1976

      Boy, do we ever!

  3. shoreacres

    This is just so funny. Only yesterday I wasted an entire hour trying to figure out how to pluralize the word “no” and do so within quotation marks. That led me to arcane discussions of the apostrophe, of course, and in the end I made the quite reasonable decision to forego the plural completely.

    Using “no” as a noun is something I’ll probably not do again, at least for a while, so I can get back to clucking about things like your snack’s.

    1. cliff1976

      You mean it’s not just one “no”, and two “nose”?

  4. Oliver

    Oh, the good old apostrophe problem since English became so popular and “hip” in Germany. See also: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostrophitis.

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