Apostrophe Catastrophe

See this article.

Apparently the apostrophe, the oft-misused and thorn-shaped punctuation mark, has been poking holes in the Web world for years. Poor computer programming on Web pages – pages where you and I enter our names, addresses and mothers’ maiden names – has created a problem for all kinds of people.

As a writer, poor punctuation is a pet peeve and I’ve seen plenty of confusion created by apostrophe misuse. But from correct usage?

That’s right.  The faulty Web code can’t handle enter’s (or return’s) next-door neighbor. Because poorly coded Web sites only understand regular letters and numbers, using punctation when completing a form will literally interfere with the Web page itself – pretty much canning any chance you had to book that flight or pay a bill.  Instead of a confirmation, you stare at an error page wondering if you should click again and if so, will your card be charged twice?

Although many mainstream sites have fixed their pages to fully accept punctation and diacritical marks, you can never be certain if, like Mr. O’Dowd in the AP article, you’ll need to lose your identity just to purchase a great book.

Tip
This hits close to home – well, actually right at my home – since my address has the misfortune of requiring an apostrophe.  If your personal information has this same thorn-in-its-side, be safe and skip the apostrophe when working the Web.

Okay – let the punctuation and grammar examinations begin. I’m crossing my fingers that I didn’t make a mistake here.

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5 Responses to Apostrophe Catastrophe

  1. meldenius says:

    If you have not yet read “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” you must. You will love it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “Instead of a confirmation, you stare at an error page wondering if you should click again and if so, will your card be charged twice?”Grammam correction: a comma (that other thorn-shaped punctuation mark) should be inserted between “again” and “and.” Or, for the more erudite among us, a semi-colon. I didn’t notice this last night.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thank you. This probably explains a lot of error pages that I’ve gotten when trying to order Christmas presents and mail them to your house! And by the way, I love the word “erudite” and that you used it@Your sister-in-law

  4. matthewpedia says:

    Yes – Lynne Truss’ book is tops.

  5. Anonymous says:

    You should do a post on the difference between its and it’s.ben

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