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Internet shanks apostrophes and hyphens

An article in today’s Toronto Star tolls doom and gloom for the future of punctuation, laying blame at the feet of the Internet and its evil minions of Google, instant messengers, e-mail, text messaging, and URLs for their slaying of apostrophes and hyphens.

“People are absolutely confused about punctuation, particularly about apostrophes,” says Naomi Baron, a linguistics prof with D.C.’s American University and author of Alphabet to Email: How written English Has Evolved and Where It’s Going author.

The Star deliciously points out that “as if to prove the point, the publisher accidentally left out the apostrophe of the ‘it’s’ on one of the first drafts of the book jacket.”

According to Baron, the next decade will see the Internet mercilessly mow down punctuation, turning the word landscape into a post-apocalyptic “free-for-all.” Like the Terminator, the Internet has no emotion. And Google? “If you Google a word with an apostrophe, Google doesn’t care,” she says.

And not only is the ‘Net a badass, but it’s an enabler, reinforcing the informal vibe language has taken on since the “feel-good, express-yourself-as-you-will, don’t-be-hampered-by-the-Man-with-the-red-pen hippie era.”

So look lively, grammar nerds: the Internet is ruthless, and it’ll — or should we say “itll” — take no prisoners.

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Read the Toronto Star story here