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Query Details

Query Subject:   Apostrophe rules
Author:   Daniel Buncic
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Query:   Dear Linguist List,

The apostrophe is often neglected in graphemic descriptions (it is regarded
neither a proper punctuation mark nor a letter). At the same time it is the
object of a fervent battle against popular misspellings in several languages
(e.g. English _thank's_, _is'nt_, German _Peter's Kneipe_, _gib'_). This and
other observations have given me the idea that the true function of the
apostrophe is misunderstood if it is defined as a mark of omission. Instead,
in my opinion it should be defined exclusively as a marker of
morpheme-boundaries (probably in all languages!). I am writing a comparative
paper about this, so I would be happy if you could help me with the
following questions:

1. Where are apostrophes placed in your language?

2. Do the rules define it as a mark of omission, as a marker of boundaries,
or as something else?

3. Are there frequent deviations from the rules?

4. Do you know any historical data about the origin of the apostrophe? Why
does it look the way it looks (')?

Thank you very much in advance. Please send your answers to,
and I will post a summary to the list.

Daniel Buncic
Bonn University Seminar of Slavonic Philology
Lennéstr. 1, D-53113 Bonn
Phone: + 49 228 73-7203

LL Issue: 13.935
Date posted: 05-Apr-2002


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