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APOSTROPHE

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APOSTROPHE

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Jun 07, 2012 11:01 am

• apostrophe •

Pronunciation: ê-pahs-trê-fee • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Anything said to a person who is not present or does not exist, or to a personified object. 2. The single quote used to mark (a) contractions (I'll, I'd've, y'all), (b) the possessive suffix -'s (Hernando's hideaway), and (c) the plural of odd symbols such as numbers (three 7's), letters (four A's), and the like.

Notes: Gotcha! I'll bet you thought an apostrophe was nothing more than a single quote used to mark contractions. Today's Good Word is not nearly so dull as that. Whenever we exclaim, "Oh, Fate, why have you dealt me such a cruel blow?" as we are wont to do around tax time or more frequently in raising teen-agers, we hav
e committed an apostrophe. The adjective is apostrophic [æ-pê-strah-fik] and the verb, apostrophize [ê-pah-strê-faiz].

In Play: We sometimes resort to apostrophes of this type: "Oh, Abraham Lincoln, where are you now when we need you most?" The crucial point is that such statements are addressed to someone who is not present or does not exist. Anything you say or write in your poetry to the sun, the wind, flowers is an apostrophe. But should we stop here? Let's say you just explained in detail your plans for the weekend to your spouse only to look up and see that he or she was working a crossword and hadn't heard a word you had said. Haven't you just apostrophized your plans?

Word History: Today's word comes from Greek apostrophos, the noun from the verb apostrephein "to turn away," based on apo "off, away" + strephein "to turn, twist". Strophe, the noun from strephein itself, meant "a turn, a stanza", since stanzas were sung in turn. In English strophe refers to a stanza or similar grouping of lines in a poem or song. It is also visible in catastrophe from Greek kata "down, completely" + strophe "a turn". Apo shares the same origin as German auf, English of and off, and Latin ab "away from", found in many words like abdicate and absent. I could continue but I will stop here in hopes that all I've written to this point has not been apostrophic.
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Jun 07, 2012 11:23 am

Indeed your statements wer NOT apostrocized, but expanded our underestanding. My wife said "Amen!" to the crossword comment, as I am frequently guilty.
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Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Jun 07, 2012 9:55 pm

Perry: Did you invent the word "apostrocized"? It sounds like a perfectly good word to invent, but perhaps you would like to define it. There is a verb "apostrophize" which means to make use of an apostrophe.

Good Doctor: Thank you for the fascinating words of related etymology in the Good Word apostrophe. I think your etymologies are the best part of your Good Words. Dictionaries I have and those on line are not very good with etymologies.

For etymology lovers, Joseph Shipley wrote a very good, scholarly book, “The Origins of English Words.” Dr. Shipley, unfortunately, did not understand what a navel orange is, but other than that I have enjoyed his book and use it regularly. This is not spam. I believe Joseph Shipley is dead. I have about a dozen etymology books but some of them are not to be trusted, being replete with folk etymologies.
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Jun 08, 2012 9:00 am

Dunno, about apostrocize. Spell check lets it through, but shift to apostrophize if you wish.
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Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:54 am

My spell check is not as forgiving as yours. It doesn't allow for apostrocize. Also I couldn't find it in any dictionary although I didn't look in all of them.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:58 pm

Good Doctor: Thank you for the fascinating words of related etymology in the Good Word apostrophe. I think your etymologies are the best part of your Good Words. Dictionaries I have and those on line are not very good with etymologies.

Ditto. I want to piggyback on that statement.
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Postby Slava » Fri Jun 08, 2012 7:49 pm

Regarding the definitions, the 2(c) is a matter of at times heated debate. Is it the 80's or the 80s?
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Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Jun 08, 2012 11:46 pm

Slava: Yes.
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