Edited by Martin Neef and Beatrice Primus †
[Written Language & Literacy 7:2] 2005
► pp. 185–204
The paper provides a new analysis of the apostrophe in various languages which is less redundant and complies better with linguistic intuition than traditional deﬁnitions.
The apostrophe does not mark the omission of letters, as traditionally assumed (English it’s, German auf’m ‘on the’, French l’ami ‘the friend’), but indicates important morpheme boundaries wherever this is necessary for certain reasons. Such an indication of a morpheme boundary can be necessitated by several factors, e.g. the omission of letters (English it’s, German auf’m, French l’ami), proper names (Turkish Ankara’da ‘in Ankara’, English John’s), or graphical code-switching (English two l’s, Russian laptop’ов ‘laptop, gen. pl.’).
This explanation covers even most violations of current orthographic norms, e.g. German Häus’chen ‘small house’, and it has no exceptions whatsoever in formal texts. (English isn’t, German ’nauf ‘up’, French p’tit ‘small’ are mere ‘transcripts’ of colloquial speech.)
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