Monday, 16 December 2019

OK, Apostrophe!

Good morning David,

I enjoyed your article in the mighty apostrophe. Long may it reign!

Ironic that the paper you write for doesn’t use it when it’s needed in pinyin

I’ve had a years-long, so far unsuccessful, campaign to convince the  Post’s editors that (for example) “Xi’an” (eg, 西安) is not the same as “Xian” (eg, 先). Not only does the apostrophe change the meaning, but it also changes the pronunciation. Failure to use the apostrophe is wrong!

One of the Post’s writers told me that she had told the editors herself (in an article about Xi’an), but that they had told her it was “policy” not to use the apostrophe in pinyin. Policy, in other words, to be wilfully incorrect. 

I’ve just remembered a sign I saw many years ago — pre-phone cameras —  in an antiquarian bookseller along the Mall in London: 
“Just in …a first edition of David Copperfield, by Charles Dicken’s”.

Yours, in shared (?) pedantry and apostrophe adulation,

Peter f. 
Hong Kong