Apologetic Apostrophe

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5/11/2006
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The 'apologetic' or parochial apostrophe is the distinctive use of apostrophes in Modern Scots orthography. Apologetic apostrophes generally occurred where a consonant exists in the Standard English cognate, as in a' (all), gi'e (give) and wi' (with). The practice, unknown in Older Scots, was introduced in the 18th century by writers such as Allan Ramsay, Robert Fergusson and Robert Burns as part of a process of Anglicisation. The 18th-century practice was also adopted by later writers such as Walter Scott, John Galt and Robert Louis Stevenson. It produced an easily understood spurious Scots that was very popular with English readers and on the English stage. It was also sometimes forced on reluctant authors by publishers desirous of a wider circulation for their books. The custom "also had the unfortunate effect of suggesting that Broad Scots was not a separate language system, but rather a divergent or inferior form of English". The use of the apologetic apostrophe became less widespread after the appearance of the 'Style Sheet' in 1947 and is now considered unacceptable, the apostrophe-less forms such as aw (all), gie (give) and wi (with) being preferable.
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Apologetic apostrophes
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