Popular Trends

Is Apostrophe a New Catastrophe?

De’wayne, La’tanya, D’Juan, Rah’Nee, A’merika, Shau’Nay, Mich’ele, Rene’e. Seriously???

Using apostrophes in first names has been developing over the last 40 years and recently it seems to have become yet another baby naming trend in addition to all the hyphens, initials, unusual spellings and other pseudo-unique overly creative techniques that are bound to make your child’s life a living hell.

In English grammar, apostrophe has, very generally speaking, two basic uses: omission and possession. In other words, they can stand for something that is missing (mostly the case of contractions, such as it’s, meaning it is), or they can express that something belongs to somebody (my brother’s car, meaning the car that belongs to my brother). Now let’s be honest, there is a good deal of people who would misuse apostrophes in writing even the simplest sentences, such as My only brothers’ car lost it’s color (the correct version being My only brother’s car lost its color). This sad but true state of general knowledge of English grammar does not prevent people from inventing peculiar names for their offspring, using apostrophes for no apparent grammatical, not to mention practical reason.

I have an Irish friend whose last name is O’Brien. Despite having no fear of flying, there’s a sense of horror sneaking up on him every time he’s about to book a flight online. Why, you might ask? Because in the digital world of computing, he practically loses his identity. A lot of computer systems, including quite a few airline websites, simply don’t know how to deal with ‘extremities’ such as apostrophes, hyphens, or initials. Not only is it annoying when booking online, but one can easily become an unwanted victim of TSA not being able to match their name to their official record. In the same fashion, tiny little apostrophe can mess up your dental and medical records, school registration or college exam.

It is hard to get rid of a last name that has run through your family for decades, even centuries. But you do have a choice with your baby’s name. So anyone of you considering A’Laysyn, D’Kota, ’Ese, Cam’Ron, Da’neyelle, No’elle, or ZI’eyekel, be smart. At the airport, Miche’le might come out more troubling than a potential terrorist.

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