Today’s topic came from the deliciously gorgeous Liz Kentish who never every fails to bring joy.. this title has been hanging for 17 days… I love that she set it.
Where to begin with this bad boy?
I start here:
“Apostrophes. The difference between knowing your shit & knowing you’re shit”*
My point being that a small piece of syntax can alter things dramatically. The devil’s in the detail, of course. Do Apostrophes change the world? Maybe not, but the use of language, how we write it and frame it is important. Words can wound or inspire. We are living in times where language can be altered, twisted….perhaps in a time where language may fail us; where it might be visual narratives, or kinetic actions that will speak louder. Where our shared language might have to be one of shown empathy, sympathy, care, kindness.. because words might just let us down.
I recognise I’m privileged enough to speak a language which has hundreds of thousands of words. Privileged further by a family who encouraged use-of-language, by access to teachers like the indomitable Nancy Patterson at Bell Baxter High School who stood her tiny, rotund frame on skinny high heels and banned us from using the word “got” (“You didn’t “got” to the station. There are a million other verbs out there. Use any other one of them”). But my strong English means I am lazy in other languages. The articulation I enjoy here, on the page, verbally, utterly fails me when I ask for a sandwich in France or when I try to read a menu in Hungary… I’m utterly dumb. Literally. Sod the redundant apostrophes…. In these situation I am massively disadvantaged… I disadvantaged myself by giggling during German lessons. Language matters. I wish I knew more of them.
And yet I like the notion of a redundant thing. Something that once mattered – that once had meaning. Childhood teddy bears or cuddle blankets, put aside as we grow. Old mugs bearing the race we ran, the school we went to, the holiday we had. Old books, read once, that we keep because they remind us of a time, a place or a thing. The old ashtray found by the person who hasn’t smoked in years. The poster of a concert once attended with a dismal ex. These things are markers of moments. In their own way they hold resonance and comfort….when they become redundant (rarely overnight, they are not redeemable vouchers for a shop) it means we have moved, shifted – who we were isn’t how we now are. Sometimes we are strident about that – NO! I am no LONGER thatperson! Other times, we look more fondly at the memento, the thing-I-no-Longer-need.. and we might be glad that we have shifted, or quietly sad.
A redundant thing can still hold significance. If I were Maria Kondo, I’d be all “Get rid”. Yet on a day where I’ve just chucked a bunch of stuff in storage, I’m going to tell you: it ain’t that simple. Sometimes….things can be not-quite redundant… they can hold possibility “oooh… that’s going to look good in the new house – whenever the new house happens”. Call me indecisive. Call me weak…. Call me sentimental about my Granny’s table… just don’t call Maria Kondo.. She and I might clash.
These are times when we need to recycle, upcycle, make-do-and-mend. Times where waste should be valued, perhaps, and re-thought about. I’ve heard that Kondo’s call for us to declutter led to a rise in folk chucking stuff out – Where did it go? More to Charity shops? More to landfill? Did folk gift out their redundant stuff? I hope we are wise where we can be.
And so as I mull on the redundancy of apostrophes and how they changed the world, and how this might just be my favourite title of the whole blog series, I’m thinking about language and things passing and about how redundant things might just show the world is changing. Yes, Liz.. maybe that’show redundant apostrophes change the world.
*I know.. technically it’s Grammar…
Oh My God this one was late in the day…. busy Bank Holiday weekend meant writing was hard to fit in.. but a challenge is a challenge and I thought about the post as I went through my day. I’m delighted at the variety of stuff I have been offered.. genuinely had to roll up my verbal sleeves a few times and now I only have 4 more posts on this challenge, I can feel how Sad I’ll be when it closes… going to post now ( 9:30 pm) or I’ll mis today’s deadline….