Our Apostrophe* At Risk

I don’t have the leverage to give a homework assignment, so I’ll just get down on my knees and start with a line memorably delivered by John Turturro in Miller’s Crossing:

“Look into your heart.”

Yes, you’ll just have to believe that I actually got down on my knees and said, “look into your heart,” pleading, most especially, with my fellow American citizens.

Imagine that Turturro represents our experiment in self-government, and, maybe too late, has recognized what the stakes are. He says,

“I can’t die.”

But of course, he can.

Watching this next YouTube video will take all the patience you can muster, unless you’ve had regular practice sessions in a sensory deprivation chamber. You may find yourself saying, “sheesh, no wonder the nut felt like he had to at least SAY he was getting down on his knees, asking us to look into our hearts and whatnot…”

But the only way I can respond, as a fellow Earthling, is to plead with you to “look into your heart.”

I feel pretty sure that, if you dig this whole interview with Judge Luttig, plus however much of the 1/6 Committee hearings your schedule will allow, you’ll agree with me that our apostrophe is at risk.

Which apostrophe is that, you say? It’s one that illustrates how important a wee squiggle can be.

It’s the apostrophe that keeps We’re In Charge from becoming Were in Charge.


“mark indicating an omitted letter,” 1580s, from French apostrophe, from Late Latin apostrophus, from Greek apostrophos (prosoidia) “(the accent of) turning away,” thus, a mark showing where a letter has been omitted, from apostrephein “avert, turn away,” from apo “off, away from” (see apo-) + strephein “to turn” (from PIE root *streb(h)- “to wind, turn”).

In English, the mark often represents loss of -e- in -es, possessive ending. By 18c. it was being extended to all possessives, whether they ever had an -e- or not.

As always, my humble thanks to the folks at the