Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Death of the Conjunction Apostrophe? I'm Wont to Revive It

I've noticed people, particularly young people, leaving out the apostrophe in the conjunction for "will not." Wont is a word, but it has a different meaning than won't, and a different pronunciation the way I learned it. Wont rhymes with font and won't rhymes with don't. When I see, "I wont wait to get a new iPhone." I read it as, "I am accustomed wait to get a new iPhone." It's missing a to and it trips me up. I read it again substituting won't.  I am wont to jab at the screen, putting in an apostrophe with my finger.

I Googled this to be sure it wasn't already in common use. I'm not certain I want this to be one of my pedantic frustrations like lie and lay. Some of my most educated and precise friends mess up lie and lay. I would like to stop twitching when people say they are "going to lay down." Google automatically changes a search for wont into a search for won't, so I'm not sure if that means wont isn't even a word anymore or if it's just such a common misspelling nobody cares. According to this question on the MacRumors forum some people notice that spellcheck doesn't catch an intended will not spelled wont, yet don't ever think to look wont up in a dictionary. They accuse people of not understanding the question when people try to explain to them that wont is a word, too, therefore is not misspelled.

If there's a chance to take a stand for the conjunction apostrophe before it's too late I'd like to vote to keep it. If the kids want to communicate with adults they should probably not do things that make it take longer to read their writing. Abbreviations and using one word when you mean another makes reading slower. tl:dr (too long: didn't read) will give way to gs:dr (grammar sucks: didn't read). Studies have shown that it takes longer to read an abbreviation than the words written out. I've always wanted to read a follow up study for people who grow up with the abbreviation to see if this changes with them. I can read WTF pretty fast now, but I say in my head, "What the Fuck?" not "Double-U Tee Eff." Does anybody actually read it as letters? What do you read when you see LOL? I read loll, which doesn't really give me the feeling of hilarity. Which is probably why I never use that when I type.

Mnemonic for young bloggers:

Choose your own font,
As is your wont.
But don't
Misuse won't.

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