There are three kinds of apostrophes, grammatical don’t you know, botanical (when bits of protoplasm and such gather on plant cell walls adjacent to other plant cell walls, the more you know) and rhetorical. O reader did you know, the meaning of apostrophe that came first and the one I’m on about today is the rhetorical one?
The word apostrophe comes from Latin and Greek words that mean to turn away, a turning. It’s when the speaker or the writer stops everything and words directed at an audience turn elsewhere. Where to? To people not in the scene, to an object maybe. O tree, hear my words and tell me my fate! Or a concept. O language, you never stop you slippery Proteus! It’s a turn from the reader but also a turning of the reader. Turn this way. Follow me here. Listen to me say things that you can hear to something or somebody not here with us now, not in this alphabet book, maybe not even in this reality, to some one or thing who can’t respond. Or won’t. How do you know when an apostrophe is happening? They almost always start with O.
O youngest child of mine, you want to play imagination games with me and a penguin named Sardine while I’m writing. You won’t want this forever, or even for much longer than now.
O Sardine, it took me forever to work out the exact rhythm of that side to side dance you do so I can replicate it. And why do you live in a sewer?
O sweet first child walking back in forth in front of me, talking Minecraft, I did not realize when I said no video games on Wednesdays that this is always the day Mojang releases snapshots.
O Mojang, must you forever release snapshots on Wednesdays!
O Wednesday why are you harder to learn how to spell than the other days named after gods?
O English language why did you evolve to keep the genitive singular in Wednesday? Why maintain that es ending, day of Woden, when the other deities get Thor’s day, Tiw’s day, Frey day?
O Tiw, why is it the only thing we know about you comes from the Rune Poem and that your rune was carved onto weapons? You were a god of war, were you also the god of enigmas?
O Tir, you are not just a different spelling of Tiw in a different location, you are a thousand years younger and have a vibrant mythology surrounding you! You must enjoy the richness of living a full and youthful existence, albeit not so full because of that whole wolf bite thing. Sorry about your hand.
O descendant of wolves, why did you snuffle me awake this morning with your fuzzy breathing pointy sniffing snout? Wet for some reason. So damned early. O Nova, your name begins with no, making it confusing for you to work out the difference between right and wrong.
O Exhaustion called forth by act of dog, star of the morning, I glory in the moment I decided O is for Apostrophe and you flew away! I dread your return. Do not enter this place of worship.