Vs. ‘n’

Posted: September 3, 2011 in Language
Tags: , , , , ,

Here’s the deal.  I am adamantly against the use of ’n’ as an abbreviation for the word and.  As in 80’s hip hop power house Salt ’n’ Pepa, British culinary delight Fish ’n’ Chips, or, in its most recognizable form – Rock ’n’ Roll.  In all cases, I do not approve.

Firstly, how lazy can we be?  We don’t have time to type out “Franks and Beans”…we need the handy abbreviation “Franks ’n’ Beans”?  It’s the same number of characters.  We’re saving neither time nor space for the sake of being able to slur our words together.

And that’s a lot of pressure on one letter.  You think n isn’t busy enough representing North on maps, Nitrogen on periodic tables and taking the lead in spelling important words like narwhal, nachos and nephew?  The fourteenth is a busy letter, it can’t be reasonably expected to go around representing conjunctions in its spare time.  Heck, it doesn’t have any spare time.  I mean, imagine a world in which n is so busy replacing all of  the and’s that it can’t attend to its normal duties.  Chilling, no?  What would you call your sibling’s son? 

Very Necessary

Hip Hop's Spice Girls

Plus I simply can’t get behind the notion of having two apostrophes in one word.  The first is a stand in for the a and the second takes the place of the d.  That’s simply too much to keep track of.  Don’t believe me?  Ask Shake ’n Bake – what does Kraft think this means?  Shake in Bake? Shake on Bake?  Or what about Guns n’ Roses?  You see?  It’s madness.

And if we allow for two apostrophes in one word, what’s to stop people from abbreviating but as ’u’?  Or how about ’a’?  Is that supposed to be cat, jam, fax?  It’s preposterous.  I won’t live in a world where I can’t distinguish my cat from my fax.  Really, is this the future or our language?  Or should I say, Rea’’y, ’s t’i’  ’h’ fu’ur’ o’ ’u’ la’gua’e?     

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I stop the use of ’n’ and restore order to our world?  I think I’ll start a campaign bringing attention to the importance of a and d. If these letters garnered more respect perhaps people would be less likely to discard them for a pair of apostrophes.  Yes, an ad promoting these fine letters (after all, you can’t have an ad without a and d).  We’ll buy billboards.  Purchase air time.  Design internet pop ups.  Saturate the radio market.  I think I’ve got the key line for my campaign – “Where would you be…without a ’n’ d ?”

  1. Stephanie says:

    Strangely compelling logic. Where do you stand on the indiscriminate use of ampersands in place of “and”?

  2. I am all for getting D’s the respect that they Deserve, but I think A Already has a little too much use. Here is the real story:

    One day, the A found his time devoted to too many sentences (because letters are really careless about time management). The A had to go work at “That man has taken cash at that bank!” but realized the A also had to spell out “Rock and Roll Concert” and “Fish and Chips Stand.” What was A to do? Well, A decided that the first sentence was most important, or else money may be stolen. So A neglected duty to And, leaving ‘nd. Meanwhile, D was upset that A could shirk duties but D couldn’t. And N was trying to get more attention in this world with 26 letters competing for number one. So D and N decided that D could have the Day off (Imagine that, a day without saying day) and N was emphasized by his friends the apostrophes. Thus ‘n’ was born. And these three letters did in fact live happily ever after. The End.

  3. Tom Threadgill says:

    Lest you forget, down here in the south the “n” also carries the additional burden of replacing the ending ‘g’ in spoken words, and many written ones too. No self-respectin’ Southerner would write “I’m fixing to fix me something to eat.” Properly, one would write, “I’m fixin’ to fix me somethin’ to eat.” Although in all honesty we would add an extra burden on the “n” by completely butchering “something” into “some’n'”.

    • Makya McBee says:

      Stephanie – Good question. My main problem with this thing – & – is that I always found it difficult to form with a pen. It never looked quite right. Like a pretzel with a bite out of it, I’m just not sure it belongs with words. That being said, I don’t actively have a problem with it, but I prefer “and.” I feel that, usually, the ampersand is just a weak attempt to class up a passage.

      Redd – Proof that there is such a thing as taking personification too far…but I enjoy your stories and, as soon as I have kids, I will read it to them at bedtime.

      Tom – Yes, that is an additional issue that must be addressed. I was born in Texas and know well the various southern dialects. I am in favor of maintaining all “g’s” – although I know it won’t be easy.

      • For the record, I am staunchly anti-ampersand — mainly because they are rarely used correctly, and partly because I cannot write one by hand for the life of me. I can whip off a score of treble clefs blindfolded but the art of writing an ampersand evades me.

      • Makya McBee says:

        Stan – No one will abbreviate “but” as ‘u’? That’s what people used to say about “and” and ‘n’…we’re not that far from a world where we drop that “b” and “t” – have you heard the kids talk nowadays? Sure there are languages with no written form, but there are many written languages with no verbal form. Want proof? Too bad, I don’t have any. Besides, “many,” “some,” “none”….it’s all semantics…something you apparently know a thing or two about…anyway, speech may be primary for you, but writing is my primary means of communicating…and the more socially inept bloggers we produce…the more my army grows…

        Heather – Feel free to eat Fish ‘n’ Chips, but when you order, bravely announce, “I will have some Fish and Chips.”

        Stephanie – I have no problem being anti ampersand. My heart isn’t really in it, but I’ll support your cause & stand with you nonetheless.

  4. heathersnyder1 says:

    Don’t forget Cookies ‘n’ Cream ‘n’ it’s infinite possibilities: cakes ‘n’ ice cream ‘n’ cupcakes ‘n’ candy bars ‘n’…’n’…’n’…

    I agree with you on writing out the ampersand. It is just as complicated as drawing a treble clef when writing music. So, I get lazy and it looks like a lop-sided “8” or backwards “S” with a fish hook dangling at the bottom. It’s not pretty.

  5. Stan says:

    Writing follows speech, not the other way around. I’ve never heard anyone pronounce a /d/ in fish ‘n’ chips.

    • Makya McBee says:

      Heather – The ampersand is not for amateurs – it should generally be avoided if possible.

      Stan – What about Rock and Roll/Rock ‘n’ Roll? I submit that the more ‘n’s we allow in the world, the more people feel comfortable converting their and’s…writing follows speech alphabetically, but certainly the two can influence each other, no?

      • Stan says:

        Makya: Yes, they influence each other. But speech is primary. People write “rock ‘n’ roll” because that’s what it sounds like. No one will abbreviate “but” as ‘u’ because it becomes indecipherable that way.

        Many languages have no written form at all. Spelling is a set of conventions, not commandments.

      • heathersnyder1 says:

        I will from this day on avoid the ampersand like the plague. Likewise, I will avoid the ‘n’. But, it’s so hard, I love Fish ‘n’ Chips. I don’t know if I can do this.

  6. Laura4NYC says:

    Coming from someone who uses ‘n’ all the time, by the way. Logically speaking it does not make sense, no, but I still like to do it. Maybe I’ll switch up to ‘and’ after this, though, you def splurged on some great points!

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