Apostrophes 'too hard, outdated'

A proposal has been put to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to remove the apostrophe from the study of English for Australian students entering primary school from 1 January 2020.

'The apostrophe is an outdated punctuation mark,' says Mark Guillemets, lead author of the proposal. 'For most students entering school in the next decade, the majority of their communication will be via SMS or email - mediums that already omit apostrophes in most circumstances.'

The proposal cites research that shows employing apostrophes to indicate possession is confusing for more than 80% of students. The authors argue that, even at tertiary level, the use of apostrophes by students is random at best. They also say that, when used in contractions, the apostrophe is implied in most cases and is therefore redundant.

In Britain, recent research identified the apostrophe as the punctuation mark that causes people the most problems. Nearly half of the population struggles with it.

'By killing off the apostrophe, we will be doing the English language a huge favour,' says Guillemets. 'The overuse of apostrophes is rife. We even see it in newspapers nowadays. And perfectly competent small business owners are being ridiculed on a daily basis just because they haven't mastered the correct use of the apostrophe. Some councils around the world have already abolished apostrophes in street signs. We understand in spoken English when a word is a contraction or possessive. So why couldn't that work exactly the same way in written English?'

ACARA would not comment on the proposal, but Guillemets expects that by this time in 2020 we will no longer be celebrating April Fools' Day, but April Fools Day.