apostrophe creep

Apostrophe’s insert themselves in my writing at inappropriate places. I know the rules of their use, I promise (for possessives, not plurals. Permissible to indicate omission, etc) but they just seem to come out. My explicit knowledge isn’t enough to make my procedural knowledge, as expressed through the faster-than-deliberate-thought action of typing, obey. I hypothesise that although my deliberative consciousness has learn the rules of apostrophe use, which are defined at the syntactic and semantic level, my procedural motor system is more vulnerable to low-level statistical features of writing — such as that apostrophes often come immediately before an ‘s’ at the end of the word. Presumably some words have a sequence of letters which trigger my ‘end of word’ pattern (for example the stem ‘apostophe’, which ends, like many words, in an e) and when I go to add an ‘s’ the ‘use apostrophe’ pattern is also, although in appropriately, triggered. This is galling because I hate reading writing with inappropriately placed apostrophes, but I also find it interesting. What is interesting is that typing, like speaking, is a complex action which is overlearnt, but flexible, which is in obeyance of conscious goals, but which the bulk of the details of enactions are unconscious. This unconscious realm isn’t merely motor, not just how I type or speak the words, but it reaches up to include what words I type or say, even what precise meanings I come out with. Hence the phrase “How can I know what I think until I see what I say”.

One reply on “apostrophe creep”

for some time now i have noticed that i often mix up the the words ‘i’ and ‘a’ both when i type and when i text. my only hypothesis is that they are both single letter words and for some reason my motor programs for them both have become mixed up. either that or i am unable to distinguish myself from an indefinite article…

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