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Apostrophes In Other Languages

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Apostrophes In Other Languages

The Use of Apostrophes in Other Languages

  • In many European languages, the apostrophe is used to indicate omitted characters, often in a contraction. For example, in the Portuguese language or Spanish language it is used when de (of) can elide with the following word, like galinha d'angola (literally, Angola's chicken) or some poetical constructions, like minh'alma, contraction of "minha alma" (my soul). In Spanish language it is used when a consonant or vowel is not pronounced, e.g. Pa' (para, for), pa'l (para el, for the), to' (todo, all), to'l (todo el, all the), comi'o (comido, ate), vamo' (vamos, we go), etc.
  • In German, this is very similar: an apostrophe is only used to indicate omitted letters. It must not be used for plurals or possessive forms, both usages which are widespread, but deemed wrong. (See article Apostrophitis in the German Wikipedia.)
  • In the Dutch language, it is also used to indicate omitted characters. In addition however, it is used for plurals where the singulars end with certain vowels, e.g. foto's, taxi's, and for the genitive of proper names ending with these vowels, e.g. Anna's, Otto's.
  • In the Slovak and Czech languages, common typographic rendering (at least for some typefaces) of caron over lowercase t, d, l, and uppercase L consonants (ď, ť, ľ, Ľ) looks a lot like an apostrophe, but it is very incorrect to use apostrophe instead (compare previous example with incorrect d', t', l', L'). In Slovak, there is also l with acute accent (ĺ, Ĺ). In Slovak, it is used to indicate elision in certain words ("tys'" as an abbreviated form of "ty si"), however, these elisions are restricted to poetry.
  • In the Belarusian and Ukrainian languages, the apostrophe is used between a consonant and the following “soft” (iotified) vowel (е, ё, є, ю, я) to indicate that no palatalization of the preceding consonant takes place, and the vowel is pronounced in the same way as at the beginning of the word. The same function is served by the hard sign in some other Cyrillic alphabets.
  • In some transliterations from the Cyrillic alphabet (of Belarusian, Russian, or Ukrainian language), the apostrophe is used to replace the soft sign (ь, indicating palatalization of the preceding consonant), e.g., Русь is transliterated Rus’ according to the BGN/PCGN system. Confusingly, some of these transliteration schemes use a double apostrophe ( ” ) to represent the apostrophe in Cyrillic text, e.g. Ukrainian слов’янське (“Slavic”) is transliterated as slov”yans’ke.
  • Some Karelian orthographies use an apostrophe to indicate palatalization, e.g. n'evvuo "to give advice", d'uuri "just (like)", el'vtti "to revive".
  • In some languages it represents the glottal stop (as in Hawai'i, see ‘okina) or similar sounds in the Turkic language and in romanizations of Arabic languages. Sometimes this function is performed by the opening single quotation mark.
  • In Guaran it performs the same function but it's considered a different letter on its own, called puso (/pu'so/), as in the words e'ẽ, ka'a, a' ỹ.
  • In Finnish, one of the consonant gradation patterns is the change of a 'k' into a hiatus, e.g. keko → keon "a pile → pile's". This hiatus has to be indicated in spelling with an apostrophe, if a long vowel or a diphthong would be immediately followed by the final vowel, e.g. ruoko → ruo'on, vaaka → vaa'an. (This is in contrast to compound words, where the same problem is solved with a hyphen, e.g. maa-ala "land area".) The same meaning for an apostrophe, a hiatus, is used in poetry to indicate contractions, e.g. miss' on for miss on "where is".
  • In the Hnyǔ Pīnyīn (pinyin) system of romanization for Standard Mandarin, the apostrophe is used to separate syllables in a word where ambiguity could arise.
In Jrriais, one of the uses of the apostrophe is to mark gemination. For example, t't represents a long /t/, s's a long /s/, n'n a long /n/, th'th a long //, and ch'ch a long /ʃ/.