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Why are there so many apostrophes in scifi and fantasy names?

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Grammarian Mignon Fogarty takes a look at one of fiction's enduring mysteries: How did all of those apostrophes find their way into the names of aliens, distant lands, and future peoples?

Over at Grammar Girl, Fogarty looks at the influence of writers like Anne McCaffrey andRoger Zelanzy, as well as the possible impact of real-world names, such as Irish surnames and Hawai`i with its ʻokina.


She also has some advice for those who are annoyed by wanton apostrophes:

If you find an apostrophe (or two!) in character names annoying, you may appreciate this little joke: I first heard about it on the Writing Excuses podcast (audio link) in an April Fool’s episode, but it originated on a Live Journal post in Issendai’s Superhero Training Journal in which the Evil Overlady proclaims that apostrophes are to be pronounced “boing.” Therefore, it’s not pronounced F’lar, but rather “F-boing-lar.” So next time you see an annoying apostrophized name, just insert a “boing” for your own amusement.


She does note that she neglected to include the role of H.P. Lovecraft on apostrophes in names, so until I hear otherwise, I'm blaming the Great Old Ones.

Apostrophes in Science Fiction and Fantasy Names [Quick and Dirty Tips]