When writing in the English language, we use apostrophes to:
– indicate possession (man’s car)
– indicate plural of lowercase letter and help avoid ambiguity (cross the t’s)
– indicate omitted letters in contracted words (don’t)
With the number of punctuation rules that we need to observe including apostrophes, even professional writers are sometimes confused and commit the same mistakes like many of us.
But that is for those who write in English. For those who write in Tagalog, we do not have the same problem in observing rules for apostrophes to indicate possession and plurality.
We don’t use apostrophes to indicate possession. We use the long form like: Ang oto ng mama (for man’s car or the car belonging to the man). We use words like akin, amin, kanila, kaniya, and other possessive pronouns to indicate possession.
We also don’t use apostrophes to indicate plurality of lowercase letters. We use mga to show the plural form of a word. Example: Ekesin ang mga letrang t (Cross all t’s).
The third use of apostrophes – to indicate omitted letters in contracted words – is very much applied when writing in Tagalog. Hardly would you find a sentence in Tagalog without contracted words. For example, we write kami’y for kami ay and ako’y for ako ay. And contraction of words is very much in use in poetry and lyrical compositions where syllables are metricated.
That is the theory anyway. But based on what we have seen in the recent times, it looks like this use of apostrophes is also being abandoned. I have seen the following contractions in a number of articles:
akoy, meaning ako’y (ako ay) ?
kamiy, meaning kami’y (kami ay) ?
silay, meaning sila’y (sila ay) ?
sayo, meaning sa’yo (sa iyo) ?
sanyo, meaning sa’nyo (sa inyo) ?
sakin, meaning sa’kin (sa akin) ?
Is this a result of text-ing? Have we been so used to dropping apostrophes in a 160-character restricted SMS setting that in the process we no longer know how to use apostrophes in non-SMS writings?
While others may argue that the purpose of writing is communication and that if contracted words, with or without apostrophes, are understood, then that’s okay.
Is it really okay? Let’s examine this sentence: “Nais kong mamatay.” A not-too-good example, I know.
Is kong a contraction of ko and ng or ko and ang? With the first usage, the sentence means: “I want to die already.” With the second usage, it means: “I want to die.”
Same contraction. Two different meanings.
Side note: If the intended meaning is the first one, then the two words should not be contracted in the first place. By contracting the two words into kong, the word could also mean “mine” — making the sentence more confusing, and even meaningless!
What do you think? Should we abandon the use of apostrophes when writing in Tagalog?