Whilst there may be fractionally older deities of language, Apostrophilia is the first deity of languages that made sense. Languages that one could use for more than negotiating the sale of your grain and goats. Language that one could use to express the kaleidoscope of human experience. In folklore Apostrophilia is credited with the invention of many useful devices. The most significant of these being the comma, which she is said to have forged from the mythical metal Grammarium in the fires of Mount Weasel. The comma instantly made the world a more civilised place. Way back in pre-history, before the inception of that tiny curvy dot, early humans loved hunting their children and family. Afterwards they loved hunting, their children and family. Which was much less icky.
Although her roots extend back into the ancient middle-east, Apostrophilia first rose to become a significant deity in Ancient Rome. (Sadly, only in a society in which slavery was endemic could and privileged few afford the time to really conjugate). The priesthood of Apostrophilia began to become organised, and to set the rules of language in stone. Literally. Helpful mnemonics are carved into the masonry all over her temples. Such as the slightly creepy, “Of things you’ve done the verbs will tell, like gaze and twitch and stroke and swell.”
When you visit Apostrophilia’s temple, there is a little ritual you must undergo in order to enter. One must knock twice, and a priest within will ask “Who’s there”. You must give the response “To”. This allows the priest the gratification of completely ruining the punchline by responding “To whom?” Thus satisfied, they will grant you admission. The owls that roost in the temple tower have overheard this ritual so many times that they all now hoot “Twit to whom”.
Once inside you can meet the temple panther known as “Claws” and the backup deputy panther called “Subordinate Claws”. When “Claws” passes away, “Subordinate Claws” will ascend to his post. Not, however, before a minute’s silence is held. There is always a pause at the end of a “Claws”.
Beneath the temple, extending in a hundred mile loop beneath the earth, is the Large Infinitive Collider or LIC. In one direction, a verb is accelerated to a pace approaching the speed of light. In the opposite direction the word “to” is impelled to a similar pace. The aim is to make them collide, splitting the infinitive, in hopes of discovering the Higgs-Adverb. It is hoped that the discovery of this “Goddess Particle” will explain why mankind keeps attempting to boldly go where no man has gone before.
Even deeper below the temple, beneath the LIC, lies the dreaded Gaol of Apostrophilia. Only the most dangerous life serving prisoners are incarcerated here. Such as those who cannot comprehend the affects or effects of their actions. They have been convicted following intense questioning during an orgy. A practice known as an “interabang”. The prison’s security is renowned. Prisoners never, ever get out. This is because you cannot end a sentence with a preposition.
All religions have at least one old dogmatic rule, that doesn’t really work in the modern age, and is only sporadically adhered to. The faith of Apostrophilia has hundreds of these. Possibly the most famous is that old chestnut “I before E except after C.” Spelling rules like this never really work because humans are gregarious and feisty. Therefore, many languages adopt weird foreign words from the sovereign tongues of their neighbours. So it is impossible to apply any kind of scientific method to it. Nonetheless, extremist Apostrophiliacs (known as “Grammar Nazis”) loathe atheists, and have declared their souls forfeit*!
Priests of Apostrophilia always serve in pairs. This is why they are known as Co-Rectors. They tend to be academic types who go pale and faint if taken out of the library and placed in the great outdoors. They are well known for being wan with nature. Their duties include officiating at rituals and running a pastoral proofreading service for their parishioners. This is done to ensure high linguistic standards are maintained. The service is extremely popular, and long queues usually form. Fortunately, if you are known to already have a good standard of literacy (and therefore your copy will be quite quick to check), you will be allowed to use the “Ten errors or FEWER lane”. They also run a counselling service where they will console a troubled mind by gently murmuring “There, their, they’re”, or reward personal progress by exclaiming, “Well, done? Well-done. Well done!”
As aficionados of literature, followers of Apostrophilia often stage classic plays in the temple hall. They once produced Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” with hilarious consequences. The ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future got their cues confused and walked on stage at the same moment! It was the most tense situation ever.
Most faiths have standardised ceremonies for life’s rites of passage. Births, weddings, burials and so forth. Apostrophiliacs are considered extremely progressive as they have a metaphorical rebirth ritual to celebrate gender reassignment. The transgender person is considered to have commenced the new phase in their life when, at the height of the ceremony, the Co-Rectors declare, “I now pronouns you (They/He/She)”, and the congregation applaud in joyful celebration. In stark contrast, Apostrophiliac marriage rituals come under heavy derision from critics of the faith. Each prospective partner must apply to the other in writing, including a CV and covering letter. These will be thoroughly proof read by the opposite partner’s family and the officiating Co-Rectors. Permission to wed will only be granted if both applications are flawlessly composed. There are dark whispers that this is a subtle and pernicious attempt to practice eugenics. It certainly makes it more difficult for the illiterate to breed.
All are welcome to join the faith of Apostrophilia. Except greengrocer’s and their really possessive vegetable’s.
Thank you to Robin Lawrence for suggesting Apostrophilia.
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