An appeal to programmers. Computing vs Culture

  Phrixos 13:08 08 Mar 08

I'm one of that small but significant number of people in the world (Irish) who have an apostophe in their name. (It begins with O' .) Little did I know, when entering the computer age, what trouble that little mark in my name would cause me.

At first, I had the devil's own trouble with my credit card—which, whether through employee ignorance, laziness, or downright apathy, came through my letterbox with my name spelt wrongly—without the apostrophe. Irritating enough, I let that slide—until I tried and consistently failed to purchase things online, from many companies. Their software, you see, simply would not accept a name with an apostrophe in it! (Curiously, often, the same sites would accept the apostrophe when registering—just not when entering banking details.)

The process, you see, involves entering a name "exactly as it appears on the card"—which did not match the name on my bank account. This left me with a hateful alternative, of having ("simply") to drop the apostrope from my name, or fighting to get the companies involved, to get them to change their software.

NO CONTEST! How would YOU like some total stranger wantonly to change the spelling of YOUR name? The pure arrogance of it causes me to flinch.

"We of the apostrophe" have had this little foible as part of our culture for a thousand years. It is part of who we are. Why should I or any other apostrophile fall at the feet of nameless programmers who are too ignorant or crass to realize it's importance? It is up to the programmers to change their software. I know it's possible. I've seen it, in the USA.

The latest hassle, I have just changed to Sky Broadband--who, you guessed it--will not allow me to have the apostrophe in my email address. Of course I don't HAVE to stay with Sky (except that I am contracted for a year) but who is Sky, anyway, to tell me how to spell my name?

As I understand it, Sky is an English owned and run company. The English, remember, were (once?) famous for such cultural crassness--most resoundingly so when it came to the Irish. The rumour is, that that kind of cultural insensitivity stopped a generation ago. Well, I'm not so sure.

The problem is in the nature of digital code. It itself is like a virus, with the capacity to spread like one. I've been with Sky for three days and ALREADY I'm getting mail through my letterbox with the apostrophe missing from my name.

Listen, guys and gals. When you write your software, remember. For many people across the globe, an apostrophe is, to all intents, a letter.

We want our names back!

  Forum Editor 13:34 08 Mar 08

into your own history - you have not had an apostrophe "as part of our culture for a thousand years" at all.

The apostrophe in your name is actually a fairly recent (in historical terms) substitute for the correct Irish Ó which means 'grandson' as in Ó Mháille (now O'Malley). It is you, the Irish, who stopped using the correct spelling of your names, not the "nameless programmers who are too ignorant or crass to realize it's importance"

Nobody on the planet can use an apostrophe in an email address - it has nothing whatever to do with SKY, as you seem to think.

I suggest that you get off your high horse, stop referring to the 'cultural crassness' of the English, and learn a little about your own cultural crassness in misunderstanding the origins of the spelling of your own name.

  rdave13 14:16 08 Mar 08

Something similar with the name SIÔN (Shaun) in Welsh. Nobody really bothers with the "^" above the "O" any more as people understand to stress the "O" in the name. Also easier to print.

  iambeavis 14:33 08 Mar 08

you are not alone - click here

  Forum Editor 15:49 08 Mar 08

began with the British, who put it there because they believed the O looked odd without a link to the rest of the name. Many Gaelic speakers in Ireland refuse to carry an apostrophe, considering it a vestige of colonial days."

Gosh, that 1000 years went quickly.

  interzone55 17:07 08 Mar 08

When my employer merged with another company we all had our email addresses changed to the new company name.

Previously our addresses had been intialsurname e.g. jsmith

Our new email addresses are the more usual firstname.surname so the IT department simply ran a routine to create the addresses and accounts by running through the current employee address book and creating a new address made up of firstname.surname, but they did this without thinking it through properly, because all employees with o' surnames suddenly found that no-one could reply to any of their emails because they had a malformed email address. It took a lot longer to fix this situation than it would have done to do it right in the first place.

  Earthsea 18:31 08 Mar 08
  Phrixos 20:19 08 Mar 08

Ok, one thing at a time.

I apolgise for getting narky, but this long irksome issue has come to a head and I am, quite frankly, fed up about it.

Forum Editor:

1. Yes. you are right--but only sort of--since (prior to the birth of ASCII code) the difference between the Ó (O with a "fada") and with an apostrophe was a factor of the keyboard. So, how old is the fada then? I suggest you too do a little research. If only it would not subject her to a torrent of spam, or worse, I could give you my sister's email address in the USA, who does indeed have an apostrophe in her email address. A fullstop is an option. So is a comma, a dash--and, I believe, an underscore. Why not an apostrophe?

I regret too, I thought I had made it clear, Sky (or its programming associates) is not the only company who has not thought to allow for the apostrophe. You yourself are under the false impression that "nobody on the planet" allows it.

2. As for who made who stop using it, and why, you argument does severe injustice to the countless generations of Irish schoolchildren who commonly had their heads caved and their bottoms skinned, by their British teachers--for the offence of having been caught speaking their own language. There's cultural crassness for you. (If you want it, I could fill up all of pcadvisors' storage capacity on such things, but I too do not want to go that far.)

A small handfull of people--perhaps only one person, but a culturally clueless person nevertheless--somebody, a computer programmer, didn't think past the end of his nose. As the result, I am loosing my name--the way I like it, the way I have always known it--and I want it back!

Iambevis: Thank you, thank you, thank you, for that link! Now, Sean ODriscoll and others can drop the apostrophe if they want to. It's up to them. Sadly the Irish today seem hell bent on demolishing their own culture. (Remember Wood Quay!) I, however, am not one of them. The British may have "substituted" the apostophe for the fada. So be it. You can call it a fada if you want--but can you seriously tell me computer programmes would recognize a fada?

EarthSea. Thank you took for your effort. I could be wrong, but at first impression the Apostrophe Protection Society seems interested only in its correct use in sentences.

Hight horse?
What's the problem here?
History or otherwise, my name is my name, and NOBODY BUT ME HAS THE RIGHT TO CHANGE IT!

  rdave13 20:55 08 Mar 08

As a fellow Celt I noticed that you ignored my posting as you had no reply to it. The 'to bach' ie "^" was part of Welsh literature, similar to your apostrophe but more integral to the written word. Through 'progress' and the modern electronic world my language, same as others, has had to adapt and through adapting, to survive, the 'to bach' has largely disappeared. You can either accept it or refuse to live with modern technology. Simple choice really.

  Phrixos 22:43 08 Mar 08

I'm sorry, rdave13, but I got carried away. Certainly no intention to ignore. I just missed your post.

Incidentally, I returned to the forum just now, to apologise. I'm not often so irritable--except where some one or some thing attempts to diminish me--at which I fight like a tiger.

As well as being about culture, this issue is about control. Who, exactly, is in control of how I (being "Anyman") see myself. Me--or some nameless, faceless, culturally deprived, semi-educated software programmer who can't be bothered to consider anyone outside his own blinkered vision of the world?

We live in the so-called "age of the computer"--but what on earth are computers good for, anyway, if they can't do something as simple as spelling a person's name correctly?

I really have to say, with regard to those of you of what I call the "so what?" persuasion, even though you have the right to that point of view, I feel sorry for you--while at the same time resenting that, because YOU don't care who or what diminishes YOU, no one else should, either.

There's no honor in that.

  Phrixos 23:04 08 Mar 08

A point I left out:

This issue is not about acceeding to the demands of a new age or technology. It's about not cowering to the evils that hide behind those things--such as the laziness and the apathy. The computer does not DEMAND not to recognize names containing an apostophe. Someone simply forgot.

That's all.

That, and the fact that nobody wants to bother changing it--out of, what: laziness, apathy, crassness. You choose.

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

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