Sunday, September 23, 2007

On the use of 'n as an abbreviation for "and" or "ing"


A Google search for "abbreviation n 'and' ing" turned up nothing. But I was curious if the way I've seen "rock and roll" abbreviated as rock 'n roll was widely and commonly used. I'd also seen that local country band Still Kick'n had made the same choice where abbreviating "ing". (Their domain name is of course stillkickn.com. Also, the bar where they were playing here recently apparently felt the need to write Still Kickin on the marquee because their letter pack probably didn't come with apostrophes. The name of the bar is Forty-Niner Bye-Bye. To make matters confusing, in the bar's ad space in The Illinois Times, the band is spelled STILL KICKN', and at the Still Kick'n web site the bar is listed as "The 49'er" under upcoming shows, a kind of use of the apostrophe I won't even go into here.)

The use of 'n for "and" or "ing" is of course totally different from writing still kickin', which seems to me more closely follows the rule of abbreviations that the appostrophe takes the place of the dropped letter(s), as with "Oh no you didn't!". A Google search for "rock n roll" turned up rock 'n' roll (the way I have written it in the past, following the rule), rock-n-roll, Rock"N"Roll, Rock'n'Roll, as well as rock 'n roll.

My point I suppose, despite my inconsistent use of quotation marks in this post, is the variety and inconsistency here. I think people make different choices based on how they feel it looks and that there is no written grammatical rule governing the use of apostrophes, quotation marks, or hyphens in place of the outer letters of "and" or "ing".

Which reminds me, I saw a license plate frame the other day on a loud, giant-tired, souped up Ford pick up truck that read EAT'N RAMS / SHIT'N CHEVYS. Only based on these case studies, perhaps 'n is more common than most forms of such abbreviations. In any case, if the owner of said truck or another owner of such a plate frame through some chance ever reads this post, I will only say that the message implies too strange a magic truck digestion system for me, but I like the apostrophes!

4 comments:

Manx said...

I bet the "49'er" on the Still Kick'n website was retaliation for the Forty-Niner messing their name up twice.

And the war continues...

Splotchy said...

Anyone who uses hyphens in the phrase rock 'n roll is a f'in'-pussy.

timdrussell said...

manx, totally. The bar is risking people showing up wanting the band with the apostrophe after the N. Those folks are in for a severe disappointment.

splotchy, agreed, and did you notice how Frank Zappa's mustache is shaped like an apostrophe? Heck, his whole facial hair looks like one big emoticon.

The Old Punk said...

I came across your post in a semi-random fashion (as you do) and thought I'd add a little bit more info.

According to the Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations (1993) it should be written as rock 'n' roll with the apostrophes, as the a and d are removed from the word 'and' (source - http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O25-n2.html). As a grammar pedant, this is the rule I follow :)