In another post I mentioned that, while Susan and I have lived quite happily in the South for the past six years, we are actually both native Upstate New Yorkers. I, for one, have spent 29 of my 35 years on the good ol’ Earth in Syracuse.
Nevertheless, I do subscribe somewhat to the "When in Rome" philosophy, and I have come accordingly to love many of the traditional Southern figures of speech. So much so, in fact, that over time I have grown overly protective of some. Therefore, it irks me to no end when I see "y'all" spelled "ya'll" in print by some misinformed folks.
So—for the record, let a born-n-bred Yankee of all people clarify this situation:
It is not ya'll, but y'all, y'all.
Of course, “y’all” is a contraction for “you all,” in case anyone from outside the U.S.A. did not know this already. This “y’all situation” actually serves as a nice segue to the subject of often misapplied and/or misused contractions. In particular, in this post I would like to address the use of apostrophes when used in the omission of letters. Viz:
Music of '90s rather than Music of the 90s
Bundles o' Fun rather than Bundles 'o Fun
Do you see the difference between the first (incorrect) example and the second correct example in each previous line? The underlying punctuation rule at play here is that the apostrophe character should be applied on the side of the word that is being truncated, or shortened. For the term "Rock 'n' Roll," we are actually truncating the word "and" on both sides; therefore, the apostrophe is applied on either side of the word.
I'm probably going to get flak from some readers who will accuse me of trying to be an armchair English professor when I am actually nothing more than a professional educator/certified technonerd who is fortunate enough to have written and published several thousand pages of copy. The only things that I have going for me in this regard are that I have (a) great teachers; (b) great students; (c) a passion for the English language; and (d) time to devote to the craft of writing and reading.