Got to stop with the glottal stops

Ew… is that a patch of mildew?

My apologies, dear blog, for abandoning you.

I was never very good at keeping things alive. Let me scrub that mildew off of you and let’s try to start anew.

Paul Muad’Dib, protagonist of Dune by Frank Herbert

Today, I spent a good chunk of my life researching how to insert glottal stops into my short story. Surely it can’t be as simple as an apostrophe, I thought, googling frantically. Well, it is. Mission of wasting time—accomplished.

I’m still a little torn about these sneaky little things. There was a time I vowed I’d never have them in my stories because they can be ultra-distracting. They’re probably on everyone’s top ten list of annoying tropes that appear in science-fiction fantasy stories. If they happen to appear in a character’s name, I’ll forget the character’s actual name but remember that it had a glottal stop in it and that the narrator in my head probably hacked out an imaginary hairball while trying to pronounce the name. I will then proceed to hold a grudge against that character whenever they appear on the page, a grudge that only promises to grow every time I stumble anew on that little extra floating hook in their name. Spoken aloud, it adds a wonderfully interesting and distinctive flavor to the words. But, written down to be read, the glottal stop can be downright annoying.

Anyway, as a writer striving to be a responsible user of glottal stops in writing I resolutely kept them out of any names. I have, however, inserted them into my fantasy version of ‘Mother’ and ‘Father’ to give my civilization a Polynesian flavor. Then, to prevent my complete degeneration into a chicken clucking around the submit button, I sent my story off into the void, ‘okinas and all.

I have this sinking feeling of regret, now, that the editors will feel that I used the glottal stop apostrophe in a trite manner as a short cut to exotifying my story or something. Let’s hope I did a good enough job so they don’t think I savaged the apostrophe.

Ah, well. What’s done is done. No point in fretting.



  1. Love a glottal stop! Have no regrets!

    I remember reading a thing a while ago that mentioned that the two English-speaking groups who notably use a lot of glottal stops — New Yorkers and Cockneys — can’t pronounce the word “glottal” properly. :p

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