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"Note to would-be adventure authors: When making up names, note that the apostrophe is not some sort of universal stand-in for vowels. Stop doing that."
Shamus Young, Chainmail Bikini #1

One of the easiest ways to give an exotic or alien spin to words intended to have originated from an exotic language is to sprinkle it liberally with unexpected punctuation marks. Most often, this is done with apostrophes, perhaps because it appears in such a wide variety of purposes in various real languages that one might figure something would have to fit in a pinch.

This trope may not apply when punctuation or tongue-clicks are a natural part of the language the story is written in; linguistics may even treat them as unique letters in their own right. Most commonly, though, no actual purpose for these marks ever crystallizes; they serve merely as a form of visual seasoning that may not ever be acknowledged in actual pronunciation. In other languages, an apostrophe usually means a glottal stop (we mean glo'al), an aspirated consonant, such as in Mandarin Chinese names Latinized in Wade-Giles (see examples below in the "Real Life" section), or ejectives, which English speakers would probably be most familiar with as "beatboxing sounds", and do differ in pronunciation from unapostrophized text.

After the apostrophe, the second most common punctuation mark is the diaeresis/umlaut (two different diacritics but both indicated by ẗwö döẗs övër ä lëẗẗër). In real life, the umlaut is used to indicate a difference in pronunciation (for example in German: fallen "to fall," fällen "to fell"), and a diaeresis is used to indicate that two vowels are pronounced separately rather than forming a diphthong (for example coop, as in the thing chickens live in, vs "coöp", an archaic way of writing co-op, a short form of cooperative). Its use in fantasy was probably popularized by J. R. R. Tolkien (like many fantasy devices), who used it a lot; he used acute and circumflex accents even more (although notably, he never used apostrophes in his conlangs). However, Tolkien was a linguistics professor, and these came from actual grammatical and orthographic rules within his over half a dozen complete invented languages, and so served a real purpose.

See also Lucky Charms Title, Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut and Law of Alien Names.


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    An'ime & M'ang'a 
  • Cannon God Exaxxion: The Riofaldian language contains apostrophes to disguise that many Riofaldian characters & machines are inexplicably named after various Earth things. Scieżka (Polish for Path) becomes Shes'Ka, Anvil becomes An'Viru, Kaiser becomes Kas'Ar, & so on.
  • Xam'd: Lost Memories features an apostrophe in Xam'd, which is the name of a whole species of... big-armed, pointy-headed ''things''.
  • Touhou Bougetsushou: The Moon Rabbit who crash lands at the Hakurei Shrine and is later adopted by the Watatsukis is commonly referred to as Rei'sen. This actually has a meaning, though, because she was named after another Reisen (who was their original pet), who debuted in Imperishable Night. The original Reisen changed the spelling of her name to better fit in with Earth, so the most common way to differentiate the two is to transliterate the Earth spelling as Reisen and the Lunar spelling as Rei'sen.

    Au'di'o Pla'ys 
  • The Big Finish Doctor Who stories feature a villain named "the Kro'ka", in whose name the apostrophe seems to represent a subtle glottal stop. There's also an alien companion whose nayme is C'rizz. It's pronounced like "Carys", a legitimate Welsh name it's sometimes (understandably) misspelled as. He's also got a deceased girlfriend named L'da, in whose name the apostrophe represents the bit where there's sort of a pause or maybe a schwa to make up for the effects of her species' tragic vowel deficiency.note 

    C'omic Boo'ks 
  • The DCU:
    • Martian characters and locales contain at least one apostrophe: J'onn J'onzz, Ma'alefa'ak, K'ymm, H'ronmeer, L'Zoril', Zo'ok, Ma'aleca'andra.
    • Teen Titans aliens, the Tamaraneans, also use apostrophes; Koriand'r (Starfire) and her sister Komand'r (Blackfire).
    • Wonder Woman:
      • Wonder Woman (1942): When "Glitch" attempts to say his name it is depicted with apostrophes and a colon, and he is quite happy to have humans use the nickname "Glitch" rather than attempt to pronounce it.
      • Diana's a sister Nubia's name was changed to Nu'bia in the Post-Crisis continuity.
      • H'Elgn is an elderly Velosian who becomes a Space Pirate Revolutionary mechanic in Wonder Woman (1987).
    • Superman:
    • In The Flash, there's a minor villain known as the Kilg%re (an alien technovirus). Nominally, the percent sign should be pronounced as a burst of static, though Linda Park guessed the pronunciation as "Kilgolore", and the fanbase usually just calls it "Kilgore".
    • Batman's recurring antagonist Ra's al-Ghul is a relatively restrained example, which didn't stop a parodic story in Batman: Black and White depicting him as a punctuation-obsessed master criminal named R'a's a'l G'h'u'l.
    • The Warlord (DC): Y'Smalla (a villainess who was a relatively late addition to the series) is the only major character with a punctuation mark in their name.
  • Judge Dredd: The real name of Dredd's arch-enemy, Judge Death, is apparently Sidney D'Eath. (Which is, at least, a real surname. It's a contraction of "de Eath" that rhymes with "teeth", and most folks who bear it hate to hear people pronounce it "Death".) Sidney himself explains that it's pronounced "Daath". The 'E' is silent.
  • Sugar Shock has a character named L'lihdra.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • X-Men's Shi'ar Empire. The Shi'ar named the M'Kraan Crystal, which is generally accepted to be 'EM-kron', with few exceptions; Marvel Ultimate Alliance has it pronounced "Muh-KRAAN".
    • The Shi'ar like to invoke their gods Sharra and K'ythri and used to be ruled by the crazed Majestor D'ken. And they got very angry when the Dark Phoenix destroyed the D'bari system.
    • Another of Marvel's recurring alien races also likes apostrophes in their names, e. g. former empress R'klll and K'lrt, better known as the Super-Skrull. Marvel also has another alien race called the Z'nox and a race of demons called the N'garai.
    • On Marvel Earth, apostrophes abound in African settings, e. g. the Black Panther is T'challa, son of T'chaka, while his enemy the White Gorilla is M'baku. Storm's Kenyan mother was called N'daré.
    • Iron Fist is from the Shangri La-like Himalayan country of K'un-Lun.
    • Parodied in Sensational Spider-Man with an ancient beast known as the Che-k'n Kau.
  • Played with in Asterix, where the Vikings' language is represented by French (English in the English translation) with a "Scandinavized" orthography - "a" becomes "å" and "o" an "ø". Asterix tries to communicate with them by peppering his dialogue with the Scandinavian diacritical signs, but they can't understand him because he puts them on the wrong letters.
    • Double Subverted in the Finnish translation - where the Finnish letters ä, o and ö are substituted with æ, å; and ø, but not the proper a's. The reason is that æ, å and ø represent the same phonemes in Norwegian orthography as ä, o and ö in Finnish, and all Finnish readers are aware of it.
  • The Great Power of Chninkel: Chninkel names all seem to be built like this. There's Jo'n, G'wel, Ar'th, N'om, and many others. Since the one true god O'ne also has a name like this, it's likely a reference to Jewish names ending in -el (Michael, Ezekiel, etc.) meaning "of God". O'ne seems to have a particular interest in the Chninkel above all other races.

    C'omic Str'ips 
  • Zits has Pierce's girlfriend, D'ijon. Her real name is Dionne, but she changed it in the seventh grade. After she told this to Pierce, he thought it was cool and suggested that she start calling him "P'ierce". Her answer: "N'o."

    Fa'n W'orks 

    Fi'lms — L'ive-Ac'tion 
  • Parodied in Galaxy Quest with the Big Bad named "Sarris Roth'h'ar". Also Dr. Lazarus is a Mak'Tar, a humanoid species from the planet Tev'Meck.
  • Black Panther: As in the comics, apostrophes are common with masculine Wakandan names: T'Chaka, T'Challa, M'Baku, W'Kabi, N'Jobu, N'Jadaka... Partly justified as apostrophes translitterate implosive consonants which occurs frequently in sub-saharian languages.

  • J. H. Brennan, of GrailQuest fame, also wrote a series of gamebooks starring a barbarian named Fire*Wolf.

  • An old snark inside the SF/F fandom is that it is actually very easy to distinguish Zhienze Phyctshjon and Fántà'sÿ.

  • The second printing of Vernor Vinge's short story "Conquest by Default" begins with an author's note explaining that it was written immediately after taking a linguistics course, and that the @ and % symbols in the aliens' names correspond to phonemes humans can almost produce. Vinge apologizes for this. He wanted and (the aliens can close their noses to make true nasal stops); his editor said "Fine, if you'll pay to cut the type for them." Nowadays it should be easy.
  • Aurora Cycle: There are a few names mentioned as being split by apostrophes, but by far the most important is the Ra'haam.
  • The Banned and the Banished series is made of this trope. Every name of a race or magic thingy is the standard English with an apostrophe randomly dropped him. (For instance, the first book is called Wit'ch Fire.)
  • One character in Borgel by Daniel Pinkwater spells his name with an asterisk, in an overlap with The Unpronounceable.
    "I am Pak Nfbnm*," the little man said.
  • Chess With a Dragon:
    "They're called Rh/attes."
    "No, Rh/attes. The / is silent."
  • Circleverse: The Traders are called the Tsaw'ha in their own language.
  • The Crimson Shadow: Brind'Amour and Belsen'Krieg.
  • R'lyeh and other things related to the Great Old Ones in H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.
  • In the Dark Hunters series by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dream Hunters are assigned an honorific depending on their role. These honorifics take the form of "M'" for enforcers and judges, "V'" for those who protect humans, and "D'" for those which protect gods and immortals. The honorific is placed at the front of the name. Most characters don't know this however, so will simply treat it as a normal name (M'Adoc pronounced Madoc for example). The name need not start with a vowel (as seen with D'Ravyk) and the honorific may be ignored entirely (Leta, Delphine).
  • The Discworld novel The Colour of Magic features dragonriders with exclamation marks in the middle of their names, in a sequence parodying McCaffrey. The narration finally tells us it represents the same sort of sound it does in African languages.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe:
    • The People have three exclamation-marked letters in their language, !X, !C and !Q. They are at least more than cosmetic - they represent three different click sounds, as used in real human languages. Their names also use random capitals, which don't seem to mean anything particular.
    • Every vowel in the Metatraxi language has a corresponding punctuation mark that must be added after it. This gives us such names as skSki%ro+tho+ha=ve>n and qQqa=mo+rna=t.
  • Shows up sometimes in the Dragaera series, generally for ancient names that are unpronounceable by most in-series. For example, there's a healer named Hwdfr'jaanci in Orca, Sethra Lavode's servant Dri'Chazik a Tukknaro Dzur (generally known as Chaz or Tukko), and an evil god called Tri'nagore. In the last case, and possibly the others, the apostrophe seems to function as it would in a contraction, as the god's full name is Tristangrascalaticrunagore.
  • The probable Trope Codifier is Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series of novels, in which dragon-riders' names are shortened and apostrophized, as an honorific, when they become bonded with a dragon. Since dragon-rider is usually a hereditary post, their parents give them names meant to be apostrophized easily — Fallarnon and Famanoran, for example, becoming F'lar and F'nor.
    • In one instance, a boy named Jaxom is accidentally bonded to a dragon hatchling; he's exempted from the custom, partly because nobody can figure out where to put the apostrophe and leave something pronounceable.
    • Also, the dragonrider L'tol changes his name back to Lytol when his dragon is killed.
    • Random trivia: The intent of the tradition is to make the name easy to remember/pronounce when shouted.
    • The tradition was quite literally started by the riders' own dragons slurring their names under pressure
    • Strangely enough, female riders' names are left as they are. It could be that eliding the already-short female names would be redundant (Moreta, Leri, Mirrim, Lessa, etc), or simply because most females don't have such a constant need to be marked as "special".
  • The Last Dragon Chronicles:
    • Dragons are fond of the traditional apostrophe (see: Things like "G'ravity" and "G'lant"). Ix go for the exotic and rarely-seen ː, in things like Ixːrisor and Premːix.
    • A lot of things in Fire World have colons in them, to a vast extent. To name a few, there's the world itself, Co:pern:ica, with machinery known as Com:puters, and they can send E:coms with them. Harlan teaches Phy:sics, and has a Tech:nician, Benard.
  • Used heavily by Mercedes Lackey in her Heralds of Valdemar books. Several peoples, including the Kaled'a'in (and the related Shin'a'in) have languages full of apostrophes as glottal stops.
  • In a tale truncated in The Film of the Book of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the Vl'hurg and G'gugvant races were provoked into ages of ruinous war by an off-hand remark drifting from light-years away, which ended in a peaceful joint enterprise into the tragic maw of a small dog. Because the sequence was cut down and inserted into the closing credits, the world may never know how these ancient civilizations were pronounced.
    • The names were said in the radio series though, and were pronounced "Vla-hurg" and "Ga-gug-vant".
  • Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle uses apostrophes and umlauts: Ra'zac, Gil'ead, Uru'baen, Zar'roc, Alagaësia, amongst others. Usually randomly peppered throughout names with no rhyme or reason.
    • In "Alagaësia" it could be there legitimately to show that it is "Alaga-ehsia" instead of "Alagaysia". However, the pronunciation guide lists it as "Alagaysia".
    • The pronunciation guide says that the apostrophes are added to words that would mean more or less the same thing without them; they're pronounced as an elongation of an adjacent syllable, and are added as a mark of respect or significance.
    • One elf is named Blödhgarm, the pronounciation of which ("BLAWD-garm") doesn't seem very different from if it had just been spelled Blodhgarm.
    • The "ancient language" in those books is badly mangled Old Norse, which does/did use æ, ø, œ, þ, and ð as unique letters. Paolini actually REMOVES these, usually replacing them with ae, o, oe, th, and dh respectively. It doesn't have a glottal stop, contractions, or any reason whatsoever to use an apostrophe.
  • Into the Looking Glass uses both the ! for a tongue-click, and the @ for something humans can't even pronounce. The usual problems with this trope are avoided by writing the words as each character pronounces them and having most characters mispronounce them. (For instance, the species named N!t!ch is usually mispronounced as, and consequently written as, "Nitch".)
  • Played straight with the Kzinti language in the Known Space 'verse. That their alphabet also looks like a bunch of dots and commas is actually unrelated.
  • In the Legacy of the Aldenata, the Posleen that get Character Development use apostrophes in their names. The language of the species is loaded with them, as well.
  • In the Russian novel Line of Delirium, Meklar names have some strange punctuation marks, when written out in the novel, despite the race mainly communicating in binary among themselves, such as "T/san" and "Kas/s/is". No explanation of what a slash is supposed to indicate.
  • Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen:
    • The series has names like T'lan Imass, Onos T'oolan, and so on... It's worth noting that the apostrophe in T'lan Imass does represent a glottal stop, is actually mentioned in-universe as a contraction of "Tellann" and is meant to signify that something is broken. Onos T'oolan used to go without the apostrophe before becoming The Undead.
    • The Lizard Folk K'Chain Che'Malle and their Slave Race, the K'Chain Nah'ruk, are, well, Lizard Folk. Almost all of their names seen in the series include an apostrophe: Sag'Churok, Gu'Rull, Gunth'an Acyl, Bre'nigan, etc. And since they have no spoken language, those probably don't hinder them at communicating, anyway.
    • Also of note are the related types of demons, the Kenryll'ah, and the Kenyll'rah. Apparently one of these is the nobility of their race, while the other are the peasants. Or something like that.
  • In Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, many Gardenborn (Sithi, Norns, and the various forms of Tinukeda'ya) words or names have at least one apostrophe somewhere in them. Per the appendices, this seems to represent a sort of popping or clicking sound that the Latin alphabet has no character for.
  • Mistborn: Wax and Wayne: In-Universe. The Allomancer Jak stories are penny dreadfuls written by the Gentleman Adventurer Jak, and he is a terrible writer. Jak's editor Handerwym, who adds copious footnotes, mentions that Jak apparently thinks that "Koloss" (a species of Super Soldiers who live out in the wilds) looks better with a completely unnecessary exclamation point thrown into the middle. Thankfully, Handerwym fixes them all before we have to read them.
  • In the Otherland series, one of the main characters is named !Xabbu. The ! represents a postalveolar click, which isn't uncommon in African languages.
  • Proving that the trope is Older Than Radio, Mark Twain relates in The Private History of a Campaign That Failed the instance of a Confederate militiaman who changed his name from the plebeian Dunlap to the nobler, more aristocratic-sounding d'Unlap. This proved to be inadequate, however, because people still pronounced his name with the emphasis on the first syllable. So "the ass with the French name" took things one step further.
    He then did the bravest thing that can be imagined, a thing to make one shiver when one remembers how the world is given to resenting shams and affectations, he began to write his name so; d'Un'Lap. And he waited patiently through the long storm of mud that was flung at his work of art and he had his reward at last, for he lived to see that name accepted and the emphasis put where he wanted it put by people who had known him all his life, and to whom the tribe of Dunlaps had been as familiar as the rain and the sunshine for forty years.
  • Deconstructed in REAMDE. The MMORPG T'Rain described in the book originally had apostrophes all over the place. When the dev team brings an actual linguist on board (clearly based on Tolkien), he eliminates as many as possible, in a great renaming known as the Apostropocalypse. (The apostrophe in "T'Rain" is there to distinguish the name of the world from the terrain generator used to create it in the first place.) The Rule of Cool argument used by everyone else is brushed aside by the linguist, who points out that, just like the realistic geology of the virtual world, the language also has to make sense, with a clear implication that he isn't going to help them if they don't go along with him. He pays particular attention to the name of one of the fictional races, which seems to be awfully similar to "Kshatriya", one of the varnas (castes) of Hindu society, but with extra apostrophes. The guy who originally came up with the name admits that he was simply trying to think of something that sounded exotic. Funnily enough, one of the members of the development team is Hindu and admits he should have picked up on the similarity before it was pointed out to him.
  • The Flouwen of Rocheworld communicate using a complicated form of sonar, and have names like Warm@Amber@Resonance or Sour#Sapphire#Coo. Each gets a different dingbat, not only in their names but also as quotation marks.
  • The Saga of Seven Suns by Kevin J Anderson makes use of apostrophes in the names of its principal alien race, the Ildirans. In this case, the parts of the name after the apostrophe denote the individual's rank in the species' caste system. It does make some of these names extremely difficult to pronounce, though (Zan'nh, Bron'n)...
  • Snow Crash has a character named Da5id. The name is probably pronounced the same as "David", since in Roman numerals a V is equivalent to a 5.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • R'hllor, the red god from the far east. Arya struggles to pronounce his name.
    • Jaqen H'gar.
  • Star Trek
    • In the non-canon novel series Star Trek: New Frontier, The Captain's given name was M'k'n'zy of Calhoun. He changed it to Mackenzie Calhoun because no one at Starfleet Academy could pronounce it right. His family includes a Dn'dai and a Gr'zy as well.
  • In Star Trek: Titan, we have the character of K'chak'!'op. The "!" represents a click created (in humans, anyway) by smacking the tongue against the roof of the mouth, as in several real languages. The entire name is an approximation anyway, of the clicks and pops that K'chak'!'op's people use to communicate. Her real name is basically "click/puff of air'click/tongue to roof of mouth click/pop". No wonder the human characters tend to use the nickname "Chaka".
    • Many of the Star Trek books written by Keith R. A. DeCandido feature characters from a species (as yet unnamed) who include apostrophes between every letter of their names. An example: T'r'w'o'l'h'o'r.
    • Gene Roddenberry's novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture gives us the Vulcan word T'hy'la. The first apostrophe is to indicate that the 't' and 'h' do not combine into the 'th' phoneme. The meaning of the second is debateable.
    • Lampshaded in the novel Doctor's Orders, by Diane Duane. The first Federation survey team sent to a certain planet reported that one of the three sentient species there was called the ;At, but forgot to explain how the semicolon should be pronounced. At the beginning of the book, the Enterprise crew generally pronounce it as a click; later on, Uhura says that it's probably more of a glottal stop.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: Grand Admiral Thrawn and the Chiss, just as in Legends, have punctuation-names, such as Mitth'raw'nuruodo and Ar'alani.
  • Star Wars Legends
    • Grand Admiral Thrawn has a full name of "Mitth'raw'nuruodo". Other Chiss have similarly long, punctuated names, and similarly they tend to shorten them, making it easier for humans.
      • This is expanded upon by Timothy Zahn in the now-canonic Thrawn books. Chiss names typically consist of three parts. The first part is the family name and can change if a particular individual is accepted as a merit adoptive by another family (e.g. Thrawn used to be called Kivu'raw'nuru, or Vurawn, before being adopted by the Mitth family). The middle part is personal and never changes. The purpose of the third part is unclear, but it seems that it can also change depending on one's status within their family. For example, after Kivu'raw'nuru becomes Mitth'raw'nuru, it takes him a few years to get an "odo" suffix, which only happens after the probationary period of his merit adoption is over. Some individuals end up giving up their family affiliation and, therefore, only have a two-part name, such as Ar'alani (who used to be Irizi'ar'alani, or Ziara), who gave up her family affiliation after making commodore (standard practice in Chiss military to avoid interference from family politics), and Al'iastov (who later becomes Mitth'ali'astov, or Thalias), who was taken from her family at a very young age due to her Force-sensitivity and made a navigator.
    • Timothy Zahn, Thrawn's creator, absolutely loves this, both in his Star Wars books (Jorus C'baoth, Jorj Car'das, Borsk Fey'lya, Shada D'ukal, plenty of others) and his original works.
      • The audiobooks are a little strange. Sometimes, they treat the apostrophes as stops. Other times, they don't. For example, "Car'das" is pronounced "Cardas" in the audiobook, while any Chiss name has clear stops in appropriate places. Additionally, the name "C'baoth" is pronounced as "SA-bay-oth". Word of God is that this is what Zahn has intended. According to him, if he knew how hard it would be for people to figure out, he would've changed the spelling.
    • Apostrophes are common in the names of Twi'lek characters in the expanded universe, because even slight changes in pronunciation result in very different meanings in the Rytholean language. Bib Fortuna, for instance, used to be Bibfort'una, Una being his clan name, later stripped from him because he sold members of his own clan into slavery. Splitting it in the exact manner that apparently creates the most unflattering possible meaning. In the X-Wing Series, Wedge Antilles, upon arrival on their homeworld, finds himself called Wedgean'tilles, which meant "slayer of stars", because as Wedge'antilles his name meant something like "so foul a rancor would be sick".
    • Mando'a uses it as an interlexemic glue not unlike the English hyphen:
      • dar (no longer) + jetii (Jedi) = dar'jetii (Sith, lit. ex-Jedi)
      • jetii + kad (sword) = jetii'kad (lightsaber)
      • vorer (accept) + entye (debt) = vor'e (thank you, or more accurately, I accept your debt)
      • vod (sibling) + /ika (diminutive) = vod'ika (younger sibling)
    • One of the most blatant uses of this trope comes in the form of the planet "J't'p'tan". The word has almost as many apostrophes as letters.
  • The Stormlight Archive has a character named Numuhukumakiaki'aialunamor, or Rock for short. His name seems to resemble very long Hawaiian words,note  so the apostrophe probably represents a glottal stop.
  • In Tales of the City, there is D'orothea, whose real name is just Dorothy. She changed it in order to seem more "exotic" and thus get more modeling work.
  • Joe Haldeman wrote "A !Tangled Web (1981)", a short story involving a race called the !Tang.
    • In this case, the ! is a "click" as in several African Languages. Haldeman noted in a collection that the only person to get it right unprompted was one of his "handlers" on a visit to the Soviet Union (doubly odd, because the magazine the story appeared in was banned in the USSR).
  • James Robertson hangs a lampshade on this in The Testament of Gideon Mack. One of the characters is complaining about the cod Scots dialect in an old book:
    "Look at the language he puts in Ephie's mouth. All derived from some ghastly genteel concept of what the guid Scots tongue should look like on the printed page. Those apostrophes all over the place, as if someone's slammed the book shut on a plague of corn lice."
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • In Appendix E to The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien explains that, while the acute and circumflex marks do mean something (they mark a vowel as long), which one he used depended (mostly) on how "alien" he wanted the names to look: Elvish languages get to use the acute accent (é) but everyone else has to use the circumflex accent (ê). He used the letter K to similar effect, since in most of his languages it's redundant because C is always hard.
    • Tolkien uses "k" for the languages of Dwarves, Orcs and some humans - in particular Westron and its ancestor Adûnaic. Because of the translation convention of Modern English for Westron and Old English for the language of the Rohirrim, humans get to use "c" as well, though.
    • Many Quenya words end in ë to remind readers that the e is not silent as in English. The sequence ëa (or when capitalized) occurs in a few names, like Fëanor (maker of the Silmarilli) and Eärendil (Elrond's father), to indicate that the E and A are separate vowels. (Compare archaic English spellings like coöperate; the same is seen in a few Greek names like Boötes, a constellation.) The dots were left away in the German translation, however, since in german, ä would be pronounced differently. In the Swedish translation, the dots were left in, even though they changed pronounciation and weren't necessary since a Swedish reader would read the wowels as separate in any case. It's possible that after the controversy caused by the Swedish translator of LotR (Åke Ohlmarks) changing the text far more than necessary, the publisher and the new translator wanted to avoid changing anything, including diacritics, in the text of The Silmarillion.
  • Diana Wynne Jones's The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, essentially a parodic list of fantasy clichés, explains that, since the typical Rules of Magic say you gain power over someone from knowing his or her True Name, replacing half your name with apostrophes is a wise precaution.
    • She also mocks this trope pretty comprehensively in Dark Lord of Derkholm (which itself parodies a lot of fantasy clichés).
  • David Brin's Uplift universe includes alien species with names like "J'8lek", "Mrgh'4luargi", and "Le'4-2vo". While it is probably mostly there for flavor, and actual pronunciations are not always given, there are a LOT of sounds in the various galactic languages that are hard to transliterate.
  • In the The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, every word in the Old Tongue has at least one apostrophe, which usually serves to indicate a compound word. A notable example is the Big Bad, Shai'tan — although this is justified as it's the Arabic term for Satan, and the 't stands for a pharyngealised consonant (usually represented as t with a dot below).
  • In Piers Anthony's Xanth books, any given demon's name is the name of the world/planet which is their territory, with some mathematical notation mixed in - for example, X(A/N)^TH. Precisely what notation is used appears to be some kind of indicator of status.
  • In the second Young Wizards book, Deep Wizardry, a number of the characters are whales and as such have names meant to mimic the cadences of whalesong. When Kit and Nita transform into whales, their names are given similar treatment, and are referred to as K!t and H'Neeeet.
  • The Belgariad: Justified and Lampshaded with emperor 'Zakath and his similarly punctuated predecessors. Several characters are confused by the apostrophe and gobsmacked when it's revealed to stand for "Kal", an honorific meaning "King and God". Even 'Zakath thinks it's absurd and has happily abandoned it by the end of the Malloreon.

    L'ive-Ac't'ion TV 
  • Babylon 5 is not immune to this.
    • Aside from the species named Pak'ma'ra and the Shadow home world of Z'ha'dum, especially the Narn seem to like apostrophes: G'Kar, G'Quan, Ta'Lon, Kha'Ri, et al. In the case of the Narns, the apostrophe seems to represent the joining of a compound word - for example, Na'Toth's father's name is Shak'Toth. Also, the Pak'ma'ra homeworld is called Pak'ma, which suggests a similar function.
    • Word of God states that Z'ha'dum is a Minbari compound word meaning "death of future". In a Shout-Out to Tolkien, the apostrophe "breaks" the "zha" in "Z'ha'dum" to symbolize how evil the Shadows are.
  • D'Anna Biers is the only character in Battlestar Galactica with an apostrophe name. The apostrophe indicates a glottal stop but it is somewhat subtle , causing some viewers to hear her name as Diana or Deanna.
  • A Bit of Fry and Laurie had a character named Derek Nippl-e. "Nippl-e" is pronounced as the sound of a pencil eraser being dropped onto a desktop from a height of a few inches.
  • Parodied in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Flooded" when the researching Scoobies identify the monster of the week as a M'Fashnik demon but are unsure of the correct pronunciation. It turns out to be Mmm-Fashnik ("like 'mmm, cookies!'").
  • While interviewing J. J. Abrams about Star Trek (2009), Stephen Colbert is visited by his Romulan counterpart, S't'e'fan Kh'lber't, who takes the time to clarify that he spells his name with a "kh" and five apostrophes.
  • The Taelons from Earth: Final Conflict used apostrophes in every name for everything (Da'an, Ma'el, Zo'or, the Ma'hu'ra'va Galaxy). The show did some real-world Lampshade Hanging, by naming their official website's online shop "The Sto'or".
  • In Farscape, Crichton writes up the name T'raltixx for the benefit of his shipmates, despite the fact that (a) no one else on the ship reads English, and (b) no one this side of the Galactic Core would write it like that. Of course, his mind was being affected at the time.
    Crichton: A brand new car! No! It's T'raltixx. Tee apostrophe arr aye ell, tee eye, double-x! T'raltixx.
    • A Season 1 episode features guest aliens named M'Lee (pronounced "Em'ly", like a slurred "Emily"), and Br'Nee (pronounced "Bernie").
  • Game of Thrones: Jaqen H'ghar.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Why so many Jaffa have apostrophized names is a bit of a mystery: Would it really affect the pronunciation to transliterate their names as "Tealk" and "Braytak"? This is invoked by O'Neill in "The Enemy Within".
      O'Neill: That's "Teal'c" with an apostrophe. T-E-A-L-apostrophe...C.
    • Doctor Who writer Russell T. Davies is alleged to have used SG-1's "monopoly" on apostrophe names as a reason for vetoing one on his own show.
    • The main antagonist race (for the first six or seven seasons) were called Goa'uld. How this was pronounced varied, usually depending on who was talking. A few common versions were [ˈgoʊ̭.uːld], [ˈguːə.uːld] and for a few human characters: [guːld]. The former were usually used by either technically-minded people (Dr. Jackson, Carter) or people who spoke the Goa'uld language (Teal'c), while the latter was used by characters who just don't care enough to get it right (O'Neill).
    • Plain old regular humans from Earth get this treatment too — aliens call us the Tau'ri.
    • There's also the zat'nik'tel stun guns, pronounced "zat-nick-a-tell" with the second apostrophe representing an entire syllable. Fortunately, they're usually just abbreviated to "zat-guns" or "zats".
    • There is also the Tok'ra, but in their case, the apostrophe actually denotes the point at which two words have been joined together to form one: "tok," meaning "against," and "Ra," the name of the Supreme System Lord.
  • Several names in both Klingon and Vulcan in Star Trek: T'Pol, K'Ehleyr, etc. In Klingon the apostrophe actually represents a letter of their alphabet and is pronounced as a glottal stop.
    • Explained (although not quite justified) for Vulcans in non-canon books: the "T'" prefix is used for "bonded" (marriage bond) females. However, that doesn't excuse the completely unnecessary apostrophes in "Ba'ku" and "Son'a" in Star Trek 9.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine introduced apostrophized names for male Vulcans as well, including V'Las and Chu'lak.
    • B'Elanna from Voyager isn't pronounced with the stop, unless everyone's just saying it wrong. Possibly Justified since she's a Half-Human Hybrid raised at least partly on Earth; maybe she or her parents simplified the pronunciation?
    • The Vulcan Language appears to use apostrophes and hyphens to attach prefixes and suffixes to root words, and to make compound words. The "T'" prefix to mean "bonded" would be consistent with the word T'hy'la, but that would expand the definition outside of marriage bonds. The discrepancy can possibly be explained by T'hy'la being an archaic word.
  • Supergirl: In a minor Adaptation Name Change, the Khund species is changed to K'hund. For once, this is a correct usage of an apostrophe, as it acts as a glottal stop and makes it clear the word is two syllables instead of one.

  • The first God Damn Whores album is stylised as "wē äre the̲ luck•y thir•teen", most likely appealing to this trope to make the 'luck•y thir•teen' seem otherworldly. Or it could just be an egregious case of the rock dots got out of hand.

    M'yth's & R'elig'ion 
  • The science museum COSI in Columbus, Ohio used to have an exhibit set on a fictitious Micronesian island ruled by the four "Spirits of Knowledge," named P'lunk, B'ra-Zoa, L'lala, and T'em-Poa. L'lala was the only one of the four whose apostrophe seemed to affect the pronunciation in any way.


    Pro W'rest'ling 

    Tab'letop G'ames 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Literary/roleplaying example: Drizzt Do'Urden (full name Drizzt Daermon N'a'shezbaernon) from the Forgotten Realms setting. R.A. Salvatore, his creator, apparently pronounces it "Drits" (yes, with the "t" sound before the "s" sound)
    • From the Dungeons & Dragons core setting, we have the Demon Prince Graz'zt.
    • And in the Dark Sun setting, thri'kreen, an insectoid race, tend to have names like Myk'tyl'klk and the like. Bugs have no need for puny vowels.
    • It's suggested that the apostrophes are often clicks and other insectoid sounds that would be absurd to write in. Nezumi in Oriental Adventures also have apostrophed names, and the apostrophes mark chitters, chirps, and clicks.
    • The 1st edition Oriental Adventures uses Wade-Giles romanization for faux Chinese (Shou Lung and T'u Lung) countries.
    • In the 5th edition book Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes we get a good look at some Githyanki names and look at all them apostrophes! Ris'a'an, Kar'i'nas, and Zetch'r'r all appear in either the lore or the name tables.
  • The Tau in Warhammer 40,000 use apostrophe-compounds.
    • The first word in every Tau name consists of their caste and their rank, separated by an apostrophe; for example, a Tau whose name begins with Shas'la is a low-ranking member of the Fire (warrior) caste, while a Tau whose name begins with Aun'vre is a mid-ranking member of the Ethereal (ruling) caste.
    • Other Tau words containing apostrophes also seem to be compound words (e.g. mont'yr and mont'ka, both of which relate to the battlefield). Also, the Tau come from the planet T'au. Almost all their planets have an apostrophe in there somewhere. Unless it's a Kroot world, since Kroot famously don't care for a lot of the Tau empire's eccentricities and formalities.
    • In later editions, the Tau Empire became the T'au Empire. No difference in pronunciation, easier to copyright.
  • The Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay sourcebook Tome of Corruption goes into detail about Daemonic Names. Essentially they are a string of randomly generated letter groups, which the DM is then encouraged to split up with apostrophes to make it look more daemonic and/or in a desperate attempt to indicate how it is pronounced.
  • In a truly bizarre example: Rifts has a race of aliens in its Three Galaxies setting called the K!ozn. The book explains that it's pronounced kot-zin. This may or may not have been meant as a parody.
  • In Tribe 8, you're not going to find many Z'bri names without apostrophes.

    V'id'eo G'ames 
  • An unusual case in that this applied to the name of a video game console. During the run of the Sega Genesis, they licensed out the platform to JVC, which released a Genesis/Sega CD combo unit. In Japan, this unit was known as the "Wondermega" (as in Japan the Genesis was known as the Mega Drive). When it came to America, they renamed it to the rather nonsensical X'Eye.
  • In Final Fantasy XI, everything related to the Zilart race has an apostrophe somewhere in there: Tu'Lia, The Sanctuary of Zi'Tah, Al'Taieu, etc. And let's not get started on places like Pso'Xja. Moreover, the world itself is "Vana'diel", pronounced with a noticable break.
    • The Miqo'te race of its successor Final Fantasy XIV make extensive use of apostrophes in their names; somewhat unusually, they actually follow a well-established set of rules concerning tribal and parental relation.
  • Blizzard Entertainment makes use of this a lot, something commented on by lead story dev, Chris Metzen. The Warcraft series tends to give them to evil characters such as Gul'dan, Ner'zhul, and Kel'thuzad. Kel'thuzad is particularly jarring, considering that was his name when he was still a regular human wizard with no explanation. In World of Warcraft, the voice acting forcves them to pronounce The Unpronounceable, raising the question why the Old God Y'Shaarj wasn't just spelled something like Yasharaj, since that's what they say anyway, even when it's an insectoid who should be able to get it right pronouncing it. And StarCraft has the Xel'Naga.
  • Battle for Wesnoth has quite a few, such as Li'Sar and Kapou'e.
  • Bungie Software has several cases of this, with examples including the W'rkncacnter in Pathways into Darkness and S'pht'kr (from Lh'owon) in Marathon. They also did this with Elite names (Rtas 'Vadum, Usze 'Taham) in Halo, though said names never appeared in the actual games until 343 Industries took over the franchise.
  • Halo does this with Sangheili/Elite names like Thel 'Vadam and Ripa 'Moramee; the apostrophe signifies a glottal stop for the Sangheili, whose mouths are very different than humans. Also, San'Shyuum/Prophets often have names like Tem'Bhetek and Mken 'Sce'ah'ben.
  • City of Heroes:
    • The Mu descendant NPCs that work for Arachnos that have names all have "Mu'-" as the prefix. Also done with the Rikti, a lot of whom have apostrophes in their names.
    • Parodied at one point. The Positron Task Force includes a quest for "The Book of T'Jer'imikanu". Positron refers to it as "the Book of T'Gerima... T'Geruni... the magic book".
  • Dragon names in Bioware games (Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights) often have these, and/or ones that are just really hard to say. Ohhhh yes. N'am'es w'ith apo'st'ro'p'hes ev'er'y sec'on'd le'tt'er. For example, there are Ma'fel'no'sei'kedeh'naar aka "Guardian White Dragon" in Chapter 3 and Vix'thra in Hordes of the Underdark.
  • Mass Effect
    • The asari occasionally have a shaker, such as Liara T'Soni, Sha'ira and Aria T'Loak. The batarians present this more prominently, and at least one turian, Lorik Qui'in, has it too.
    • The quarians use apostrophes to run their given and clan names together: Tali'Zorah nar Rayya is explained to be Tali of Clan Zorah, born of the Starship Rayya. 'vas' is also used in their naming system to indicate the ship which they are the crew of, as such, at the beginning of ME2, Tali's full name is Tali'Zorah vas Neema nar Rayya.
  • Assassin's Creed III has a case that's grounded in reality. The protagonist, a Native American, is named Ratonhnhaké:ton—it's pronounced along the lines of RA-doon-ha-GAY-doon, not ra-TONE-ha-KAY-ton, which is acknowledged by the character and his people obvioulsy pronouncing it correctly while a contempoary-period chaacter in the immediate sequel completely butchers it. This is a name based on the Kanien'kéha aka Mohawk language, and the punctuation shaker comes as a result of transcription methods doing this to a lot of First Nation languages. In the story, he's given the name Connor by his mentor Achilles both because of the issues between colonials and natives, and so others can refer to him easily without needing to figure out another language.
  • Two of the four ancients in Eternal Darkness have 'em: Xel'lotath and Chattur'gha. Also, the city of Ehn'gha.
  • In Escape Velocity Nova, the Polaris have an apostrophe laden name scheme, which transfers to a whole set of worlds. This can be a problem for players when it comes to locating specific worlds. This also applies to the Wraith systems, which all have names looking like Teev'E'Tropus.
  • Longnames on the MMORPG Furcadia use these as title conventions. For one example explained K’ means lord/lady, so putting those characters in front of a name would make K'Arruna, or Lady Arruna.”
  • Incubation's enemy monsters are the mutated Scay'Ger, with names like Ray'Ther, Ee'Ther, Dec'Ther, Squee'Coo, Tr'Yn, and Al'Coo.
  • In the English version of Dragon Quest IX, one of the bosses is called "Master of Nu'un". There is no such thing as "Nu'un" in the game's plot, but the name makes a nice and punny contrast with the one of their counterpart Jack of Alltrades. Jack of All Trades, but Master of None.
  • Many names of Kilrathi characters in the Wing Commander universe will make use of apostrophes, although just as many names won't use them at all.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, the Fantastic Naming Convention of the Khajiit includes apostrophes and hyphens. Apostrophes are used primarily by male Khajiit to indicate their status or profession, such as Ra'Virr and Dro'Zel. ("Ra" means "esteemed/respected leader". "Dro" means "grandfather".) Apostrophes are much more rarely used by female Khajiit. Hyphens are used by Khajiit of both sexes to separate a suffix. Some names use both, indicating two titles which is considered to be arrogant.
  • Most of the demons in Runescape have an apostrophe in their names.
  • League of Legends
  • In Fire Emblem: Awakening, this seems to be the naming rule for characters from Chon'sin. Apart from the country itself, some of the characters' names include Lon'qu, Say'ri, and Yen'fay.
  • Hidden Duality gives us M'kavlar's Fort. It was one of the few made-up names amongst names like Historia Temple, Tungsten Excavation Site and Sleet Stone Cavern.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 1, a few members of the High Entia race use apostrophes in their names, such as the NPCs Ma'crish and Vol'aren, but most of them don't. Crossing this with Name From Another Species, Ma'crish has a reluctant Nopon companion that she named Nopo'rikh.
  • In Destiny, the Cabal name their non-Psion characters this way, with names like Valus Ta'aurc, Bracus Tho'ourg, and even Primus Ta'aun.
  • The Lightness cult in Broken Age change their names to something "lighter" by taking out vowels, which causes a lot of apostrophes. To be fair, those apostrophes would use less ink if this was a brushed storybook and not a video game.
  • Kingdom of Loathing allows you to summon various demons to grant you favors, if you know their True Name. These names are usually randomly generated, using some set patterns, a few of which fall squarely into this trope. Of the demons whose names aren't random, Ak'gyxoth, god of fruity tropical drinks, had to have his name figured out through a convoluted puzzle involving the entire playerbase digging up 43 mystic idols and plotting their locations of discovery on a map to connect the dots; the presence of an apostrophe made the puzzle that much harder.
  • Planescape: Torment: Githzerai and Githyanki names tend to be like this, including not only your party member Dak'kon but also several that you meet in the Lower Ward such as An'azi, Yi'minn, and Kii'na, and city names like Shrak'kt'lor.
  • The King of Fighters: The prototype clone of Kyo Kusanagi produced by NESTS is known as K' (pronounced "Kay-Dash").
  • Them's Fightin' Herds, for non-apostrophe examples, has the world Fœnum, though it’s pronounced like the "oe" in "foe", and not like the usual pronunciation of the character such as Phoenix. Then there’s the demon FHTNG TH§ ¿NSP§KBL?, which honestly isn’t meant to be pronounced at all.
  • Disco Elysium: There are a few In-Universe examples. You can buy a fantasy novel which contains a character "the noble lord Wrôthgär," and there is a role-playing game set in the world of Wirrâl.
  • Dwarf Fortress eschews apostrophes, but instead makes heavy use of various diacritics; mostly accent marks, with the occasional umlaut and tilde.

    Vi's'ual N'ovels 

    W'eb An'imat'ion 
  • Homestar Runner: In the Strong Bad Email "what i want", the email is signed from "Talon Jendro, Des Moines IA". Strong Bad speculates that it's a made-up name concocted by George Lucas and rewrites it with a bunch of superfluous apostrophes: "Ta'lon J'en-dr'o, from the computery generated planet of Des' Moi-nes'ia."

  • Played with in Supernormal Step when a character named Akela T'nadne claims her last name is a contraction.
  • 8-Bit Theater parodies Dungeons & Dragons' love of apostrophes with its character Dark Elf Prince Drizz'l (a sendup of Drizzt Do'Urden) and the evil Doom Cultists, who have feminine names generously sprinkled with odd punctuation: Mrr'grt (Margret), L'zlhe (Leslie), Lv'rn (Laverne), etc. The Cthulu-esque god they worship is not immune either - her name is Jnf'ur (Jennifer).
    • Don't forget the elven clans Khee'bler and Sahn'ta.
    • Fo' Drizzle!
  • From Chainmail Bikini:
    Josh(Re: Kr'thyndt): You need to get in touch with Pat Sajak. Get the man to hook you up with some vowels.
  • Parodied in Sluggy Freelance, where the demon K'Z'K The Vowelless is constantly annoyed when human characters pronounce its name "Kizke". The removal of vowels was a deliberate plot to limit the demon's power, and its name was previously pronounced as "Kozoaku".
  • Parodied in Schlock Mercenary, when the footnotes explain the random apostrophes. This is a running gag with the Gatekeepers, whose phrases are always considered to be contractions of something decidedly longer and less cool-sounding. For instance, the name of their superweapon, the T'okjith, is a contraction of an 18-word phrase which translates to "The design is clever, but this <expletive> thing could sterilize a sizeable <expletive> chunk of the <expletive> galaxy if you're not <expletive> careful with it."
    • Bu'uthandi, their word for a contiguous Dyson sphere, is a contraction of "this was <expletive> expensive to build."
    • Also, Ambassador Ch'vorthq is pronounced like the Ch in China, not in Chevrolet, followed by the noise an expensive piece of china makes when struck by a chevrolet, a plain "vor", soft Th and the Q in Quetzalcoatl.note 
      • It's probably an homage to the way Larry Niven describes alien languages, e.g. Kzin arguments sound like a major feline war and Puppeteer names sound like a car crashing into an orchestra. Tayler is an avowed Niven fan.
  • Almost everyone's name's in Drowtales has at least two apostrophes, being inspired by the Dungeons & Dragons Drow. Just ask Mel'anarch Val'sarghress. There are exceptions, such as Ariel, Syphile, Liriel and some others. The apostrophe after "Val" does serve a legitimate purpose: the actual house name is merely Sarghress, and Val is an honorific attached to indicate noble standing. But aside from that, though, it really does fit this trope to a T.
  • The Noob: Ah'Arl'Bah'l, the god of Apostrophes.
  • Inverloch has Da'kor. Elven names often follow this trope, as well, such as Kayn'dar.
  • The author's other webcomic, The Phoenix Requiem has Dakor (without the apostrophe), which looks similar, but is completely different.
  • Every single tekk name from Prophecy of the Circle has an apostrophe separating given name from caste name (ex. Shan'rekk), though the second part is dropped in casual conversations.
  • The Order of the Stick has a dark elf character named Zz'dtri. Naturally, as he's a parody of Drizzt Do'Urden.
  • Lampshaded in Planescape Survival Guide with "Fred" the dragon, his full name is Frd'gl'fn'd'pq'zter, his mother named him after her great-grand-uncle. His father thought her great-great-grandparents forgot that apostrophes aren't vowels.
  • In Rusty and Co., the illithid mobsters: T'oni, R'occo, D'an, S'al, S'ammy, V'innie, B'enny, J'immy...
  • According to xkcd #1638, "the true name of Ba'al, the soul-eater" is spelled with at least 11 backslashes in a row, possibly followed by an ellipsis.
  • Parodied in The Bird Feeder #10, "Sund'y Comic." Lewis recites a poem with a large number of apostrophes, and Josh asks him if he can trade some of them for letters. Fridge Logic kicks in when you realize there's no way Josh could have noticed the apostrophes.
  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures has several characters with an apostrophe in their names, starting with Daniel Ti'Fiona. Many of these names came from player characters in the MMO Furcadia, or were suggested by readers.
  • Girl Genius: A friend of Taverk and Gil's from Paris who became the champion of Bishara and married Ludmilla, Keeper of the Lost Key of the Red Pyramid of Bishara, is named Thegon Ba'kont.
  • Guilded Age: Wood Elves like Syr'Nj fall under the "apostrophe as a universal stand-in for vowels" version.
  • Daughter of the Lilies: Parodied with T'Fa'Nii The Clanless (pronounced Tiffany), the Barbarian Heroine of an in-universe Cliché Storm pulp fiction series that Thistle reads.

    Web Or'iginal 
  • One particularly egregious example comes from the web-original sci-fi setting Orion's Arm. OA has the To'ul'h, which speak the To'ul'ho'lo'ss language and follow the calendar known as `Ha'ts'ul. Their primary beast of burden is called the Shur'rooss'hur, and several famous politicians are To'ul'h, such as Ho'th'hss'lho, To'h'hshls'ho, Ho'h'h'l'l'h, H'to'hs'hssl'o, and H't'lo'h'ss'so'h. This is implied as being due to their alien language, which is unpronounceable to humans; likewise, To'ul'h can't pronounce English. It is not explained what, exactly, the apostrophes are for.
  • In the Peacock King Trilogy, apostrophes etc. are used to incorporate information about family, status and citizenship into the names. For example, Ebrelle becomes Ebrellin-i upon coronation, h'Akribastes marks the head of the Akribastes family, o'Radia is the king of Radia. Pronounciation is still a nightmare, for a lot of reasons.
  • The Centaurian language in The Pentagon War, when transcribed by us humans, uses apostrophes to indicate that the speaker is switching from one of its 4 mouths to another in mid-vowel (e.g. Go'orla is the name of their home planet). More common than apostrophes, though, are parentheses, which indicate that another mouth is making a different sound at the same time (e.g. Goor(l)a, the word for a clan's bookkeeping expert — the double o means two mouths are saying "o" simultaneously, and the r(l) means that one mouth is saying "r" while another is saying "l").
  • The titular Bugs from Pay Me, Bug! don't have any type of vocal organ. They "speak" by making various clicking sounds with their mandibles, so written bugtalk consists entirely of long, unbroken strings of K's, T's, and apostrophes. One of the protagonists is named Ktkt'tkkt'kktt'tkkk'tktk'ttkt'tkkk'kktt'kktk'tk (but you can just call it "Ktk" for short).
  • Syera of Springhole advises not to use apostrophes in fantasy names unless it is to denote a glottal stop, and even then it should not be abused.

    Web Vid'eos 
  • Played very straight in Critical Role with Vax'ildan, Vex'ahlia and K'varn. The first two are half-elf twins that usually go by Vax and Vex, and the latter is a beholder.
  • In Monster Factory, Griffin and Justin decide to make a creature to replace dogs in Spore. They initially call it "Jaam", but decide that's too boring and redub it "Jaa'm" (pronounced Jah-ahm).

    West'ern Anim'ation 
  • One of the main people working on Ben 10: Alien Force once spoofed this in his ask the creator thread by jokingly saying they would introduce an alien named 'p'str'ph'. For those of you playing at home, that's "apostrophe" with all the vowels replaced with apostrophes.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks:
    • Tendi (an Orion) has the first name D'Vana, and she works with Dr. T'Ana, a Caitan. Another episode reveals that Tendi has a cousin named D'onni.
    • Discussed in "Envoys:"
      Tendi: K'orin, how do I know that name?
      Mariner: Maybe it's just 'cause Klingon names sound the same? Like, they all have an apostrophe for some reason.
      Tendi: Yes, that's it!
  • An expy of Shaggy Rogers in Star Wars: Clone Wars is named Sha'a Gi, a Star Wars spin on the original character's name.

    R'eal L'ife 
  • The Wade-Giles romanization system of Mandarin Chinese. Firstly, a bit of background: Mandarin does not use voicing but rather aspiration to distinguish consonants, which is a fancy way of saying instead of having words such as "bin" and "pin", it has "spin" (without the s) and "pin". (Technically, English has both voicing and aspiration for some pairs of consonants, but only the aspiration is relevant here.) For example, a certain Chinese city would be Ch'ing-tao with that system, and the capital of Taiwan would be T'aipei, T'aiwan. Naturally, English speakers ignore those rules and pronounce everything alike unless they have been taught what these symbols are meant to do.
    • In Hanyu Pinyin, now the most widely used Chinese romanization scheme, instead of having p p’ t t’ k and k’ it instead goes for b p d t g and k, which sacrifices accuracy in favour of not having apostrophes everywhere. Wade-Giles ch’ (aspirated ch) becomes q in Pinyin, ts’ (aspirated ts) becomes c, and unaspirated ts becomes z. (Which might seem a bit odd, but it's similar to many Eastern European languages like Polish or Albanian. Mostly though it's because they wanted one letter for one sound.) Hence Qingdao for Ch’ing-tao and Mao Zedong for Mao Tse-tung. Pinyin does sometimes still make use of the apostrophe but only to show where a syllable ends if there is ambiguity (e.g. Tian’anmen).
    • Many other romanization schemes for other Chinese languages like Cantonese, and also for other East Asian languages that are not related to Chinese like Korean, use apostrophes heavily in the same way as the Wade-Giles system. These days this practice has tended to become old-fashioned or obsolete in them as well, like with the Revised Romanization for Korean that was adopted in the 2000s and also has the trait of Hanyu Pinyin of simply using pairings like b and p instead of p and p’ and so on. This is roughly how English speakers hear these sounds anyway, which is handy for many foreigners.
  • American businessman Timothy Dexter reputedly viewed the English language as a punctuation shaker. To this end, he wrote his autobiography, A Pickle for the Knowing Ones, with no punctuation whatsoever. When people complained, he wrote a second edition with an entire page of punctuation marks, asking the readers to "peper and solt it as they plese".
  • When asked about the meaning and pronunciation of the dot (bullet) in his last name, Mark Rein·Hagen once reportedly replied, "It's unpronounceable, and symbolizes how meaningless are the labels that we attach to ourselves." This has led to discussions about the right place to put the bullet in Mark Rein·Hagen.
  • The Catalan language uses the bullet to distinguish between the long 'l' phoneme (l·l) and palatalized 'l' (ll). Hence the street Paral·lel in Barcelona, which is pronounced as "paral-lel" instead of something more like "paralyel" which it would be without the bullet. The l·l is called ela geminada.
  • Many Breton surnames start with Ker- (Kerouac, Kermarrec), which was often replaced with a struck K (Ꝃ: the lower arm is crossed; compare the more familiar ℞). With typography came the inability to reproduce the struck K, which led to it being written K/ or K’ (turning Kerouac into K’ouac or K/ouac). Still today, mainly in oversea territories, some French people have names such as K/Jean, K’madec, K/ily (and frequently run into trouble with bureaucracy).
    • In older works, you'll occasionally see the Mc or Mac in Scottish/Irish names replaced with M’ — one prominent example being M’Turk from Kipling's Stalky & Co.
  • Badly configurated computer systems can result in this, with more or less horrid results depending in the target language. For example, in Spain cash-machines and computerized punchclocks, it is far too common for a name like "Begoña" (tilde n) to crop up like "BEGO A", "Begoña" or "BEGO./ A". English is just fine, and Spanish at least intelligible, but any language which uses other letters than Basic Latin Alphabet (like some of the above examples) is a complete Wall of... ''Something-that-is-not-text'
    • "Smart" quotes, apostrophes, tilde letters, and such tend to be rendered as impossible-to-read strings of random symbols when viewed in a non-smart code set. Unicode was intended to relieve some of this confusion, but not everybody sets their browsers and email clients to Unicode, and automatic code set detection is unreliable.
  • Some German translations of works with dialects or colloquial speech (Huckleberry Finn comes to mind) try to imitate those by using egregious amounts of apostrophes.
  • The !Kung people of Africa. Their language uses the tongue-clicks mentioned earlier. It's pronounced (tongue-click) Kung.
    • Most languages with distinct click consonants go into extremes with this. (Largely because languages with click consonants are possibly even less suited for transcription in Roman alphabets than some First Nations and Caucasian languages that have consonants and vowels never dreamt of in Europe.) And there are many types of click consonants; !Kung actually has one of the larger inventories of distinct click consonants in a language.
  • Romanized transliterations of Semitic words and names will usually put in an apostrophe for one of a glottal stop, a pharyngeal sound (sometimes the symbol for this is a reversed apostrophe, ‘ instead of ’), or a schwa sound that doesn't merit a full vowel. E.g. The Hebrew newspaper Ha'aretz (glottal stop), the letter ‘ayin (pharyngeal), or the word b'nai (meaning "children of", featuring a schwa). The Islamic holy book is normally spelled as the Quran or Koran in English (without an apostrophe), but a better transliteration is Qur'an, with a glottal stop. Other Arabic words have a letter 'ayn, like ‘Iraq or Sa‘udi. This sound is not a glottal stop (although the equivalent letter now mostly is in Modern Hebrew) but a pharyngeal sound that is also made in the throat but in a different way. The difference is hard to hear for the unfamilar but is quite distinct to a trained ear.
    • It's fairly common to see apostrophes proper used as a sign for a glottal stop in First Nations/indigenous North American languages as well, as well as Caucasian languages.
  • Another use of apostrophes in the writing systems of indigenous American languages and latinizations of Caucasian languages is to write ejectives. The trigraph ch' is used for the palatal-alveolar ejective affricate in the Latin-based scripts for Quechua and several Mayan languages, as well as romanization of Georgian and Armenian.
  • In Turkish, an apostrophe will often be used to separate proper nouns from affixed morphemes, e.g. "William'la" ("with William") or "İstanbul'da" ("in Istanbul"; cf. a common noun like "depoda" — "in the storage")
  • Romanizations of Russian usually substitute the punctuation shaker for the letters Ъ (hard sign) and Ь (soft sign). These letters are silent, and basically are there to tell you that the part of the word after them is supposed to be pronounced like a separate word, with a short pause and full yot (meaning an English "[consonantal] Y sound") before the following vowels. The soft sign is different from the hard sign in that it also denotes palatalization of the preceding consonant.
    • This is done by default in Ukrainian. The soft sign is still there and used for the same purpose. However, the hard sign has been replaced by an apostrophe.
    • The hard sign was originally used at the end of any word that ended on a hard consonant. This was eventually dropped, and it's now understood that any word that ends on a consonant without a soft sign is hard.
    • An example is the convention formed naturally on this site (there are no official translations) for Romanizing names from Nick Perumov's works like Diamond Sword, Wooden Sword. The name of the empire and world Mel'in is read as "Mel Yin", with "Mel"'s ending "l" pronounced à la French.
  • In English accent marks are frequently dropped, except in a handful of loanwords and even then only occasionally (résumé, fiancé/fiancée; the former sometime even ends up losing the first acute but keeping the second, resulting in "resumé". The latter is doubly bad as some people do not distinguish between the two gendered forms), even when they actually matter. It also used to be standard to use a grave accent to distinguish when a vowel was voiced or swallowed, hence "learned," the past tense of the verb learn, versus "learnèd" which is an adjective meaning "knowledgeable". Other examples include dogged/doggèd and beloved/belovèd. These days the correct pronunciation must be inferred from context, and the only place grave accents are seen is certain forms of poetry and song, where the exact pronunciation affects the meter.
  • As noted above (in the VGM example for Assassin's Creed III) a lot of Roman transcription systems for First Nations languages tend to fall into this (largely because a lot of First Nations languages plain don't have sounds or distinctions in sounds that lend well to Roman letters). Mohawk is among the less problematic languages (with JUST having diacritics for nasal vowels, retroflex consonants, glottal stops and vowel length and tone); Nuxalk and other Salishan languages can take this pretty far because these languages have some of the highest ratios of consonants to vowels ever documented in a language.
  • Sometimes used in transliteration of Ancient Egyptian (most likely for readability instead of more accurate but obscure symbols), like in "Ma'at" (which is also commonly just spelled "maat"). Ancient Egyptian had a typical Afro-Asiatic sound palette with several sounds that are difficult for Westerners (and, indeed, many other Middle Easterners like most Jews and Persians, whose languages have shifted toward more typical Eurasian sounds) to pronounce. The reconstructed pronunciation of "ma'at", for example, is something like "maʔʕat"—the first funny letter being the glottal stop, the second being the voiced pharyngeal approximant, a sound that is cross-linguistically rare but is still quite common in Arabic (which is a distant cousin of Ancient Egyptian).
  • A common form of hypercorrection regarding foreign words leads to this effect in the Polish language - in Polish apostrophes are used for the inflection of foreign words that cannot be inflected in a standard Polish way (e.g. English or French words with silent e's at the end), which leads to some unnecessarily using apostrophes with all foreign words.
  • In Romance languages, the apostrophe might be used for letter suppression - such as the Portuguese for "water glass": copo de água becomes "copo d'água" - which even allows for composite words to become a single one - Saint Anna = Sant'Anna; Di Angelo = D'Angelo. Borrowing this in English leads to amusing cases such as the basketball player Amar'e Stoudemire.
  • The cedilha (ç) in Romance languages. It generally is pronounced as [s]. It denotes either a voiceless (s) sibilant between two vowels whereas an ordinary 's' would be pronounced as voiced [z] (casa -> [käza] (house) vs caça -> [kasa] (hunt)) or a situation where the letter 'c' would be pronounced as 's' where it ordinarily would be 'k' (such as "façade" or "garçon") Thus the name of island Curação is "koor-a-sow", not "kure-a-koa".
  • In 1993, shortly after the fall of Soviet Union, Uzbekistan decided to switch from the Cyrillic script to Latin. The proposed new alphabet was to contain the letters Ç, Ş, Ğ, and Ö as the related Turkish language did. Uzbekistan-Turkey relations worsening and a desire to make the alphabet ASCII-compliant resulted in those letters being removed in a following revision in 1995, with Ç and Ş being replaced with the digraphs Ch and Sh as in English, and Ö and Ğ being replaced by the letter-apostrophe combinations Oʻ and Gʻ. With a lone apostrophe also being used for the glottal stop, they make Uzbek one of the most apostrophe-heavy languages today - as can be seen in the country's native name: Oʻzbekiston.
  • In 2017 Kazakhstan also began a switch from a Cyrillic-based alphabet to a Latin-based one. The president has explicitly aimed to avoid "hooks or superfluous dots" (in other words, á é í ó ú and whatnot) when devising the alphabet, instead preferring to use apostrophes like aforementioned Uzbek did. This decision has been roundly criticized, and a second revision saw the president give up and just use said hooks and superfluous dots.
  • The punctuation shaker is popular with first-time Conlang creators, probably also thanks to Tolkien, who as noted above did 'not' tend to use the apostrophe in his own languages much at all but did use many other accent marks for things such as vowel length. A sign of a newbie conlanger is using a lot of accents and/or punctuation marks in arbitary and bizarre ways that no real language does, to the point it looks like it's mostly for the aesthetic not unlike the Xtreme Kool Letterz trope.
  • Famously among copy editors, The New Yorker's official style guide is to use a diaeresis to punctuate repeated vowels, as in "coöperate" and "reëlect", to indicate the second vowel is pronounced separately. Pretty much no other publisher follows the idiosyncratic punctuation, although some have been known to use a hyphen as in "co-operate." (Mocked in a ClickHole article which satirically suggests the New Yorker is going to double down and use a Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut over every vowel.)
  • Written Scots, especially in older works, or by writers who don't speak Scots as a first language, is frequently littered with apostrophes, which represent letters that would be there in English. This often annoys fluent Scots speakers, because it encourages the idea that Scots is just English with an accent. Yes, many Scottish accents drop "T"s, but the word "no" as in "He'd no agree tae that" is a Scots word that's meant to be pronounced like that.

Alternative Title(s): Decorative Apostrophe