Lauren Krueger & Matthew David Brozik

Rock + roll = ?

In Definally on June 6, 2011 at 10:00 am

The sum of rock plus roll is which of the following?

a. Rock ’n roll

b. Rock ’n’ roll

c. Rolling Rock®

d. There is no d. The answer is b.

And the difference between a and b is, of course, one apostrophe. It’s small, but it’s important. Unfortunately, it is more often omitted than employed. Maybe that’s because true rockers don’t have time for proper punctuation, man. The music calls. Or the road. Or the drugs. Whatever calls, it’s not a second apostrophe. Yet, without that second apostrophe to indicate that there’s a letter missing from both sides of the n (betwixt the rock and the roll), it is not obvious that that n used to be an and.

With just one apostrophe present, to the left of the n, one might be forgiven for thinking that rock ’n roll means rock in roll or rock on roll (either of which could describe a sandwich). On the other hand, rock n’ roll might suggest rock no roll (which is a sandwich that Jack Nicholson might order in a diner).

The best way to avoid these pitfalls, while still being cool and not spelling out three actual words in a row, might be to write rock & roll. (Notwithstanding the title of this post, rock + roll is totally for squares.)

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