Thursday, August 7, 2008

Some Unexpected Validation

A few months ago, I posted about phrases like way back when. I wondered if the word way should have an apostrophe at its beginning, since it acts as an abbreviation of the word away or the phrase far and away.

The answer that I arrived at was that there is no answer. I could find no indication that the apostrophized version had ever been standard or, indeed, that it had been considered by more than one other person.

Imagine my delight when, in my rereading of Joseph Heller’s delightful Catch 22, I came across the following:

“…if the chaplain’s reticent, unimpressive manner were really just a sinister disguise masking a fiery ambition that, 'way down deep, was crafty and unscrupulous.”
This provides no further information on the etymology of that use of way or away, but I’m relieved to know that I’m not alone in my belief that such phrases warrant an apostrophe. I’d welcome any other examples or opinions, though.