John Gordon Ross

A Man for All Reasons

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Street Sign Silliness

February 2nd, 2009 · No Comments

Punctuation purists led by John Richards, founder of the Apostrophe Protection Society, are up in arms over Birmingham City Council’s decision to omit apostrophes from street signs. Reactions have run from the usual indignation to outright horror. Apostrophe Abuse ironizes about it cleverly, calling Birmingham “the city where apostrophes arent welcome,” while Apostrophe Catastrophes goes so far as to call it a “travesty” (actually, I think they mean “outrage”).

Personally, I think it matters not a jot whether Birmingham City Council uses apostrophes or not, in the same way as it is unimportant whether ‘St’ needs a stop after it or not. I can see the pro-apostrophe campaigners enjoying themselves hugely, though, and am all in favour of a bit of fun, even at the expense of a few otherwise innocent councillors whose only crime is to have regional accents.

But where were the punctuation purists when banks and high-street shops and other businesses decided to drop apostrophes? Barclays (and all the other banks), Selfridges (and all the other chains), and so on. Who gave them permission? And who then decided that just because ‘they’ wanted to stop using their apostrophes, we had to respect their decision?

Tags: Language · Life

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