Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Apostrophe Crisis Averted in Mid-Devon

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Link to article:
Not Without Our Apostrophes!

In a sign that our written language is being taken over and irreversibly damaged by the Internet, the Mid-Devon district in England recently proposed doing away with all those pesky punctuation marks in traffic signs, including the apostrophe (punctuation marks being troublesome in web addresses, they are probably heading for a long, slow oblivion).  Fortunately, there are enough old-school grammar police around to make a fuss, and the brouhaha forced Mid-Devon to reconsider...

Excerpt: "After a lengthy era of superfluous punctuation running wild through our shop signs and tattoos, who’d have thought we’d ever come to the day when the apostrophe might become an endangered species? But over the past month, a ferocious battle has been going on over in the U.K., with nothing short of the fate of the possessive mark at stake.

It began with local officials in southwestern England’s Mid Devon District moving to streamline street signs to avoid 'potential confusion.' Chillingly, the council went so far as to propose, 'All punctuation, including apostrophes, shall be avoided.' So incendiary was the plan that it made outraged headlines around the globe, culminating Thursday in the issue being put to a vote. Picture it: A King’s Road rechristened 'Kings Road.' And as you hold that image in your mind, you will begin to understand that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who don’t see what the big deal is, and those who are currently making strangled, gasping cries from the backs of their throats. How many of these 'Kings' are we talking about here? The people demand answers!

Members of the Mid Devon District’s local council must have assumed most people fall into the former category — especially when the world is becoming an increasingly hostile environment for apostrophes. Four years ago, Birmingham banished them from its street signs to achieve a 'consistent' standard and 'help emergency services who rely on computerized databases and satellite navigation to find addresses quicker.' Apostrophes do not suit themselves to URLs, which is why Papa John’s and Friendly’s and Arby’s and Wendy’s and Mrs. Butterworth’s don’t have them on their Web addresses. There’s a reason that 'Monty Python’s Flying Circus' is known on the Internet as just and 'Pee Wee’s Playhouse' is just Last year, the venerable British bookseller Waterstone’s dropped its apostrophe for the new sleek moniker Waterstones. At the time, its managing director called it, 'in a digital world of URLs and email addresses, a more versatile and practical spelling.' And if you don’t think there’s any distinction to be made between the possessive and the plural, THAT’S JUST GREAT, WHATEVER."

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