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A sad day for the noble apostrophe

31 January 2009 No Comment
This sign includes an apostrophe

Image via Wikipedia

I was not shocked to read the headline City drops apostrophes from signs.

It just made me sad to read that the city of Birmingham, Britain’s second city, has decided not use the possesive apostrophe on signs in the future.  They say this decision will cut costs and avoid confusion.

Why am I sad? Because I love the English language!  I love its quirky rules and exceptions to those rules.  I love that everything is  not spelled phonetically.  I love that there are several meanings to some words, and several spellings to others.  This is  what makes English, well English.

On his blog, Birmingham City Councillor Martin Mullany says, “Many English language countries have made a national decision to drop the possessive apostrophe. The USA dropped theirs in 1890 and Australia in 2001.”

Yes, well they are not England are they?  And isn’t ENGlish actually the language of ENGland?

I understand that one of the great things about language is that it changes and grows and ‘morphs’ with society, but it seems to me that this is baby and bathwater.

I say, hold onto the quirky. Keep the nuance. Love what’s different.

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  • Chris Edwards said:

    We should bring back the Germanic ‘e’ that the apostrophe replaced. That’d sort out the confusion.

  • Paul Stallard said:

    My boss was equally enraged

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