Thursday, 28 March 2013

Apostrophe Catastrophe

Those of you who recall the Waterstone(')s debacle will know that I have struggled to find inner peace ever since they dropped the apostrophe from their name at the beginning of last year.

It appears that I'm not the only one who doesn't cope well with change...

The sometimes vexing question of where and when to add an apostrophe appears to have been solved in one corner of Devon: the local authority is planning to do away with them altogether.

Later this month members of Mid Devon district council's cabinet will discuss formally banning the pesky little punctuation marks from its (no apostrophe needed) street signs, apparently to avoid "confusion"...

Brand names have never been subject to the same apostrophic rules as possessive nouns. Dillons Bookshop was always just as valid as Waterston's. The discomfort, for me, comes from knowing that something that was there now isn't there for the simple reason that people find it too fiddly. 

Whereas I can fully accept the argument that apostrophes really bugger up URLs and therefore have little place in our digital age (the argument Watersons used), I find it harder to sympathise with the idea that a portion of the British public find apostrophes 'confusing', therefore we should all drop them. I find HMRC tax returns confusing - can we do away with those, too?

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