Feeds

Birmingham drops the possessive apostrophe

'Pedants’ revolt' brewing, Times suggests

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Defenders of correct punctuation should look away now, because Birmingham City Council has voted to drop possessive apostrophes from its street signs, in the process risking a "pedants' revolt' as Middle England rises to combat this latest menace to our beloved mother tongue.

According to the Times, the decision came following "tense grammatical debate". Martin Mullaney, chairman of the council’s transportation scrutiny committee, argued that "for some time the apostrophe had been slipping from signs all over the city".

He further insisted that "since the monarchy no longer owned Kings Heath, or Kings Norton, and since the Acock family no longer owned Acocks Green, the punctuation marks that once appeared in those names were now redundant".

He said on his blog: “The consensus of the city council on the future use of possessive apostrophes in place names is that they should not be reintroduced. This view will, I know, upset a lot of residents.”

Indeed, since the council first proposed joining forces with the UK's greengrocers, there has been considerable local opposition to the move. Regarding King's Kings Heath, one local defended the apostrophe on a community website, explaining: “It’s important because it conveys the meaning of the Heath more accurately as belonging to the King - whether this be real or symbolic - in singular possessive terms.”

The Apostrophe Protection Society doesn't much like the idea either. Its founder and chairman, John Richards, decried: “It’s setting a very bad example because teachers all over Birmingham are teaching their children punctuation. Then they see road signs with apostrophes removed.”

However, there is a (sort of) plausible reason for the move. As the Times notes, Oz in 2001 expunged apostrophes from place names "for the sake of consistency in the databases used by the emergency services". Mullaney rested his case with: “It would be tragic if the ambulance couldn’t find your street if you forgot to use the possessive apostrophe.” ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
NSA man: 'Tell me about your Turkish connections'
Spooks ask Dabbsy to suggest a nice hotel with pool
Russia sends SEX-CRAZED GECKOS to SPAAAAACE!
In space... no one can hear you're green...
Carlos: Slim your working week to just three days of toil
'Midas World' vision suggests you retire later, watch more tellie and buy more stuff
Indian techies-in-training face down MAN-EATING LEOPARD - and WIN
Big cat causes big trouble at Mumbai college
Yahoo! Japan! launches! service! for! the! dead!
If you're reading this email, I am no longer alive
Plucky Rockall podule man back on (proper) dry land
Bold, barmy Brit adventurer Nick Hancock escapes North Atlantic islet
Motorist 'thought car had caught fire' as Adele track came on stereo
'FIRE' caption on dashboard prompts dunderheaded hard shoulder halt
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.