Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/02/13/wakefield_apostrophes/

Wakefield does a Brum with possessive apostrophes

Second council drops 'confusing' punctuation

By Lester Haines

Posted in Bootnotes, 13th February 2009 11:03 GMT

Wakefield Council has done a Brum and dropped possessive apostrophes from street names, prompting a further wave of linguistic indignation from the good burghers of Middle England.

According to the Telegraph, the move is intended to "avoid confusion". The council's director for planning and property, Ian Thompson, defended: "Apostrophes are not generally used in street names as they can lead to problems and confusion when data is transferred electronically for other uses. To avoid confusion our practice has been not to use apostrophes."

Marie Clair of the Plain English Campaign kicked off the protests, demanding: "I'd like to know if they are planning to remove apostrophes from all council documents as well. All the feedback we have had suggests that people want to hold on to the apostrophe. I think the council should listen to its rate payers."

Next in line was John Richards of the Apostrophe Protection Society, who said: "The council should aim its efforts to ensuring that apostrophes are used correctly, not deciding to erase them altogether. It is choosing the easy way out, dumbing down and showing contempt for the large number of area's residents who take a pride in the English language."

Finally, Allan Blaza of the splendidly-titled Pontefract Civic Society insisted: "I think it's a cop out. I'm sufficiently rigorous when it comes to the English language, which is a magnificent language, to feel sure that all the grammatical necessities - not niceties - should be observed."

It's been a bad couple of weeks for our beloved mother tongue, what with apostrophes dropping like flies and the revelation that people simply can't spell "embarrassment" and struggle with "accommodation". The solution is, of course, to "free up" the language, as suggested last year by John Wells of University College London.

Wells tempted the wrath of the Twat-O-Tron by declaring: "Text messaging, email and internet chat rooms are showing us the way forward for English. Let's allow people greater freedom to spell logically. It's time to remove the fetish that says that correct spelling is a principal (principle?) mark of being educated." ®