Editorial Notebook: A big hooray for the lowly apostrophe

Published: Monday, Apr. 1, 2013 - 12:36 am | Page 13A

At the risk of being labeled a fuddy-duddy grammarian, I think it's great that a local council in England backed down from getting rid of apostrophes on street signs.

As someone who has been lucky enough to write for a living, I confess I'm a little overprotective of the English language.

Though I'm not immune to making mistakes myself, I do notice misspellings and grammatical sins on billboards, storefronts, even the headline crawl on cable TV. To be honest, I'm not thrilled by all the businesses that intentionally misspell their names. While I have a weakness for sugary snacks, not so much for the Krispy Kreme or Dunkin' Donuts names.

I even had a twinge of envy reading about the guys who got a lot of publicity a couple of years back for traveling across the country proofreading and fixing signs and menu boards. Armed with pens, chalk and crayons, they called themselves the Typo Eradication Advancement League. They found no shortage of work.

In this latest punctuation commotion, the Mid Devon District Council considered eliminating apostrophes on road signs to avoid "potential confusion." St. Paul's Square would have become St. Pauls Square, for instance.

When word got out last week, critics came out of the woodwork, accusing the council of setting a bad example and pointing out that the whole idea of proper grammar is to avoid confusion.

I loved that there was an outfit called the Apostrophe Protection Society. Who would have thought such a group existed?

Or, should I say, "Who would've thunk it?"

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