January 30, 2009

Campaigners bemoan apostrophe policy

A decision by officials in Birmingham, England, to drop possessive apostrophes from road and street signs has drawn the ire of education campaigners.

The Birmingham City Council said it is doing away with the apostrophes in street names including the former St. Paul's Square -- now St. Pauls Square -- to maintain a consistent citywide standard, The Daily Mail reported Friday.

However, John Richards, a retired journalist and founder of the Apostrophe Protection Society, described the policy as absolute defeatism.

This is setting a terrible example, he said. All over Birmingham, and in other cities, teachers are trying to teach children correct grammar and punctuation. Now children will go around Birmingham and see utter chaos. If you don't have apostrophes, is there any point in full stops, or semi-colons, or question marks? Is there any point in punctuation at all?

The sentiment was echoed by Nick Seaton, of the Campaign for Real Education.

It sets children a terrible example, especially when schools are doing their best to help improve grammatical standards, Seaton said.