News reaches me that Birmingham City Council has taken the decision to ban all possessive apostrophes from road signs. The move is intended to sort the matter out once and for all following decades of debate across the city.
Birmingham started to drop the use of apostrophes from road signs in the 1950s so that signs in areas such as King’s Norton (or should that be Kings’ Norton?) actually read ‘Kings Norton’. Despite years of calls to have the signs replaced, the council has said not only will it not replace them; it will continue the practice of dropping the apostrophe from all future signs as well. It justifies its decision on the basis of cost, consistency and the fact that council staff spend too much time dealing with complaints about grammar.
The Apostrophe Protection Society (yes, you read correctly) has taken a rather dim view of the announcement, criticising the Council of ‘dumbing down’. And I have to say I quite agree.
So while the apostrophe debates may rage on, they will be utterly pointless in Birmingham at least.
30 January 2009 09:54