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Old 01-30-2009, 09:30 AM   #1
HarryT
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Thumbs down Birmingham drops apostrophes

I was outraged to read the following article in "The Register":

Quote:
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.”
Words fail me....
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Old 01-30-2009, 09:33 AM   #2
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I see the 'dumbing down' theory doesn't apply only to the U.S...........
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Old 01-30-2009, 09:36 AM   #3
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As if a even a half-witted programmer couldn't write a hook to test words ending in s with an apostrophe before the s or after.....
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Old 01-30-2009, 09:48 AM   #4
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Here in the US they are overused, particularly with acronyms. Drives my mom mad.
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Old 01-30-2009, 09:51 AM   #5
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Speaking as a local authority on the subject, we dropped the apostrophe in Bham long ago, without the need for city council codification. I blame texting, because typing the whole 10 letters gives you thumb cramps.
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Old 01-30-2009, 09:53 AM   #6
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There was a discussion about this on the radio. Someone suggested apostrophes should be eradicated; but another contributor pointed out that:
"The dogs like my father"
is very different to:
"The dog's like my father"
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Old 01-30-2009, 09:59 AM   #7
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People of the Midlands, arise: and paint those apostrophes back in.
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Old 01-30-2009, 10:00 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DixieGal View Post
Speaking as a local authority on the subject, we dropped the apostrophe in Bham long ago, without the need for city council codification. I blame texting, because typing the whole 10 letters gives you thumb cramps.
I blame it on the fact that you live there. I find it amusing that you live in a town called "Bham". "Thwack" or "Thud" might be better, but "Bham" is good enough.
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Old 01-30-2009, 10:30 AM   #9
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Quote:
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People of the Midlands, arise: and paint those apostrophes back in.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
I blame it on the fact that you live there. I find it amusing that you live in a town called "Bham". "Thwack" or "Thud" might be better, but "Bham" is good enough.
In MY Bham, they would paint the apostrophes back with a drive-by shooting with a paintgun from the "shotgun" side of the pickup. They already shoot red noses on all of the "deer crossing" icon graphic signs.

Edit: It's not Bham like "BAM," but it's Bham like "Bee-ham." Classier!
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Old 01-30-2009, 10:31 AM   #10
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Huh, at first I thought this was one of those internet urban myths, but it's true! A google search turned up the UK Daily Mail article which included the following -

"....Moseley and Kings Heath Liberal Democrat councillor Martin Mullaney, who devised the policy, believes Birmingham should follow the example of the U.S., which dropped the possessive apostrophe in place names in 1890 and Australia, which followed suit in 2001...."


Browsing through my "Melway Greater Melbourne Street Directory 2006" (I'm too mean to buy the latest version), I find -

Under streets: Kings Court, Kings Road, Kings Lane, Kings Way......

Places of worship: St Lukes, St James, St Johns, St Marys......

I've never noticed this before. It just looks plain lazy. It DOES look dumbed down.
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Old 01-30-2009, 10:48 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
I was outraged to read the following article in "The Register":



Words fail me....
There's an Apostrophe Protection Society??

Given the issue, I suppose that doesn't really surprise me. Yet, somehow it does.
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Old 01-30-2009, 11:20 AM   #12
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As if a even a half-witted programmer couldn't write a hook to test words ending in s with an apostrophe before the s or after.....
Well if you have both "Kings Street" and "King's Street" you have a problem. Language used on signs or language used in advertising have always been simplified or adapted for the purpose. To me the change sounds like a well motivated and good change that will have positive consequences.
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Old 01-30-2009, 11:28 AM   #13
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I just remembered something. A couple of years ago when we began to digitize our patient records, the rule was made that we did not include apostrophes, regardless of however the mother chose to spell her child's name. It solved the perpetual question of whether to use the punctuation or not. So if mom calls the kid xxxxx'ica, in our records, the kid is forever xxxxica. Simple fix for a potential world of confusion. Except for the fictional joke names we use to remember the rule: Little De'mon and Little Mon'key become Little Demon and Little Monkey.

Last edited by DixieGal; 01-30-2009 at 11:30 AM.
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Old 01-30-2009, 11:34 AM   #14
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I just remembered something. A couple of years ago when we began to digitize our patient records, the rule was made that we did not include apostrophes, regardless of however the mother chose to spell her child's name. It solved the perpetual question of whether to use the punctuation or not. So if mom calls the kid xxxxx'ica, in our records, the kid is forever xxxxica. Simple fix for a potential world of confusion. Except for the fictional joke names we use to remember the rule: Little De'mon and Little Mon'key become Little Demon and Little Monkey.
Just realized!! You're BACK!! How did it go???
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Old 01-30-2009, 11:49 AM   #15
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Just realized!! You're BACK!! How did it go???
I'm fine as frog hair! Except for being weak and shaky, I feel better than I've felt in years. How are you? Are you over your crud yet? It seems like the cough with cruds last forever.
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