British Street Signs Omit Apostrophes

In Britain, apostrophists are marking street signs to correct what they consider an assault on the English language. King's Road has become Kings Road to help emergency vehicles get to the right address, a problem that recently led to a teenager's death. The British government has recommended no punctuation in street signs.Apostrophist

One grammarian defended the corrections to street signs: "If the apostrophe needs to be there, I don't think it's vandalism because I would say the language is being vandalised." And the chair of the Apostrophe Protection Society said, "I don't know why their computers couldn't be trained to recognise an apostrophe."

This isn't the first time someone took a black marker or paintbrush to a sign. In 2009, a British man added an apostrophe to correct a "St. John's Close" sign in front of his house. But it didn't last: neighbors scratched off his work. At the time, the government council favored no punctuation for the sake of "simplicity."

Visitors to the stairwell in the Beck Center at Statler Hall at Cornell may notice, in addition to the faint smell of smoke, an "n" added to "Personel." Who would do that?

Image source.

Discussion Starters:

  • What's your view of the decision to remove punctuation from street signs: an assault on language, a practical move, or something else?
  • Should people who add signs be punished? Are they vandals?
  • How did we get to this point: why can't a GPS recognize an apostrophe?