thinglets: City Orders Bad Grammar

apostrophe now

Now I know, as an English teacher myself, that one of things a student hates most is studying grammar. For years I have had to contend with students who opine, "Oh, what difference does it make?" In defense of my chosen subject and profession, I maintained that, like any discipline, there were certainly times when one could toy with conventions for a purpose, however, in order to do so, one must know existence and application of the conventions.

Apparently, in the home of the English language, all of my efforts would be immediately overturned by the Birmingham City Council who recently decided to abandon possessive apostrophes on city signs as "it would cost too much to change signs referring to areas such as Kings Norton, Druids Heath and St Pauls Square."

A further justification was offered as the Council "said the decision had been taken in an effort to end decades of debate over the lack of punctuation on some signs."

With the world economy in collapse, it's good to see Birmingham saving the cost of person with a bucket of paint and a stencil going around the city. And after all "Councillor Martin Mullaney said the authority had consulted with the Plain English Society and Plain Language Commission before taking its decision." 

Perhaps in the most absurd aspect of the story, the Council's use of the PES and PLC's authority was to countermand "John Richards, the founder and chairman of the Apostrophe Protection Society."

With these powerful lobby groups in mind, I'm (or Im as the case may be) tempted to start up a few grammar oversight efforts myself. I invite people to weigh in on one of the following:

  • The Colon Preservation Society
  • Misses Dash
  • Parents for Parentheses
  • Kids Need Braces
  • Total Ellipse of the Heart
  • To Air Quote is Human