Suspend Your Disbelief

Shop Talk |

apostrophes banned in Birmingham

This sounds like an Onion article. It’s not.

From now on, no sign produced by Birmingham City Council will contain the punctuation mark.

Debates over whether Kings Norton really should be King’s – or even Kings’ – Norton may rage on, but they will be useless. And nearby Druids Heath – which was never actually home to one, let alone many, druids – will never take on the possessive, no matter how furious local apostrophe advocates become.

The council said the move had been taken for the purposes of consistency and to avoid costs and confusion over whether place names should ever take an apostrophe. However the decision was described as “absolute defeatism” by John Richards, the founder of the Apostrophe Protection Society.

“This is setting a terrible example,” Mr Richards said. “It seems retrograde, dumbing down really. 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.”

It is heartening to see more than 200 dismayed comments from Telegraph readers.

By the way, I’ve been asked a couple of times why Fiction Writers Review doesn’t use an apostrophe before or after the s; it’s because the name means “fiction writers are reviewing, in the present tense” not “a review owned by a fiction writer or writers.”

Literary Partners