Missing Apostrophe on Road Sign Causes Village Uproar

While grammar is extremely important, is it worth getting upset over? An apostrophe that had vanished from a road sign in Twyford, England, led to discussions by the city council on the best form of action to take.

It all started when former teacher Oliver Gray expressed his discontent about a new road sign for St Mary’s Terrace that appeared without the apostrophe. The complaint led to Lib Dem councillor Tony Bronk, who represents the village, formally put the question to Winchester city council.

“Residents of St Mary’s Terrace in Twyford were surprised and disappointed to find that when their street name plate was replaced last year it was missing an apostrophe,” Bronk wrote. “When this assumed error was questioned, the answer given was that the council’s policy required that all new street name signs must omit any apostrophe formerly shown on such signage.”

Council leader Martin Tod said that while the administration has other priorities, he could see this issue as one that could lead to high emotions. “Clear and unambiguous street and place names are vital for postal and other delivery services and also for the emergency services, and punctuation can make that more difficult, particularly with modern computer systems,” Tod said.

Credit: David Clarke/Solent News & Photo Agency/Solent News

Tod also mentioned that national guidance says that new street names should not have punctuation but he said this did not mean getting rid of all punctuation in existing street names and places. He ultimately agreed the St Mary’s Terrace sign was “confusing” and “not in line with residents’ wishes,” saying that the apostrophe should be restored.

Thanks to Gray and others persistent on the matter, the old sign was recovered and restored. Gray was even given the honour of touching up the apostrophe on the sign. “As an ex-teacher, I’m very, very interested in grammar and apostrophes in particular,” he said.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/nov/17/hampshire-villagers-bring-streets-apostrophe-catastrophe-to-a-full-stop