The apostrophe is being banned from street names in parts of Devon to "avoid potential confusion". Mid Devon District Council said its new streets had not contained apostrophes for many years, but the policy was now being made official. It said apostrophes could only be found in three street names in the district.
It added that Beck's Square and Blundell's Avenue, both in Tiverton, and St
George's Well in Cullompton, were "all named many, many years ago". Andrew Lacey, from the council, said there was "no national guidance that
stops apostrophes being used". But proofreader Mary de Vere Taylor from Ashburton said the thought of
apostrophes being removed made her "shudder". "It's almost as though somebody with a giant eraser is literally trying to
erase punctuation from our consciousness," she said.
She said there was something "terribly British and terribly reassuring" about
well-written and well-punctuated writing. "Some may say I should get a life and get out more, but if I got out more and
saw place names with no apostrophes where there should be, I shudder to think
how I'd react," she added. Ms de Vere Taylor said while she accepted language had to evolve, in her opinion
the council's decision was a backward step.
Steve Jenner, from the Plain English Campaign, said punctuation, including
the apostrophe, was one of the basic rules of language and he described the
council's decision as "nonsensical". A statement from the council said: "Our proposed policy on street naming and
numbering covers a whole host of practical issues, many of which are aimed at
reducing potential confusion over street names." However, it declined to comment further and did not elaborate on who might be
confused by the use of correct punctuation.