UK local authorities seem to have a fraught relationship with punctuation and spelling.

Birmingham City Council decided in January 2009 to remove the possessive apostrophe from its place names — presumably the issue was too contentious to resolve otherwise. St Paul’s Square, King’s Norton and Druid’s Heath have thus become St. Pauls Square, Kings Norton and Druids Heath. There’s also the issue of keeping up with the apostrophe Joneses. To quote Martin Mullaney, chairman of the council’s transportation scrutiny committee:

If the council gave one road an apostrophe, residents on countless others would want one. “The cost would be astronomical”.

In 2010, the London Borough of Barnet made a bit of a mess with its education Department’s posters, which stated that “Our school’s are amongst the top performing in the country”. Oh dear.

I wonder what council officials would make of the wonderful Victor Borge’s phonetic punctuation method.

Does anyone else remember watching Victor Borge first time round, on TV?

By Marian Dougan


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