The Conservative council in Mid-Devon, England has mooted a proposal to remove apostrophes from street signs, claiming they cause "potential confusion." I live on a street in East London with an on-again/off-again apostrophe whose presence depends on which database you're using. But given that all serious UK navigation and geocoding is done by postcode, this just seems like a bit of silliness.
The council communications manager Andrew Lacey 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.
"Although there is no national guidance that stops apostrophes being used, for many years the convention we have followed here is for new street names not to be given apostrophes.
"In fact, there are currently only three official street names in Mid Devon which include them: Beck's Square and Blundell's Avenue, both in Tiverton, and St George's Well in Cullompton – all named many, many years ago. No final decision has yet been made and the proposed policy will be discussed at cabinet."
The science fiction legend Damon Knight used to semi-seriously advocate for the abolition of the apostrophe altogether. I remember thinking he had a point at the time.
Council considers ban on apostrophes in street signs [Press Association]
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Part of an ongoing series by weird chart-maker Scott Bateman; link to today’s edition.
In “A Letter to My Allies on the Left,” Rebecca Solnit — one of my literary and political heroes — asks the left to give up the practice of reflexively dismissing the good that politicians do, because those politicians also do terrible things.
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