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  • Bob McCalden

February 2024 Newsletter

Dear members,

Welcome to the February 2024 newsletter from the Apostrophe Protection Society! As always, thank you for being members and for supporting the APS. There's been a good further influx of new members since December; I've already welcomed you with a separate email, but I'll welcome you again here.

The world of the apostrophe has been fairly quiet in the media since late last year when the "St Mary's Terrace" story generated so much activity (see the December newsletter if you didn't read the story at the time). But I've done a couple of interviews in recent days, one with an English language magazine, and one with an online podcast. Assuming that these turn into published articles, I'll put them on the website and will give more details next time.

Thank you to those of you that have sent me photos of apostrophe errors recently. I'm working through them, and have added a selection to the website today. I'll put them on our Facebook page as well, for those of you that follow it. I've also written to a couple of specific organisations that have erred in this way. One of these was the UK furniture store "Loaf" - they'd made the common mistake of using an "it's" when it should have been "its". I had a lovely email back from them acknowledging the error and saying they'd put it right. Well done, Loaf!

Several members have raised with me an additional usage of apostrophes (very important to them) regarding many common Irish surnames that include an apostrophe - names such as O'Leary, O'Connor, and O'Brien. For them, it's worse than people just getting it wrong and leaving out the apostrophe. Some computer systems and websites simply reject any attempt to include an apostrophe in their surnames, stating that it's an invalid character, and forcing them to omit it completely, or to enter the "O" as a middle initial. Quite apart from being an incorrect spelling of their surname, it can then lead to significant problems, for example with travel documents, if the name that had to be entered on a web form doesn't exactly match the spelling of their name on an identity document. It's sloppy programming by the developer of the app or website. It just requires a bit more care and effort to check and allow for special characters like an apostrophe in surnames. I've added a note to the "Apostrophe Use" page on the website to cover this. There's a dedicated web site that I've just found run by Tom O'Leary that specifically addresses this topic, so if you're interested please have a look at ""

I realise, of course, that the same issue can also arise for people with hyphenated names, or for those with accents, or even those with particularly long or short names. As a very minor case, I've simply given up with apps or websites that don't allow me to enter the two "C" letters in my surname correctly!

I think that's all for now. Do check out the website periodically to see the latest photos, and please continue to write to me about any apostrophe topic that you'd like to raise.

Best wishes,




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