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  • Bob McCalden

July Newsletter

Dear APS members,

Once again, I'm delighted to welcome all the new members to the Apostrophe Protection Society, and to warmly thank existing members for being there and helping to support the APS. Having your support really makes a difference.

I'm glad to see that T-shirt sales through our website store are continuing to trickle through. If you haven't already had a look, please do so. And, as I've noted before, if you find any other apostrophe-related products that you think would be a good addition, please let me know.

In my last newsletter, I mentioned that I was hoping to get some media coverage for the APS. Unfortunately, I've not had any real success so far with this. I've sent a number of emails to various media outlets, but it seems they get so many stories every week that it's rather down to luck whether anything gets picked up. I'll continue to try to get media attention, as it would really help with spreading the word. If any of you have experience with getting press releases noticed, do please drop me a line and we can explore opportunities.

Following an email from one of you recently, I've been looking at the use (or not) of apostrophes with place names and road names. It really is a wonderfully inconsistent practice. In the USA, there's broadly a policy of no apostrophes in place names. The use of apostrophes in the names of geographic features has been discouraged since 1890, when the US Board on Geographic Names was established. Whilst the decision is strictly up to local municipalities, they almost always take guidance from the federal level, and that means there are hardly any place names with apostrophes. There are just a handful of special place names that have been allowed to keep an apostrophe - Martha's Vineyard (Mass), Ike's Point (New Jersey), John E's Pond (Rhode Island), Carlos Elmer’s Joshua View (Arizona), and Clark’s Mountain (Oregon). It's a very different, though inconsistent, picture in the UK. The majority of place names include apostrophes where needed or where historically used. There have been a few district/city councils that have declared they will stop using them (Birmingham and Bristol are perhaps the most widely cited), but some councils have reversed this position after public feedback. Personally, I think that apostrophes in place names and road names are important as they help give a sense of history and meaning to the names. Apostrophes also get used to form abbreviations of place names on road direction signs. These can sometimes be less than meaningful to people from outside the area: there's a road junction near to where I used to live where the road options are marked "A'shot" and "B'shot", which is fine if you know that two nearby towns are "Aldershot" and "Bagshot", but less helpful if you don't know the area!

I'd be interested to hear what other English-speaking countries do with apostrophes in place names - please let me know, and please let me know what you think about apostrophes in place and road names. I'll add a new page to the APS website on this topic, and would love to include opinions and examples from you. Best wishes, Bob

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