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  • Bob McCalden

May 2024 Newsletter



Dear members,


Welcome to the May 2024 newsletter from the Apostrophe Protection Society. As always, thank you for being members and for supporting the APS. We've again had a good influx of new members over the last few weeks; I've already welcomed you with a separate email, but I'll welcome you again here. Welcome!


I had been planning on sending this newsletter around the end of May, but there's been so much media attention relating to an apostrophe story that I thought I should bring it forward to tell you the news.

Some of you will recall a story last November (I talked about it in the December newsletter) about a street name in Twyford in Hampshire that had lost its apostrophe a while ago, and where the local council had finally decided to scrap their policy and had reinstated the missing apostrophe in the street sign. I suspected it wouldn't be the last time that I reported on a local council deciding to get rid of apostrophes, and I wasn't wrong.


About two weeks ago, a story appeared in a local online newspaper in North Yorkshire regarding the decision by North Yorkshire Council to scrap apostrophes from street signs. The reason given was to do with punctuation in street names confusing computer databases. This didn't seem a very likely reason at all and, even if that was the case, it should have been the computer databases that needed fixing, not the correctly punctuated street signs.


The street sign that had been initially targeted was St Mary's Walk (rather coincidental since the Twyford street was St Mary's Terrace) in Harrogate, and the council had replaced the existing sign with a new one that omitted the apostrophe. Local residents were suitably unimpressed, and one enterprising resident even replaced the missing apostrophe with one of their own crafted from black plastic tape (see photo above)! The story was picked up by other media outlets, and it rapidly became a much bigger story. I was interviewed on several BBC Radio stations, appeared on Channel 5 TV news, and was interviewed by and/or quoted in numerous newspapers. The story was even picked up by the New York Times (they interviewed me), the Seattle Times, and an Australian newspaper. I also wrote to the chief executive at North Yorkshire Council explaining why I thought they had made the wrong decision.


I am delighted to say that last week the council completely scrapped the plan, announced they will not be phasing out apostrophes, and will be reinstating the missing apostrophe in any signs that have had them removed. One of the councillors even cited the Apostrophe Protection Society as "a force to be reckoned with". I had an email reply from the chief executive as well confirming all of this. Local residents' feedback will have had a part in this decision, and I'm not claiming that it was solely the APS that persuaded the council to re-think, but clearly the media coverage about the APS will have had a significant part to play.


I will put a few links to some of the radio and newspaper interviews and articles into a blog post shortly, if anyone wants to see more detail.


Successful campaigns like North Yorkshire Council are great, and I'm still "buzzing" from it!


In the last newsletter, I included a link to the APS website store, and suggested you might like to order an official APS t-shirt. I'm very pleased to say that many of you did order one, and we hit the "top seller" list. As the summer is now getting underway in the UK (and other places), why not consider one yourself and keep us on the list for a while longer?


This month's request is to see if we can boost membership further. We're very nearly at 4000 members, which is wonderful and not something I had even hoped for when I introduced membership last year. Increased membership numbers gives the APS more credibility in persuading organisations (like local councils) to listen, so it's really helpful. If you know someone who has an interest in the correct use of language and punctuation, and who isn't already a member, perhaps you could suggest they join. I'll report back next time on how the membership has increased.


That's all for now. Thank you, as always, for supporting the APS.


Best wishes,

Bob

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