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Thursday, 31 January, 2002, 11:42 GMT
'Apostrophe-box' for spelling errors
A war of words has started over punctuation and grammar among the 14,000 staff at Nottingham City Council.

Fed up with incorrect use of apostrophes, the Council's leader Graham Chapman decided enough was enough.

He challenged his chief executive, John Jackson, to pay a forfeit to charity every time a council document prepared by officers contained a grammatical error.

Now all 14,000 staff have been asked to cough up 1 every time they make a mistake with the proceeds going to charity.

There is a whole generation that has never been taught properly how to use grammar and it gives them an inferiority complex

Council leader Graham Chapman

The money goes into the newly-created apostrophe box.

Councillor Chapman said: "If we can't express ourselves properly, how can we expect people to take us seriously?

"As an organisation, we know we make mistakes and are happy to be told of any errors."

E-mails will also be included in the drive towards correct English.

Common mistakes include "there's" and "theirs", "affect" and "effect" and "complementary" and "complimentary".

Mr Chapman said: "Reports are full of plurals that don't need an apostrophe and the other is 'its' and 'it's' being used in the wrong place.

"There is a whole generation that has never been taught properly how to use grammar and it gives them an inferiority complex."

The founder of the Apostrophe Protection Society, John Richards, said he was "delighted" with the idea.

"I have never heard of an organisation doing this before, but I think it's wonderful.

"I wrote to the council immediately to congratulate them and to offer any support I could."

Click here to go to Nottingham
See also:

05 Oct 01 | Sci/Tech
In praise of apostrophes
20 Oct 00 | UK
A capital offence case
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