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Page last updated at 09:37 GMT, Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Road sign apostrophes spark row
Tyndall's Park - or Tyndalls Park Road - next to St Michael's Hill

A ban on using apostrophes has been put in place on road signs in Bristol.

But the move has led to anomalies in many roads in Bristol including Tyndall's Park Road in Clifton.

There, one sign has an apostrophe but a sign the opposite side of the road does not, and a nearby sign for St Michael's Hill has an apostrophe.

Bristol City Council says the ban makes the road signs look "neater" and argues that if capitals are used then apostrophes should not be.

They went on to say older road signs may still have apostrophes - explaining the anomaly on Tyndall's Park Road.

John Richard, the Chairman of the Apostrophe Protection Society, reacted to claims the lack of an apostrophe was "neater".

Council attitude

"That is one of the most disgusting remarks I have ever heard," he told BBC Bristol. "We're talking about grammar here - it doesn't matter if it looks neater, the apostrophe is an important part of English grammar.


Bristol and other cities seem to have decided to ignore the basics rules of the English language.

Roger Mortimer

"It doesn't depend on whether it looks nice or not, I don't understand their attitude at all."

Mr Richard said the council's attitude to apostrophes could have a knock-on with future generations.

"Children are being taught about apostrophes in school, they can come back to the teacher and say 'the council doesn't care about apostrophes, why should we?'"

Roger Mortimer, from the Cotham and Redland Amenities Society, says residents are keen to keep the threatened apostrophes.

"I think it is an example of just ignoring the English language. Punctuation is extremely important and the apostrophe is very valuable - it gives you a sense of place.

"St Michael's Hill - it's a hill named after St Michael. We feel the apostrophe should be put in road signs but nowadays Bristol and other cities seem to have decided to ignore the basics rules of the English language."


A selection of your views of this story.

Is it just me, or does anyone else out there have a sneaking suspicion that there's nobody on this Council who actually knows how to use apostrophes properly, so they've just decided to drop them altogether?
Marcus, Manchester

If the apostrophe is grammatically and historically correct, it should stay. As an editor and proofreader, I know that apostrophes are there for a reason. Language should be correct and clear, even on road signs. There's far too much dumbing-down of standards already - let's not add to it.
Helen, Bristol

Unfortunately, this is probably going to be an older versus younger person's argument; those of us who were taught the importance of grammar will still feel that it is important today. An apostrophe changes the meaning of words and phrases and is therefore important enough to keep - whether it is in prose, reports or street signs.
Carol, Bristol

I believe grammar is an important part of language. Apostrophes change meanings. There are so many places where apostrophes are left out. I find it very annoying. Grammar among young people is bad enough as it is, without the council giving this bad example. I know a lot of people of my own age don't see the point of apostrophes, and not putting them in street names just makes them seem even less important.
Bekki, Bristol

Correct grammer should be used at all times. It's amusing to see sign boards outside food outlets with an apostrophe or an E used out of context. For example: fish and chip's, potatoe, tomatoe.
Bob, Downend

This is just setting an example of laziness for future generations. School teaches you about the use of grammer and punctuation, so why would you want to change this because it looks 'untidy' in public signs. What a pathetic excuse! We like in an English speaking country and this reflect in every type of sign no matter where it is!
Carmel, Bristol

I don't like this 'young vs. old' attitude! Even though my own school doesn't seem to value the apostrophe (judging by the many which are misplaced or, even worse, missing from our signs) - I do. I don't think that leaving out apostrophes makes anything look neater. It just makes it ugly and incorrect. The apostrophe not only clarifies otherwise ambiguous statements, it also adds to the beauty of our language and should therefore be preserved at all costs. I urge you all to go forth armed with permanent markers and correct those road signs! When arrested for vandalism, simply explain that the vandals of old did not have the apostrophe in their language...
Alice, Bristol

Unbelievable! No wonder education in this country is the laughing-stock of Europe. Who are these nincompoops at the Council? What are they really afraid of? (I suspect that they may write tomatoe's on their shopping list's ...!)
Ian, Aust

People should complain to the council about this, it is disgusting, and to claim its to make signs "look neater" is a joke. Apostrophes should stay, the words don't mean the same without them! Its going to make people even more lazy with their use!
Emilia, Bristol

This is black-and-white. No apostrophes is wrong and there is absolutely no excuse for it. Bristol abounds with publishing and language experts. If in doubt, rather than make an uneducated decision like this the council should consult an expert. To many this may seem trivial, but it's sadly symptomatic of a far graver problem in this country - poor education and, worse, too many in positions of authority who don't care.
Kate, Bristol

An absolutely unbelievable decision has been made here. Is it any wonder people's use of the apostrophe is bad, when bad examples are plastered throughout the city's streets? This particular case of poor apostrophe use breaks the most important rules of grammar; not only is it incorrect, but the simultaneous use of old and new signs means it's inconsistent, too!
Gareth, Bristol




SEE ALSO
Council full stop over apostrophe
02 Mar 09 |  West Yorkshire
Road sign apostrophes banned
30 Jan 09 |  England
Time to ditch the apostrophe?
12 Nov 08 |  Newsnight

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