If you’re a stickler for sentence structure, steer clear of Birmingham. The second-largest city in England has opted to drop all apostrophes from its street signs, citing the hooks in the air as “confusing and old-fashioned.”
So what are Birmingham’s primary school teachers to do from now on? Allow their charges to make “its” stand in for “it is” on a moment’s notice?
Yes, I’m one of those sticklers, one who is appalled that her daughter will soon be learning to read and write in a world that’s gotten lax on language. Do you know why the apostrophe is confusing in Birmingham? I would hazard a guess that it’s due to a lack of education in the schools and a lack of sticklers on the streets. Because the best way to make punction confusing is to ignore it.
How am I supposed to teach my daughter to spell when every closing sign says they’re open “’til midnite” and the post office posts a notice warning you not to “loose your keys”? I’m not sure if I should tell her we’re eating at Joe’s (denoting there is
one owner, a guy named Joe) or Joes’ (where there are two proprietors
with a common moniker).
We all make mistakes – especially now that fast fingers over the keyboard have taken much of the thought out of the process. But if the signmakers, who are paid to put their focus on proper sign making, are too confused, so are the people reading them!
Want to make it all less confusing? Keep putting your pressure on the public – and the schools – to keep punctuating. Or perhaps they’d prefer we check out Birminghams’ business center rather than Birmingham’s?