Apostrophes and the Apostrophe Protection Society

A lot of people are irritated by misplaced or missing apostrophes. That’s easy to know just by looking of the number of blogs dealing with the subject. Until yesterday, however, I didn’t know of the existence of the Apostrophe Protection Society, an organization that John Richards, and his son, Stephen, formed to deal with apostrophe abuse. I found the story online in a 2001 edition of the UK Boston Journal (thus proving that I am sadly behind the times).

Richards, a retired copy editor living in the Lincolnshire area of England, and his son were sole charter members of the society but their obsession with apostrophes abuse is shared by many Britons. Richards got 50 letters of appreciation from well-wishers after The Telegraph ran a story about the society, and 257 people hastened to join the organization. Richards received 450 letters and even about $140 in unsolicited cash.

Some of the individuals who responded try to do battle on their own to correct the offending marks. One even carries around sticky bits of tape with apostrophes on them and sticks the tape on offending signs. One woman wrote about her outrage with a pub in her area that displayed signs for “todays menue’s” and “Nigels special pudding’s.” She set about correcting the signs herself until her husband restrained her.

Richards fights the offending signs by sending form letters like this when he finds misplaced apostrophes:

“Dear Sir or Madam:
Because there seems to be some doubt about the use of the apostrophe, we are taking the liberty of drawing your attention to an incorrect use.” After an explanation of punctuation rules, his letter concludes, “We would like to emphasize that we do not intend any criticism, but are just reminding you of correct usage should you wish to put right the mistake.”

So far, Richards says only one establishment, the local library, took down an errant apostrophe.

However you feel about apostrophes and their use and misuse, you can read more about them and the Apostrophe Protection Society by clicking here.

Please leave a comment.

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©2009 by Laverne Daley

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