Are you ready for this? The city of Birmingham, England, has (by decree) decided to drop possessive apostrophes. See the story on the London Times website.
Actually, they’re addressing a real problem: the inclusion of apostrophes in street names. Their reasoning is that it can confuse computer systems that look up street addresses. And, the article points out, no apostrophes are used by the United States Board of Geographic Names, with only five exceptions (Martha’s Vineyard is cited as an example).
Uh, so how have all these computer systems been doing it thus far? If you’ve ever looked something up on Google Maps, you’ll find that the software is pretty amazing at interpreting what’s typed in.
Oh, and apostrophes are expensive! “The cost would be astronomical,” the article quotes a council member as saying.
But, someone is riding to the rescue. The Apostrophe Protection Society in Lincolnshire has spoken, claiming it undermines proper education. I tried to find a URL for the society (surely the apostrophe deserves its own website!) but the URL seems dead.
Read the article for yourself and leave a comment on the Times website and one here too.