Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Readers: Can you solve an apostrophe mystery?

Apostrophe errors drive me crazy. So I was shocked on a recent visit to London's Park Lane Hotel when I noticed the sign above. How did this posh hotel, I wondered, make such a big, honking grammatical error?
Then, later the same day, I saw another major apostrophe omission on a building: "Duke of Yorks Headquarters."
Was this a cultural difference -- like the way the British spell colour or recognise?
I asked a British friend. No luck. He uses apostrophes the same way I do.
Next, I Googled.
Along with discovering several British restaurants called Apostrophe, I found a Website for the UK-based Apostrophe Protection Society, evidence that some of our friends across the pond feel strongly about apostrophes. And I learned from a 2009 story that Birmingham, England's second largest city, had stopped using the apostrophe in city signs to avoid dealing with the things.
But I still don't have an answer about the signs I saw in London. Anyone have a clue about this? Anyone?


jon golden said...

Both of those words, "Ladies" and "Gentlemens" are meant to be possessive, and REQUIRE the use of an apostrophe. For the word "Ladies," the apostrophe would appear after the 's', while in "Gentlemens," the apostrophe would appear before the 's'.

Pam Kelley said...

Jon -- Right you are. I'm just wondering if there's some reason for the apostrophe omission that I'm missing -- possibly a British grammar usage difference I'm not aware of. It seems like such an obvious error that I find it hard to believe it wasn't intentional. Same with "Duke of Yorks Headquarters."

Anonymous said...

Maybe the guy who painted the signs is an uneducated bloke who simply didn't know any better.