Apostrophe Protection Society founder retires


A leading chronicler of egregious apostrophe use from around the world has given up his role because “ignorance and laziness” has won.

Retired journalist John Richards, 96, started his Apostrophe Protection Society in 2001 to protect the “much abused” punctuation mark.

But 18 years later he regretfully announced he would close the organisation for two reasons.

“One is that at 96 I am cutting back on my commitments and the second is that fewer organisations and individuals are now caring about the correct use of the apostrophe in the English Language,” he wrote.

“We, and our many supporters worldwide, have done our best but the ignorance and laziness present in modern times have won!”

Can you spot the mistake in this real estate sign? Picture: Supplied
media_cameraCan you spot the mistake in this real estate sign? Picture: Supplied
Open seven days and Monday to Friday?
media_cameraOpen seven days and Monday to Friday?

The website contains plenty of examples of rogue apostrophes, from “taxi’s only” to “don’t’t drink and drive”. It attracted visitors from all over the world and will remain open in the foreseeable future for “reference and interest.”

There have been fears the apostrophe is on its way out for some time, with a 2017 University of Tasmania study finding that even university students struggled to grasp the correct use.

Professor Nenagh Kemp found that literate undergraduates in Hobart placed apostrophes in plural words 13 per cent of the time.

They were also wrongly used with singular possessive words, such as the “cup’s handle” 47 per cent of the time.

A submission on the website. Picture: APS
media_cameraA submission on the website. Picture: APS

For plural possessives, such as “all the cups’ handles”, students got it wrong 72 per cent of the time, The Australian reports.

Texts and social media were partly blamed for the trend, with Professor Kemp saying “the message is the main thing, rather than the correctness of the spelling.”

While some will lament the end of the organisation, those with a passion for punctuation can still rely on Apostroph3Woman online.

The Apostrope Protection Society states there are three rules for the use of apostrophes in English – to denote a missing letter or letters, to denote possession and never to denote plurals.

Read a full explanation of the rules for apostrophe use here.

Originally published as Apostrophe warrior gives up fight


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