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An English Town Drops Apostrophes From Street Signs. Some Aren’t Happy.

Malcolm Wood, an English teacher in North Yorkshire, did a double take recently as he passed by a quiet road, St. Mary’s Walk. The street’s new sign had no apostrophe.

The change, part of the North Yorkshire Council’s move to phase out apostrophes from its street signs, has elicited dissent in Harrogate, a Victorian spa town in northern England. Soon after the new sign was erected, someone drew an apostrophe on it.

“If you get rid of the apostrophe, what’s next?” said Mr. Wood, who has spent years teaching students the rules of English grammar. “Commas? Full stops?” He asked, “We just use emojis?”

The North Yorkshire Council said that its policy of phasing out apostrophes was not new.

“We appreciate that residents value the meaning and history behind official street names which often date back centuries, and that the removal of punctuation is seen as a reduction in standards,” Karl Battersby, the council’s director of environment, said in a statement on Thursday. “However, the decision does have benefits, such as helping to prevent complications while searching on databases, for instance.” He said the council would be reviewing the matter.

Andrew Jones, the member of Parliament for the Harrogate and Knaresborough constituency in North Yorkshire, sent a letter on Wednesday to the head of the council on behalf of several constituents who had complained to him that apostrophes had been dropped from signs for St. Mary’s Walk and King’s Road in Harrogate.

“We spend time, effort and money educating children about the correct use of punctuation so our councils should use punctuation correctly too,” Mr. Jones said in a statement that urged the council to reverse its policy.

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