Welcome To The Home Of The English Language


A new welcoming sign has been put up by the chimps in charge of such things at King’s Cross Station. Is it being too picky to expect the correct use of apostrophes? Or should we all just not bother? Reader Xan forwards the other one, even more horrible, from Tesco – or Tescoe’s – who really should know better. I wouldn’t mind, but it’s such a hilariously simple rule: If it doesn’t abbreviate or possess, there’s no apostrophe, ever.

15 comments on “Welcome To The Home Of The English Language”

  1. Alison says:

    I am hugely, hugely finicky about the use of apostrophes. To me it’s incredibly important, and I don’t care how anal that makes me sound. Grammar is grammar, and having this at a main station just makes us look really, really stupid. Although nothing will beat boxe’s, which remains a jaw-dropping favourite.

  2. Jez Winship says:

    This happens quite a lot with signs on which there is a plural of a noun ending in a vowel. It seems people aren’t happy with the appearance of the word, and have to separate off the pluralising ‘s’ from the preceding letter. It suggests a decreased familiarity with the written word in general, to the extent that it has begun to look strange. I saw a category of books labelled as biography’s the other day. It might seem churlish or patronising to point out such a mistake (it was handwritten on a piece of cardboard in a charity shop), but then shouldn’t we be encouraging the proper use of language (written or spoken) so that people can say what they want to say with greater clarity and articulacy.

  3. glasgow1975 says:

    I’d be inclined to let the charity shop off, when my mum used to help out in one every sale was written in a ledger, she went away for lunch and when she came back the book had ‘per of tits’ written in it . . .it was of course pair of tights! 🙂 Much hilarity at home that day, but of course nobody pointed it out to the writer as that would be cruel.
    The taxi sign is terrible and should be replaced.

  4. P DeTair says:

    I think it’s actually a brilliant tribute to the general apostrophe confusion over the station itself! Even the National Rail Enquiries site has it has Kings Cross, and it seems to be a particular issue for the hotel industry as Travelodge, Premier Inn and Holiday Inn all spell it the same way.

  5. keith page says:

    Even BBC news captions feature this kind of thing nowadays; maddening as what Tim Moore refers to as ‘upspeak’ [ the infuriating rising inflection]

  6. Dan Terrell says:

    A grammar error?
    And here I thought it was a clever advert for a dance hall of the type where you pay a professional to dance with you. Something for the coming Olympics visitors; harkening back to the late Twenties. Ten cents a dance, that’s all they pay me…

  7. snowy says:

    Since no one else has stooped so low.

    Capital letters are the difference between “helping your Uncle Jack off a horse” &”helping your uncle jack off a horse”

    Punctuation is the difference between knowing your sh!t or knowing you’re sh!t.

  8. Matt Brown says:

    Perhaps it’s not a grammar error at all, and the writer was using the apostrophe to indicate a contraction of taxicabs.
    But I doubt it.

    I’ve written a fair bit about the apostrophe (or lack of) in King’s Cross. I’m fairly happy with it either way. If there’s no chance of confusion, I don’t see why it’s needed. We all know the name comes from a cross/statue to King George IV, so the apostrophe show’s the historical connection. But as the king and his cross are long gone, and no one needs to know about them in order to catch a train, Kings Cross seems fine. Put another way, it’s now just a name, or a label, rather than a description, so the apostrophe is unnecessary baggage. I’m well aware that grammar purists don’t like that stance, though.

  9. Vickie says:

    I, too, have been seeing more and more of these apostrophe castrophes lately…extremely annoying. We all seem to be near- completely surrounded by emerging idiots who have somehow managed to become “in charge.” Scary….

  10. Lostintown says:

    I hate myself for caring about apostrophes (or should that be apostrophe’s?) but I do,dammit!

    We have a similar problem to Kings Cross in Scotland with St.Andrews and Princes Street in Edinburgh. Both completely apostropheless.

  11. Brian says:

    Here in Australia it is a rule that geographic place names do not have apostrophes. I suspect that there is an international agreement for consistency. Some years ago when I had a passing interest in matters geographic I did read the reasoning behuind the decision but can’t bring it to mind at the moment with sufficient clarity for the readership.

  12. Anne Fernie says:

    Don’t get me started..Asda’s ’10 items or “less”‘, the universal abuse of verb tenses i.e. ‘I was sat’/’I am sat’, the confusion between the verbs ‘to lie’ and ‘to lay’ i.e. ‘we were layed on the grass’ etc. etc. I gave up frothing about apostrophes when Goldsmith’s College decided to drop theirs a few years ago. Still, some things grate, such as University of Manchester’s huge banner announcing that the new student union building would be offering ‘confectionary’ – oh dear.

  13. Dan Terrell says:

    And the universal: “I’m lovin’ it.”

  14. Helen Martin says:

    “the apostrophe show’s…” oh well, oh H E double hockey sticks. @Anne, I really feel for you as I find myself muttering to myself a great deal these days. The kindergarten teacher next to my library had not even heard that there was a difference between ‘less’ and ‘fewer’. I’m all in favour of a living language but could ours not live with a little more grace?

  15. Helen Martin says:

    I am just re-reading The Eyre Affair and, through repetition, have had my attention drawn to ‘on to’ and ‘onto’. It has reminded me of a similar error that I have seen elsewhere ‘into’ and ‘in to’. I went ‘on’ (down the road) ‘to’ the next town. I stepped ‘onto’ the box. I went ‘into’ the room and I went ‘in to’ see my uncle. I realise there are gray areas in this but when it isn’t gray it would be nice to have it right.

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