Posted: 12:18 pm on 19th March 2015

keep-calm-and-use-an-apostrophe A spectre is haunting Australia – the spectre of apostrophes. Or apostrophe’s. We can’t remember. Apostrophes’?

That darned little mark has been the bane of many student’s – oops, students’ – lives, and its misuse generates more internet bile than many seemingly more important problems.

Recognising all this, policy makers around Australia have done the only sensible thing.

They have banded together, and banned it from the public sphere. No geographic names, or place names, will have an apostrophe.

King’s Cross? Nope, that’s in London. Regent’s Park? Same thing. Sydney only has Kings Cross and Regents Park.

Potts’ Point? Heaven forbid.

French’s Forest? Tell him he’s dreamin’.

According to the NSW Guidelines for the determination of placenames and the Victorian Guidelines for Geographic Names, possessive apostrophes in place names are strictly verboten.

One loyal WasteWatcher had a recent run-in with these state government grammar professors.

Developing his family property in northern Melbourne, he convinced the local council to name a road in the new area after his family, who had lived there for 160 years: “Murray’s Place.”

The development proceeded apace, but somewhere down the line, our friend noticed that the road name had morphed into “Murrays Place.”

A quick email to the council elicited the reason. Apostrophes are out these days. Only written approval from the Office of the Registrar for Geographic Names could save the Murray apostrophe from its fate.

Preliminary enquiries established that the Registrar was unwilling to bend the rules laid down so clearly by his Bible, the Guidelines for Geographic Placenames 2010, Version 2. The road was now, and would ever remain, Murrays Place.

One wonders how much time, and taxpayer money, is spent ensuring that placenames around the country are uniformly, and incorrectly, punctuated.

Does anyone have a similar story?

William Shrubb

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