I don’t think the apostrophe has ever had as much coverage as it has in January 2012.
With Waterstones dropping its apostrophe, grammar pedants everywhere have been given a platform to convey their outrage and hold up the apostrophe as the beacon of a rational and functioning society (see The Daily Mail and the ‘extinction’ of the apostrophe).
Language is my business. I know that without the apostrophe, meaning can easily be misconstrued and misunderstood. I don’t doubt the apostrophe’s importance in communicating clearly and properly, but I don’t really see what the fuss is with Waterstones. As David Marsh says in The Guardian (smugly), ‘no apostrophe? Hey, no catastrophe.’
I may not think Waterstones has done anything disastrous with the English language, but the apostrophe is sadly unloved in retail. Amidst the grammar drama, I couldn’t help noticing the lack of apostrophes around Falmouth, where I live. Below is pedantic evidence of the unloved apostrophe (and one ridiculous spelling mistake I threw in for good measure).
An apostrophe, like all grammar is there to define and guide meaning. With the Waterstones brand, I think people like John Richards and The Apostrophe Society have missed the point. It’s Waterstones’ brand, it’s Waterstones’ name. They can do what they like with it. They don’t stop making grammatical sense just because they’re having a bit of a rebrand. Whether you think it’s good rebranding is another matter entirely. Knock the branding but don’t knock the grammar. We’ve got more important language issues to tackle.
Waterstones Vs the apostrophe articles
- Telegraph: Waterstones drops its apostrophe
- Guardian: So, Waterstones – no apostrophe? Hey, no catastrophe
- Guardian: Missing the Waterstones apostrophe?
- Mirror: End of an error: Why it’s OK to follow Waterstone’s and ditch the apostrophe