You, Me and Apostrophe

I rather miss the London greengrocer’s apostrophe, all those apple’s and pear’s, but resolutely omitting the apostrophe from King Edward’s potatoes.

The supermarkets have now become our modern day costermongers and, conscious not to offend their customers’ linguistic sensibilities, give us an aisle for 10 items or fewer, rather than less.

[T]his may assuage the pedants among you but Transport for London is having none of this grammatical malarkey. King’s Cross Station gained its apostrophe as late as 1951 (apparently around 1835 a 71ft monument to King George IV stood near the station), Transport for London however retained Earl’s Court; Queen’s Park; Regent’s Park; Shepherd’s Bush; St James’s Park; St John’s Wood; and St Paul’s. Could it be that if the station’s name is synonymous with the great and the good it retains its little squiggle?

Some stations have been renamed: Bayswater & Queen’s Road now plain Bayswater; Bishop’s Road (Paddington); Dover Street & St James’s (Green Park); Great Portland Street & Regent’s Park (Great Portland Street); and Queen’s Road (Queensway).

Parson’s Green lost its around 1909, 10 years later Golder’s Green went the same way, while Rayner’s Lane lasted until 1921.

Barons Court, being a contrived name (to fit with Earl’s Court) has always been without, Collier’s Wood saw theirs go in 1987.

St James’s Park has had the most variety, with three main forms: St James (used rarely), St James’ (used from around 1908 until the elimination of the apostrophe in 1933), and St James’s (used prior to 1908 and after 1951). Transport for London have decided, in their wisdom, that the latter is preferable.

Should we soon be seeing notices from Transport for London advertising the virtues of taxi’s?

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