Waterstone's drops the apostrophe and angers Twitter purists

Waterstone's drops the apostrophe and angers Twitter purists

Summary: Waterstone's, the British book specialist, has announced that it is dropping the apostrophe from its name. Does the apostrophe matter, or is it further evidence of the dumbing down of society?

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Waterstone's, the British book specialist, has announced that it is dropping the apostrophe from its name.

James Daunt, Managing Director of Waterstone's has ditched the apostrophe before the trailing 's' in order to make the brand more appealing to the 'digital world of URL's and email addresses'.  Daunt was brought in to run Waterstone's in May 2011.

Daunt said 'Waterstones without an apostrophe is, in a digital world of URLs and email addresses, a more versatile and practical spelling. “It reflects an altogether truer picture of our business today which, while created by one, is now built on the continued contribution of thousands of individual booksellers.”

With the removal of the apostrophe, it is obvious that the book store no longer belongs to Tim Waterstone who set the business up in 1982 and sold it to W H Smiths, another bookseller in 1993.

The removal of the apostrophe has wider implications than simplicity over URL naming. Does it really 'make more sense in this digital world'? McDonalds's and Kohl's see no reason to remove the apostrophe, why should Waterstones?

Apostrophe protection?

John Richards of the Apostrophe protection society was unhappy about the removal of the mark. 'You would really hope that a bookshop is the last place to be so slapdash with English.’ he said.

Commentators are not sure that this latest move will turn the company around saying that the removal of the apostrophe represented a 'de-brand' not a re-brand.

But is the indignation over the loss of an apostrophe justified? Are we dumbing down our language to accommodate Twitter and text speak? Does it really matter that we lose a possessive apostrophe in a branding exercise? Are the pedants right?

Should we really be so irate that Waterstones, selling books about grammar should eliminate the apostrophe? Does it really matter that people are making such a fuss?

Or should we let the apostrophe go -- and leave it to market traders to collect all of our spares?

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16 comments
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  • This is news?

    Really?
    Snooki_smoosh_smoosh
  • Honestly, the way people abuse the apostrophe...

    Honestly, the way people abuse the apostrophe, it's probably for the best. I'd wager most people would have [i]less[/i] grammatical errors if they just didn't use an apostrophe. Number one offender is people using it to pluralize words. I see it so often, I have to wonder if 3/4 the country slept through 1st grade.
    olePigeon
    • RE: Waterstone's drops the apostrophe and angers Twitter purists

      @olePigeon I agree. The only one I can maybe understand is mistaking its and it's...and to be honest, I think its should have the apostrophe since it's a possessive. But hey, English is weird.
      Aerowind
      • RE: Waterstone's drops the apostrophe and angers Twitter purists

        @Aerowind
        English is NOT weird, and it makes NO sense for "its" to be spelled "it's". First, there is already a word that is spelled "it's", which uses the apostrophe as it is designed to be used, the only way it SHOULD be used, to designate a missing letter. Having them both spelled "it's" would introduce unnecessary ambiguity, and break any number of grammatical rules, anyway.
        Second, there is no apostrophe because it serves no purpose in "its". The possessive third person neuter needs no apostrophe because it is NOT a contraction, it is a separate word, just like the other possessive pronouns, "his", "hers", "theirs", etc..
        .DeusExMachina.
    • RE: Waterstone's drops the apostrophe and angers Twitter purists

      @olePigeon<br><br>"Fewer", not "less". :)
      .DeusExMachina.
    • RE: Waterstone's drops the apostrophe and angers Twitter purists

      @olePigeon

      Actually, they slept through school. Most of them are barely functional literates, and couldn't write a paragraph without making mistakes, and finding nothing wrong on rereading. What's the worst of it, they don't know they are making those errors. And I'm not being racist here, but it is even worse in the black community. Their spelling is atrocious, especially owing to the phenomenon of "phonics". Please understand that I am talking about the man-(woman)-in-the-street, Mr. ordinary citizen, here, because I know that there are individuals of every race who have outstanding discriminatory taste in their grammar and vocabulary.

      As for the Brits, they don't have the correct sense of the apostrophe, which should be used to, 1) indicate that one or more letters have been elided to shorten a pronounced group of words such as it's for it is. (unfortunately, they cannot distinguish its from it's.) 2) show possession such as that boy's things, meaning the things which belong to that boy, or that person in the case of the apostrophe following a name.

      As for the apostrophe being dropped to accommodate the web, I think it should go the other way and the web should accommodate the grammars of the world. Otherwise, we will soon find ourselves in a position of "looking at Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" in terms of spelling in the 21st century.

      Worst of all is the overuse of the word that when there are other pronouns which are better fitting. Even news reporters use "that" when referring to a person, when they should actually be using who or whom. And I've heard it from Canadian reporters as well as Americans. Can't say about the Brits, as I don't have direct access to their newsfeeds. Yet.
      bart001fr1
  • RE: Waterstone's drops the apostrophe and angers Twitter purists

    How does this anger Twitter purists? Your article doesn't say.

    I love blogs.
    wendellgee2
  • Deep irony :-)

    Angry Twitter purist's angst will be irrelevant once we all read books on Kindle or Fire.
    I've ordered Fahrenheit 451 ;-)
    jacksonjohn
  • RE: Waterstone's drops the apostrophe and angers Twitter purists

    It is further evidence that people are getting lazier. Grammar and punctuation are fast becoming lost arts. And this lame social networking and texting crap is largely to blame.

    And with the introduction of Twitter...it has only gotten worse. Quite amusing that their users are "angered". Most wouldn't recognize proper sentence structure if it bit them in the a$$.

    The world is becoming populated with dullards.
    IT_Fella
  • RE: Waterstone's drops the apostrophe and angers Twitter purists

    I'm still getting over the fact there is an apostrophe protection society. Interesting. I understand the "uproar" over dropping the apostrophe from the name as it is no longer proper English (instead of possessive it's now plural - in other words it went from meaning Waterstone's store to meaning that there is more than one Waterstone) but is this actually an issue for a tech blog?
    athynz
    • RE: Waterstone's drops the apostrophe and angers Twitter purists

      @Pete "athynz" Athens
      If your last name was O'Sullivan, you'd be one of the charter members of the Apostrophe Protection Society. Micros - - t and the rest of the Unicode crowd have so screwed up the ability of software to tolerate apostrophes, or even keyboards to make the "correct" one, that we probably have serious grounds for a class action suit. My blood boils whenever I have to "repair" my name to accommodate some ignoramus programmer.
      Jack O'Sullivan
      jdos
      • RE: Waterstone's drops the apostrophe and angers Twitter purists

        @jdos<br>You might be interested to know that technically, not only can the apostrophe be dropped from names like O'Sullivan, but the entire "O" prefix, itself. The reality is, the apostrophe in the construct is just an Anglicization of the accented masculine "O/Ua" (feminine "Ui") the gaelic construct for "grandson of". It is more of a typesetters concession to the lack of the accented "O" in English. So in reality the last name in the above construct is really just "Sullivan".<br>This is similar in usage to the gaelic "mac", "son of".<br>Nonetheless, I feel for your unicode pain. Why MS and various text packages feel the need in their fonts to replace the apostrophe (opt-shift-[ on OSX) standardly substituted by the typewriter apostrophe "'", with the TOTALLY incorrect Windows 1252 accent character I have NO idea.<br>Ah, Windows-1252, how I abhor thee.<br><br>P.S. I tried to use use the appropriate characters here, but ZDNet's forum software is too brain dead to actually even display the apostrophe character, or most any other unicode text for that matter.
        .DeusExMachina.
  • RE: Waterstone's drops the apostrophe and angers Twitter purists

    I'm still laughing over Twitter purists ;-)

    Onanistic poseurs perhaps, but purists? No ;-)
    tonymcs1
  • RE: Waterstone's drops the apostrophe and angers Twitter purists

    Perhaps the need for an "Apostrophe Protection Society" is best highlighted by the total abuse of same (and the related single quote) in the present article.<br>It is as if the author went out of her way to use single stroke, high line punctuation marks wherever possible, despite them being entirely inappropriate.<br>Case in point:<br>"Does it really make more sense in this digital world?"<br><br>FTR, unenclosed quotations belong in double quotes not single quotes.<br><br>While we're at it, the lead in to this piece, "Does the apostrophe matter, or is it further evidence of the dumbing down of society?" attempts to present a disparity through sentence construct, that simply is not there.<br><br>But to the point of the present article, the apostrophe servers one purpose, and one purpose only, the designation of a missing letter. It is NOT a de facto mark for designating possession (thus NOT belonging in the possessive pronoun "its", and it NEVER serves to construct plurals.
    .DeusExMachina.
    • RE: Waterstone's drops the apostrophe and angers Twitter purists

      @deusexmachina <br><br>Thank you for the lesson in the construction of gaelic surnames.<br><br>One question. Were you an English teacher? If so, why didn't you reread your last post?<br><br>By the way, I believe the original name of the parent company was W.H. Smith's (booksellers or bookstores, not sure on the last word). I think the apostrophe was dropped from the frontage signs in the late 1980's. (Here is another place where apostrophes belong.)
      bart001fr1
      • RE: Waterstone's drops the apostrophe and angers Twitter purists

        @bart001fr@...<br>No.<br>Other than what was clearly a typo (since fixed) there was nothing wrong with my post, so not sure what you are getting at, nor why that would change depending on my having been an English teacher.<br><br>And no, the apostrophe to designate decades is NOT a place apostrophes belong. Again, apostrophes serve ONE purpose, and one purpose only, the designation of a missing letter. (While they sometimes serve ancillary uses as typesetters conventions, such as to replace the single quote, or to take the place of a syllable separator in languages whose constructs do not map to Latin characters, this is NOT an issue for English grammar.)<br><br>Here ya go: <a href="http://www.lmgtfy.com/?q=use+of+apostrophes+in+dates" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.lmgtfy.com/?q=use+of+apostrophes+in+dates</a>
        .DeusExMachina.