An email arrived in my inbox recently with an article from the British newspaper The Times. It was an obituary of John Richards, a former journalist and the man who founded the Apostrophe Protection Society in 2001. This organisation was dedicated to the protection of the apostrophe, ‘a threatened species’, according to Richards. He closed the Society down in 2019; aside from his age at the time (ninety-six), he concluded that ‘the ignorance and laziness present in modern times has won’.
Few punctuation marks arouse such strong emotions as the apostrophe. A quick glance through Google News reveals a number of stories ranging from the outraged (‘Have we murdered the apostrophe?’ from the BBC) to the neutral (‘Apostrophes: are you over- or under-using them? from website StyleBlueprint) to the activist (‘Moving the apostrophe in Mother’s Day’, an article by Ms. that argues that Mothers’ Day would be more inclusive than the current form). My personal favourite was an intriguing headline from the Philadelphia Inquirer from December 2020: ‘Apostrophe anarchy leads to wild speculation over potential Trump pardons.’