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Dropping the apostrophe - simplification without sense

by: Marilyn Owen (16 January 2012)

The writer of a recent newspaper article has complained that Waterstone's the bookseller has decided to drop the apostrophe from its brand name. The reason the company has given is that dropping the apostrophe is in line with web filtering for modern technology in these days of widespread internet, emails and texts.

It is a valid point – but why, may I ask, are they keeping the "s" in their name? The apostrophe signifies the possessive adjective denoting that the business belongs to Waterstone. If the apostrophe is dropped, that leaves us with Waterstones in plural – which in turn is grammar with no sense.

The correct thing to do in my opinion is to follow the lead of WH Smith and just keep the name plain and simple. There will then be no possessive and no plural in the name.

Take for example the supermarkets. Tesco is just the name of the company with no apostrophe but Sainsbury's so far has retained its apostrophe and plural s. It's a straight choice between the two.

Waterstone's is a respected chain of booksellers and should therefore be more cautious in its bid to simplify its brand name. The rules of the English Language should continue to be upheld even in the face of website URLs and email addresses. By all means do simplify the brand name – but do so following logic and grammatical common sense.

Waterstone is just fine.

Views: 1277

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