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London, Mar 16: The Mid Devon District Council has outraged guardians of the English language by proposing to ban apostrophes from new street names - as one of a number of measures aimed at "reducing potential confusion."

Quite what is confusing about an apostrophe was not obvious to residents, although the council has suggested that, when searching internet databases and co-ordinating responses to emergencies, "it's useful to have everyone spelling things in the same way."

But punctuation pedants are far from convinced, the Independent reported.

"What are they doing?! Language is an agreed set of rules and if we stop agreeing that's the case it's going to cause real problems. It could actually be dangerous. It could cause situations where people are misunderstood. Where does this stop? Do we get rid of commas and full stops because they're inconvenient?" Steve Jenner, of the Plain English Campaign said.

John Richards, chairman of the Apostrophe Protection Society, pointed out that regardless of the practical application of the apostrophe, Mid Devon Council had a responsibility to uphold grammatical standards.

Opinions among residents of Bakers View in Newton Abbot - apparently a street that has fallen victim to the council's deep-rooted anti-apostrophe tendencies - ranged from outrage to stoic acquiescence.

Explaining the rationale behind the plans, a council spokesman said: "Our proposed policy on street naming and numbering covers a whole host of practical issues, many of which are aimed at reducing potential confusion over street names."

Among the "host of practical issues" are other measures aimed at regulating the naming of new streets including one that stipulates that "street names that may be open to re-interpretation by graffiti or shortening of the name shall be avoided."

The council insists, however, that no road signs will be changed and the three street names in the area which do have apostrophes - Beck's Square and Blundell's Avenue in Tiverton and St George's Well in Cullompton - will keep their punctuation marks. (ANI)

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