UCL professor wades into St Pancras Coroner's Court apostrophe row

Thursday, 15th December 2011

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Published: 15 December 2011
by TOM FOOT

AN eminent UCL professor has waded into the St Pancras Coroner’s Court apostrophe row calling for the “abolition” of possessive punctuation marks.

John Wells, former president of the International Phonetics Association, was contacted by the BBC for comment after the New Journal story about the rogue sign in Camley Street earlier this month.

Bizarrely, the Camden Council sign has “coroner’s” and “coroners” in the same sign.

In his blog Professor Wells said: “The case of coroner’s/coroners’/coroners court is not unambiguously clear-cut.

It reminds me of the inconsistent naming of London tube stations.

King’s Cross is supposed to have an apostrophe, but not Colliers Wood or Golders Green.

I’m really not sure where to put the apostrophe, if any, in ­Gardener’s/Gardeners’/Gardeners Question Time.

In the same spirit, I can live with ­Coroners Court, too. It would really be better if we abolished all possessive apostrophes.”

Professor Wells wrote the first edition of the Longman’s pronunciation dictionary in 1990 and invented a phonetic alphabet for ­computers in the 1990s. A Camden Council spokesman said the sign would not be altered because of government cuts.

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