It seems Birmingham isn’t the only city having bother with place name apostrophes, as shown by the Londonist website’s post on Should King’s Cross Have An Apostrophe?. Unlike Birmingham City Council, however, the various London authorities haven’t reached a unanimous decision.
The simple truth is that there is no ‘official’ stance on the name. Or, if there is, no one pays any attention. While apostrophes are often crucial in written language, they are less important to place names. No one reads ‘Kings Cross’ and assumes that multiple monarchs must be crossing the street. It’s a label and nothing more. If you need a rule, try using an apostrophe when talking about the stations and no apostrophe when describing the area. It makes no sense, but that’s often the case with rules.
Do you live in an area with punctuation dilemmas? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
By Marian Dougan
Thank you for this interesting post. Being a language geek, and working with them every day, this is always a contentious issue. Stricly speaking, as far as I’m concerned, a sign such as “King’s Cross” without an apostrophe looks plain wrong! However, I’m sure there are people who would argue otherwise.
It looks wrong to me too, and then there’s the lack of consistency from one neighbourhood to another. But I suppose that’s part of what makes cities fun.