Quote of the Day: Apostrophe Eradication in America

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From Barry Newman of the Wall Street Journal, explaining why it’s Earl’s Court in London but Earls Court in Bloomington:

The U.S., in fact, is the only country with an apostrophe-eradication policy. The program took off when President Benjamin Harrison set up the Board on Geographic Names in 1890. By one board estimate, it has scrubbed 250,000 apostrophes from federal maps. The states mostly—but not always—bow to its wishes….The committee has granted only five possessive apostrophes in 113 years: Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.; Ike’s Point, N.J.; John E’s Pond, R.I.; Carlos Elmer’s Joshua View, Ariz.; and—in 2002—Clark’s Mountain, Ore.

It’s an apostrophe apocalypse! And there’s no appeal from the Borglike efficiency of the naming board: “We don’t debate the apostrophe,” says Jennifer Runyon, one of the committee’s three staffers. Resistance is futile.

(Except for Clark’s Mountain. How did that one get through? I sort of understand the other four exceptions, but what kind of clout did the Clark’s people bring to bear in order to browbeat their way into apostrophe nirvana?)

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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