Punctuation Mark Makes A Point About Apostrophes

The Scene-County currents and undercurrents

October 10, 1990|By Marc LeGoff

Having suffered through various viruses, chest colds and allergies this summer, I now seem to be afflicted with a new, mysterious malady known as "obsessive possessive compulsive disorder."

Although not a true physical ailment, obsessive possessive compulsive behavior is more like a neurosis. Its major symptom is a need to attach apostrophes to words or proper names that seem to show possession, but do not have the proper punctuation.

Howard County is full of such inconsistencies. Take the Village of Kings Contrivance for example. Even if it's more than one king who is doing the contriving, don't you think it needs an apostrophe somewhere?

The neighborhood of Macgill's Common, which is a part of Kings Contrivance, has an apostrophe, so why doesn't the village itself?

Actually, some of the road sign exits near Route 32 do list it with one, so I guess I'm not the only one afflicted with this disorder.

I always thought that St. John's Lane had an apostrophe; however, these possessive punctuation marks are missing from the two overhanging signs at the intersection of St. John's and Route 40. This should not be confused with Johns Hopkins Road, which has no apostrophes and is a possessive compulsive's worst nightmare.

Working for a newspaper, I run into these insignificant, gnawing problems on a daily basis -- whether in stories, real estate transfers, business notes or birth announcements. I try my best to be accurate, but it's not always so easy.

For those of you who share my compulsion -- at least I hope I'm not alone -- here is a handy check list of some of the county's other common dangling apostrophiers:

* Harper's Choice does. Harpers Farm Road doesn't.

* Hobbit's Glen does. Hobbits Cove doesn't

* Clary's Forest does. Stevens Forest doesn't.

* Emerson's Reach in Long Reach does. Jeffers Hill and Phelps Luck in Long Reach do not.

* Both Clemens Crossing and Sewells Orchard don't.

* Dorsey's Search does. Dorsey Hall is singular, and therefore, doesn't.

* Now, I'm not too sure about Thompsons Purchase and Hammonds Promise, but I have a gut feeling they do not.

The Howard County Street Map booklet published by the ADC Co. is no help. It takes the "all or nothing" approach to the matter, because none of the above mentioned places are listed with apostrophes. Period.

So, please feel free to set me straight. Send any pertinent apostrophe information and/or corrections to: Marcs Desk, c/o The Howard County Sun, 3300 N. Ridge Road, Ellicott City, Md. 21043.

All responses are welcome!

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