Cambridge English Southern Europe

Experts in Language Assessment

Apostrophe free street names will not drive down standards

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Removing apostrophes from street names in Cambridge is unlikely to have an effect on English standards worldwide, says a department of Cambridge University.

It was recently announced that Cambridge City Council will be omitting apostrophes in new Cambridge street names in line with national guidelines. The move, which has been seen in other cities and towns around the country, has sparked an interesting debate in the media about English language standards.

An expert from Cambridge English Language Assessment – provider of over 4 million English language exams each year around the world – comments:

“Dumbing down the standard of English is not the road we want to go down, but you have to put this decision into context,” says Roger Johnson, Acting Chief Executive of Cambridge English Language Assessment.

“Lots of people do struggle with using apostrophes, and it’s important that learners are taught how to use them correctly but removing apostrophes from street names in Cambridge is unlikely to have an effect on English learning standards worldwide. Interestingly, we tend to find that students learning English as a foreign language master the apostrophe remarkably well. This is also true of some other complicated grammar rules, which is really encouraging. I’d be much more concerned if there was a proposal to stop teaching grammar in classrooms around the world.”

The apostrophe is a powerful punctuation mark that can have a huge impact on the meaning of a sentence. It was first introduced into English from French in the 16th Century and is used to indicate either possession or the omission of letters.

Written by Cambridge English Southern Europe

January 29, 2014 at 10:00 am

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