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8:59am on Saturday, 29th August, 2009:

Different Forms


We're in Bristol at the moment. Today, we're going to my brother's 25th wedding anniversary do in Wales, which won't be quite the celebration it might have been had he not copped his clogs last month, but hey, my daughters get to see their cousins again.

We stopped in Bristol so we could drop off my elder daughter's stuff (she goes to university here). This means we needed a hotel room for three (me, wife, younger daughter) which limited our options somewhat. An Internet search dug out only two hotels that had rooms for three free: some cheapo place out near Bristol Parkway industrial site; the Grand Hotel. I chose the Grand Hotel, which is the city's oldest. Spookily, my brother died in the Grand Hotel in Brighton — <PROUDLY>the first person to die there for 40 years</PROUDLY>.

Anyway, the place we ate last night was opposite a sign that read, "ST. STEPHENS ST.".

No no no!

OK, so first up, the church it was nearby was Saint Stephen's, so there's an apostrophe missing there.

Many street signs are like that, though. What prompted me to blog about it was a different error of punctuation...

So, street sign designers, what you need to know is that "Saint" is shortened to "St": it;s a contraction, not an abbreviation. "Street" is shortened to "St." as it's an abbreviation, not a contraction. So the sign should have read: "ST STEPHEN'S ST.". This distinction between abbreviations and contractions is why it's "Dr Bartle" and not "Dr. Bartle"; unless that street's full name is actually STREET STEPHEN'S STREET it ought not to have the dot after the first ST.

(I'm aware the rules are different in the USA, but this is Bristol, not Tulsa).

I'm not entirely stuck in the past here — I write NATO rather N.A.T.O., for example; but still, there's a difference between making a conscious decision to drop the dots between acronyms and inserting dots out of ignorance.

I was taught this distinction by Simon Dally, by the way, who was a book editor in his life prior to MUSE Ltd., so that's why I hold to it. Other ways of doing it might be "right", but this way is very right...

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Copyright © 2009 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).