Remember when we talked about using apostrophes for indicating possession? Well, here’s an interesting tidbit.
The United States Board on Geographic Names has a long-standing policy to discourage the use of apostrophes in place names. In 1894, they eliminated 1,665 apostrophes across the country, to widespread shock and dismay, I’m sure.
But then, there’s Martha’s Vineyard. One of my very favorite places. For those who don’t know, it’s an island just south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, and one with unusual strength of character (if an island can be said to have character). It is, for example, one of the few tourist spots that has successfully fought off the advances of McDonalds. Or Starbucks. Or just about any hotel chain you can mention. And, well, it didn’t take kindly to having its apostrophe taken away.
So, in 1933, the Vineyard fought back. And won.
It’s only one of five places in the United States that has won approval to have an official apostrophe in its name. (We’re talking geography here, of course, not things like stores or houses.) Five places in the entire country. See? I knew the island was special.
The irony? Now that we are firmly in the internet age, you’ll get fewer Google hits if you use the apostrophe. (Still 2,400,000 of them, which isn’t really small change, but something like 500,000 more if you leave out the apostrophe.)
If you’d like to read more about this, there’s a great article right here, If only Martha Knew the Power she Possessed. Very interesting! (Thanks, Mom, for the link.) And it will give you all something to think about while I’m at the Martha’s Vineyard Fiber Festival this weekend.
*(And, I was so tempted to put “Who’s Vineyard” in the title to mimic the “Martha’s Vineyard” construction but was afraid it would be taken as if I meant it seriously rather than a joke and decided not to risk it!)