The missing apostrophe

I wish Lynne Truss spent a few days in Chennai. On second thoughts, for her sake, perhaps not.
You see, the stickler she is for punctuation, Lynne would suffer an apoplexy in Chennai. Apostrophes and commas and full-stops get the boot in this fair city, mutilating street names, area names and more. So much so, the original names are but ghosts, and not so potent ones either.

One of my favourite mutilations involves the originally Irish Græme’s Road. Perhaps because Græme had a name difficult for the Tamil tongue, or perhaps due to other reasons, the road became Graeme’s Road. But that too, didn’t last. Graeme’s became Greame’s became Greames Road, the apostrophe butchered in the altar of change.

Every body knows of the original Parry’s Corner. Marking one end of the old town, with the imposing Dare House as its offices, Parry and Company made industry in Madras. It was only natural, then, that their corner bears their name. But, over the years, Parry’s Corner became Parrys Corner became Parrys became outdated.

Poor little apostrophe. Her adventures in Madras hasn’t ended yet.

Not far from Parry’s Corner, in Kilpauk, is a little alcove. Here was Kelly’s place. (Note the past tense). I know not who Kelly was. Perhaps a lieutenant in the Madras army (Lieutenant Kelly does have a nice ring to it), he must have built himself a fairly large house in Kilpauk (which is not very far from the Perambur Barracks and the Fort)
Now, Kelly’s place was assimilated into modern Madras, but not its apostrophe. For Kelly’s became Kellys. (And sometimes, even Kellies)

I am sure, if I dig a little deeper, I will find many more mutilations. But then, it doesn’t make much of a difference to the city. People still find their ways around, newer localities give the older ones some stiff competition, and new ways of mutilating names are discovered.

Its – oops – It’s all in Chennai.

3 Comments so far

  1. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on August 28th, 2006 @ 1:49 pm

    In terms of it’s pronounciation, Parry’s has gone one step even further and become Paris!

    Another victim of your morphing apostophe is Poe. His garden has quite lost any resemblance to his name (who was he?) and become po-es garden.

    An interesting example of road name evolution in action (but no apostrophe, so somewhat off-topic) is Brick Kiln Road. Here can be seen, side by side, shops whose notice boards give addresses variously as Brick Kiln road or Bricklin Road. One day people will be asking who Mr Bricklin was!


  2. Chenthil (unregistered) on August 28th, 2006 @ 4:12 pm

    Mowbray’s Road to Moubarees Road. Thankfully the Government changed it to TTK Road.

    Yeldham’s Road to Eldams Road

    Chamier’s Road to Chamiers Road to Pasumpon Muthuramnalinga Thevar Salai.

    And ofcourse Mr. Muthiah’s favorite Popham’s Broadway that simply became Broadway.


  3. Elizabeth Bennett (unregistered) on August 30th, 2006 @ 3:53 pm

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