The 2-page handout

The reading

A defender of the use of the apostrophe has quit his decades-long battle for the correct use of the punctuation mark. John Richards, 96, was chairman of the Apostrophe Protection Society, which was established in 2001 to campaign to encourage better writing and understanding of the purpose of the apostrophe. Mr Richards wrote on the society's website: "Fewer organisations and individuals are now caring about the correct use of the apostrophe in the English language. We, and our many supporters worldwide, have done our best but the ignorance and laziness present in modern times have won." He added: "Over the years we have heard from thousands of supporters all over the world...but the barbarians have won."

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Mr Richards started the society after seeing the "same mistakes over and over again". He wanted to highlight people's mistakes and get people to end the misuse of the apostrophe. He said he hoped half a dozen people would join him in his quest, but was heartened by the support he received worldwide. He received 500 letters from all over the world within a month of starting the website. Mr Richards' biggest beef was not people misusing the apostrophe, but people not using it at all. He called out big companies for this. In the UK, companies like Lloyds Bank and the bookstore Waterstones dispensed with the apostrophe in their names. Maybe Mr Richards was happy with the burger chain McDonald's.



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