A missing apostrophe has stirred up a hornet’s nest at Ernakulam Maharaja’s College.

An apostrophe has gone missing from the newly-constructed name board of the college, located at the main entrance of the institution. The crucial miss, which might have occurred while engraving the name, has triggered a deluge of protests from teachers, students and alumni of the college.

At the same time, the faculty of the college is divided over the punctuation mark, which is used to indicate the possession of a thing or person to someone or something. Predictably, majority of the faculty members of the English Department of the College, who are sticklers for English grammar, argued that the name should carry the punctuation mark. They vehemently argued that the punctuation mark should firmly be there to indicate that the college belonged to the erstwhile Maharaja of Kochi.

J. Vijayamohan, Head of the English Department, who vociferously defended the use of apostrophe, felt that the missing punctuation might be the influence of SMS language in English. The influence of SMS culture can even be found in Ph.D thesis, he said.

The name of University College and Women’s College of Thiruvananthapuram are Maharaja’s University College and Her Highness Maharaja’s Women’s College. The name is engraved with an apostrophe at the eastern side entrance of the Ernakulam College. The name is written with the punctuation mark in the early documents of the college too, argued Prof. Vijayamohan. Supporting his arguments, N.K. Vijayan of the department felt that one cannot fiddle with the name of an educational institution which has a legacy of 140 years behind it. “An apostrophe means a lot when it comes to the name of the college. Such mistakes should not be allowed to be perpetuated,” he said.

Even some of the students of the college have started writing the name of the institution without the crucial punctuation. The authorities should have discussed the issue with those who are teaching or handling English before engraving the name of the college in a wrong way, said Prof. Vijayan.

Incidentally, all the earlier markings of the name of the college in the original structure, centenary auditorium and a day care centre supported by the University Grants Commission have the apostrophe.

Meanwhile, striking a different note, K.G. Ramadas, a faculty of the Sanskrit Department of the College, said there was no need for an apostrophe in the name of the college. The name “Maharajas College” should be treated a as noun these days. Such a suggestion came up from one of the former district collectors of Ernakulam. It was some sticklers of English grammar who were arguing for the apostrophe, he said.

Mary Matilda, principal of the college, said that the “human error” in missing out the punctuation would be corrected when the name of the college was marked in chromium plates. There was no controversy over the punctuation mark and the mistake could be corrected, if required, she said.