Apostrophe, or not?

I don't think this is correct: "the world’s second oldest profession..." I think it should be "The worlds oldest profession..." Ditto for "the water’s movement..." It should be "the waters movement..."

I'm also curious why no one has mentioned such terms as "it's", a contraction for "it is" ...and others like it.

Baron Max

You're right.

All you have to do is substitute 's for is and if it fits, it's right.
 
Apostrophes are so messy. Why the fuck does English even use them outside of the realm of omitted letters? I would say we revive the Old English noun paradigms that allowed us to make the possessive form of a word without an apostrophe. But I know a lot of people would disagree with me. :p

I don't think this is correct: "the world’s second oldest profession..." I think it should be "The worlds oldest profession..." Ditto for "the water’s movement..." It should be "the waters movement..."

No. It's "the second oldest profession of the world". Thus, "the world's...". "Worlds" is invariably "more than one world". In any case, "the worlds oldest profession" is wrong no matter how you try to think about it. All this is also true with "the waters movement".

Baron Max said:
I'm also curious why no one has mentioned such terms as "it's", a contraction for "it is" ...and others like it.

We were waiting for you.

"the worlds oldest profession" implies more than one world.

Not to mention it's impossible to say "More than one world oldest profession".
 
No. It's "the second oldest profession of the world". Thus, "the world's...". "Worlds" is invariably "more than one world". In any case, "the worlds oldest profession" is wrong no matter how you try to think about it. All this is also true with "the waters movement".

Well, I'm confused. Because the 's implies possessive qualities of the object. As I recall, inanimate objects such as "the world" or "the trees" can't possess anything. Do you happen to have info on that issue? My old, old dictionary says that it's "...the worlds second oldest profession" I.e, without an apostrophe.

Baron Max
 
Well, I'm confused. Because the 's implies possessive qualities of the object. As I recall, inanimate objects such as "the world" or "the trees" can't possess anything.

I understand how you think of the so-called possessive case. But it's just a naming convention. "X's" is another way of saying "of x". It can mean that something possesses something else, but not necessarily. This case mainly represents a particular relationship between two things, as all cases do. A tree "owns" its leaf in the same way you "own" your foot. All the possessive case says is that the foot is of you, and that the leaf is of the tree.

Baron Max said:
Do you happen to have info on that issue? My old, old dictionary says that it's "...the worlds second oldest profession" I.e, without an apostrophe.

I can ask my writing instructor at college for clarification if you wish.

I'm curious about what your dictionary is. Like, the title, the publisher, when it was published, etc. Do you have a digital camera? If so, can you take a picture of the specific passage or page that tells you "worlds" is the proper possessive form?
 
Seems it's nto quite so cut and dry as that, Fraggle... Perhaps the newspapers started using this 20 years ago, because children were taught this 35 years ago.
OK, I should have said, "Check any widely respected style manual in your country." In the USA that would be the MLA or Strunk & White, period. I am a professional editor these days so it's my business to know this stuff.

Forget the newspapers' manuals, no matter how many magazines may use them. Most of them have foresworn the atrocity of "Mr. Gomez' sombrero," but not all. Many executive editors might still overrule their line editors and allow the omission of few instances of S to shorten an article and leave twelve more points of space for a paid advertisement.

As for universities, considering the quality of their latest crop of graduates, who on the average read and write at what my generation regards as the sixth-grade level, I'm not sure I'd trust the standards of any of lesser stature than Stanford and Caltech. When my wife wrote her master's thesis in 1987 on Gabriel García Márquez, she had to fight with her department head to be allowed to write "Márquez's" correctly.

And I don't pretend to speak for other Anglophone countries. I would bet that the Canadians take Strunk and White as a package deal with Big Macs and Desperate Housewives, but I don't really know that for sure, since they adhere to a few relics of British usage such as "zed" and "theatre." The USA and the UK make it a point of honor to disagree over linguistic matters whenever possible, and I don't see enough writing from the Antipodes and the semi-anglophone countries like South Africa to hazard a guess as to their practices.

I humbly submit to Wikipedia's wisdom on a few universal exceptions that I simply overlooked, such as "for goodness' sake" and "Jesus'." But those are indeed exceptions and rare ones. The general rules as I stated in my original post should be followed unless a respected authority in your own country tells you otherwise.
(Grammar rules DO change sometimes in an evolving language, as you well know better than most).
Yes, grammar rules change because they reflect the spoken language, which until a century ago was totally ephemeral. But the rules of written languages change much more slowly for the obvious reason that the writings of our ancestors are still widely read and exert a conservative influence. Inconsistent spelling and punctuation make for difficult reading.

Look at the saga of the serial comma. (The second one in "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.") I believe it started falling out of favor in the 1940s or maybe even the 1930s, perhaps as a miniscule effort to conserve newsprint just like "Mr. Jones' hat." I think it began infiltrating the style manuals in the 1960s, about the same time New Math began destroying the numeracy of a generation of children. I don't know what sparked the counterrevolution but the example I always see is the book dedication: "To my parents, Ayn Rand and God."

Today's documents full of technical jargon, such as the ones I edit, would be illegible without the serial comma. So it is now optional, but only if the writer is positive its omission will cause no misunderstanding. I predict that in another generation it won't be optional any more and its absence will be a historical curiosity from the same era as the hula hoop and missile-shaped auto bumpers.
 
athelwulf said:
Apostrophes are so messy. Why the fuck does English even use them outside of the realm of omitted letters?
If you want, you can view every use of them as in the realm of omitted letters.

The possessive could be spelled "My fatheres son" instead of "My father's son", or "Gomezes book" instead of "Gomez's book". By convention (in that view) we omit the vowel and mark its (its) place, as a guide to meaning and pronunciation.
 
If you're looking for an excuse to criticize English spelling and orthography, you hardly need to pick on the apostrophe! To my limited knowledge, among languages with allegedly phonetic alphabets, English spelling is second only to French for not really being phonetic. It's hard to believe that there was a concerted effort to normalize it around seven or eight hundred years ago. I can't imagine what it looked like before then.
 
Baron,
The tree's leaves. Trees can possess leaves, roots, branches (not legally, though).
 
raven said:
In what language?
In a more phonetically, but less informatively, spelled English.

fraggle said:
To my limited knowledge, among languages with allegedly phonetic alphabets, English spelling is second only to French for not really being phonetic.
Didn't lot of that come from borrowing French, anyway?
fraggle said:
It's hard to believe that there was a concerted effort to normalize it around seven or eight hundred years ago. I can't imagine what it looked like before then.
It probably looked as it was pronounced, reflecting the various pronunciations - the normalization was also a normalization of pronunciation, choosing from various dialects, no?

I've always had the impression, from somewhere (Middle English poetry, with its enforced pronunciations ?) that our odd spelling now usually marks former pronunciations, except in the borrowed French (where it marks borrowed French). Is that so?

I do think the spelling carries a tone or feel with it, that improves the written word's evocation of the sound of the language and thereby the meaning of the prose. It doesn't seem worthless, to me.
 
all of your grammatical efforts are inferior to me. peace,
Uh... back atcha. I can't even understand that sentence! :)
Baron, The tree's leaves. Trees can possess leaves, roots, branches (not legally, though).
When we refer to English we have a habit of saying "the posessive case," instead of "the genitive case" which we would use in reference to most other languages. It's a poor choice of words. We're talking about a logical relation, not physical possession. The object's mass, the year's end, the vehicle's speed... Or how about, "the possession's owner?" :)
Didn't lot of that come from borrowing French, anyway?
A lot of the confusion certainly comes from French borrowings. What few, loose rules there are for figuring out how to pronounce a written English word are somewhat different for words of French origin rather than Anglo-Saxon.
It probably looked as it was pronounced, reflecting the various pronunciations - the normalization was also a normalization of pronunciation, choosing from various dialects, no?
Yes, as I understand it it was something like that. During the two or three centuries after the Norman invasion while French was the official language, no one region was regarded as the authority for a "standard" dialect of English. The region whose pronunciation of any given word was most common was an accident of commerce and other forces.

At some point English reascended, even though there has been no substantive discontinuity in civil government between 1066 and 2007. That must have been a fascinating phenomenon, does anybody know anything about it?
I've always had the impression, from somewhere (Middle English poetry, with its enforced pronunciations ?) that our odd spelling now usually marks former pronunciations, except in the borrowed French (where it marks borrowed French). Is that so?
Basically, except that since words were taken from various dialects, the relationship between spelling and original pronunciation was not consistent.
I do think the spelling carries a tone or feel with it, that improves the written word's evocation of the sound of the language and thereby the meaning of the prose. It doesn't seem worthless, to me.
I bet you just love Chinese. :)
No, you skipped the Middle English of the early 2nd millennium and went directly to Old English, or Ango-Saxon as it's now usually called. That language is relatively pure Germanic with more inflections and without all the French borrowings. English underwent a wrenching discontinuity after the Norman invasion since the invaders brought a whole new culture with them including new ways of thinking about the universe and the words that went with it. English grammar and phonetics changed drastically and relatively quickly after 1066. The Canterbury Tales are written in Middle English, which resembles Modern English more than German.
 
"Uh... back atcha. I can't even understand that sentence!"


because your miniscule mind cant comprehend my greatness.


yeah my grammer sucks balls but im happy.

peace.
 
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