[NTLK] [OT} Re: 20 MB memory cards FAQ

Lord Groundhog lordgroundhog at gmail.com
Mon Dec 3 14:53:38 EST 2012

~~~ On 2012/12/03 16:26, Dennis Swaney at romad at aol.com wrote ~~~

> I was taught that an 's at the end of a noun was possessive, meaning
> "belonging to". The main exception is that "it's" is a contraction not a
> possessive; "its" is the possessive form for it. Additionally, if the
> possessor noun ends with an "s" then only the apostrophe is added at the
> end as with my name: Dennis', not, Dennis's. Of course this was 50 years
> ago, and with the continual dumbing down of our public schools in these
> United States, it may no longer be taught.


You and I seem to be from the same era and same stable of English grammar
teaching.  "Dennis's" and similar would have lost a mark.

Should I hazard a guess that at least some of your English teachers also
used the original _Warriner's English Grammar and Composition_ series?  We
used the full series from Grade 1 through 8, and I have to admit I enjoyed

Why the Chicago Manual of Style accepts this, I can only guess is related to
the move from "prescriptive" to "descriptive" grammar, a move that
increasingly is eroding attempts to maintain standards of spelling, grammar
and syntax.  

Incidentally, this move is a disease that afflicts British usage too.  Time
was, British language usage followed Fowler's _The King's English_ and his
_Modern English Usage_, in tandem with the Oxford English Dictionary.
Among other things, Fowler's (and the OED) pointed out (correctly) that when
verbs ending in "-ize" have been formed by using the Greek suffix "-izo" for
creating that kind of verb, it should not be rendered as "-ise".  (Words
ending in "-yse" are a different category, and the "z" is incorrect.)

When I first came to the UK quite a number of years ago, this distinction
was still recognized in academic circles and by the better quality of
publications generally.  Now, there seems to be no standard.  Even in
academic publications one can find "-ise" being used to spell verbs that are
formed by using the Greek suffix.  The worst is when a publication doesn't
even maintain internal consistency.  Either the editorial policy or the
proof-reading (or both?) show signs collapsing even in many of the better

>From this, we can go on to see all kinds of other deterioration:  incorrect
use of the apostrophe more generally (no, "banana's" is NOT the plural of
"banana"!), failure to use the objective form of personal pronouns, failure
to distinguish and use homonyms correctly, and disregard for agreement of
subject and verb all abound.  My English teachers doubtless are all spinning
in their graves.  

Plainly Dennis, the world is going to hell in a hand-basket.



~~~ ~~~ ~~~

*The Destruction Of Life As We Know It*
    might not be as relevant to Newtons
        as poutine.
               -- Lord Groundhog

(With thanks to Chod Lang)

~~~ ~~~ ~~~
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