Re: "his"

Subject: Re: "his"
From: Stephen Victor <svictor -at- LGC -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 26 Jun 1996 14:26:01 -0500

Richard Mateosian wrote:

> Of course, they don't use the apostrophe in German plurals, so this doesn't
> really disprove the myth of "Mark, his email" evolving into Mark's email.

> And in German it could equally plausibly have evolved from "Mark, sein
> email" to Marks email.

> I don't have any idea if it's true, but I think you can use the example to
> argue either side of the issue. ...RM

One could come up with all sorts of spurious examples to extend this
tedious thread even further. However, the fact of the matter is that
Middle English (like its Germanic ancestor) formed possessives by adding
"es" to the word (e.g., Wyfe of Bathes Tale). The extra syllable was
spoken (Bath-es, with the e being a schwa, which I can't reproduce
here). As the language developed, the extra syllable was dropped, but
the s was retained. The apostrophe is a small reminder of the missing e.

Stephen P. Victor svictor -at- lgc -dot- com
Landmark Graphics Corporation svictor -at- compassnet -dot- com
15150 Memorial Drive
Houston, TX 77079 USA De gustibus non disputandum est

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