Re: Unprofessional possessive

Subject: Re: Unprofessional possessive
From: "Dick Margulis" <margulis -at- mail -dot- fiam -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com, HalterMC -at- navair -dot- navy -dot- mil
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 99 12:06:12 -0500


The possessive case is acceptable in even the most formal diction. There are situations, however, where it is best avoided.

For example, there has been a trend in medicine (and similar trends in some specific scientific fields) to remove the possessive from specific eponyms: doctors write about Down syndrome, not Down's syndrome, etc.

In addition, and more broadly, many careful writers avoid applying the possessive case to inanimate objects, although in the more informal tone adopted in much technical writing, this does not generally apply. So, formally, "the front panel of the printer"; informally, "the printer's front panel"; somewhere in between, "the printer front panel".

But the pilot is animate and capable of possessing a head, a helmet, even a thought. So the possessive is standard usage in that instance.


---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: "Halter, Meg" <HalterMC -at- navair -dot- navy -dot- mil>

>Hello all --

A question has come up concerning the use of the possessive in technical
reports. The author maintains that it's unprofessional to use the
possessive. So instead of writing "the pilot's head" we should write "the
pilot head". The second sounds like pidgin to me. (Me take pilot head and
bash with rock.)

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