RE: Unprofessional possessive

Subject: RE: Unprofessional possessive
From: Hal Wrobel <hwrobel -at- toptier -dot- com>
To: "'McClare, Scott'" <smcclare -at- neptec -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 1999 22:27:38 -0800

Good day everyone,

Avoiding the possessive form in technical writing has been recommended in
recent years particularly where internationalization and translation issues
are involved. English is the only language that uses the apostrophe + "s" to
express possession and internationalization issues are almost everywhere in
hi-tech these days.
I find I'm able to avoid this form of the possessive without loss of
clarity, perhaps even with added clarity.

Hal Wrobel
TopTier Israel

> 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.)
>
> Me hope for you comments.

This nonsense. 8-)

There's nothing wrong with the possessive in technical writing. It
indicates ownership or other similar close relationships; that's
what it's
for. Your author has turned the noun "pilot" into an adjective and
therefore changed the relationship between the pilot and the head.
It's
like the difference between "the blue sky," which describes the sky
as blue,
and "the blue's sky," which means nothing.

It might be argued that it's preferable to use "the head of the
pilot"
rather than "the pilot's head," but that's just a change in wording,
not a
change in case.

Take care,

Scott
--
Scott A. McClare - Technical Writer
Neptec Design Group Ltd., Kanata, Ontario, Canada
(613) 599-7603 x504
smcclare -at- neptec -dot- com

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