Re: Unprofessional possessive

Subject: Re: Unprofessional possessive
From: "Mark L. Levinson" <nosnivel -at- netvision -dot- net -dot- il>
To: TechWr-L <TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 01 Dec 1999 01:14:50 +0200

There never was a time when instead of saying things like
"Halley's Comet" and "Duffy's Tavern" people said things
like "Halley his Comet" and "Duffy his Tavern." But at
one time people believed that the language had such a

At that time of misunderstanding, a couple of centuries
ago, the idea was that since the possessive apostrophe-s
is a contraction of "his", it belongs properly only to
people. (Even back then, a couple of centuries ago,
women were allowed to own at least small objects,
but it seems that nobody ever wondered why if we say
"John's anvil" we don't say "Jane'r bobbin.")

Being by now discredited, the notion that the apostrophe-s
stands for "his" should have no influence on our writing,
and there is no reason whatsoever to refrain from attaching
the apostrophe-s to inanimate objects such as works of
nature, manufactured goods, and Madeleine Albright.

Mark L. Levinson - nosnivel -at- netvision -dot- net -dot- il

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