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Apostrophe again, sorry. Login/Join
 
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My daughter wants me to give them a break because "they do put a newspaper out everyday." Oh, okay, I will!

We think they meant "failure." My daughter says it was a "spelling error, not a grammatical error." She loves her NY Times! Big Grin
 
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another case of leaders' failing to lead by example is fine, but the apostrophe-less form another case of leaders failing to lead by example is equally good. In the plural the accusative and genitive are alike.

Try it with a plural word where they differ: another case of men failing to lead by example and another case of men's failing to lead by example are both acceptable to me, though there's more clearly some kind of register or style difference here. The genitive subject is more old-fashioned, I think, so there could well be people whose dialects don't allow it.

And why do I call the non-genitive case the accusative here? Because it is in pronouns: you can say me failing to lead or my failing to lead but not *I failing to lead.

Interestingly, not only is there a noun failure, which like all nouns can only have a genitive subject (my failure not *I failure or *me failure [unless you pronounce unstressed my as me, in which case they merge]), but there is also a noun failing distinct from the gerund, and this noun can only take the genitive: my failing was to trust too much in..., not *me failing was to...
 
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Quote "...My daughter wants me to give them a break because "they do put a newspaper out everyday." Oh, okay, I will! ..."

Really? Let's not be too beastly about the pilot who crashes his 'plane - after all, he has to land aeroplanes several times EVERY day!

It's the job of journalists to write copy accurately - as it is the job of the pilot to fly a 'plane properly. Or the surgeon to operate efficiently.

I'm sorry, right is right but alright is not alright - and good enough is no good at all!


Richard English
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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My reading is that there's a question of number in "leader." If singular, there's an error; if plural, it's correct.
 
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Okay, so it sounds like it could be correct or not, depending. I did not take "failing" as a gerund, Richard. I read it as "failing to," the verb. The subject was the plural of leader, or "leaders." Surely in that case the apostrophe is wrong.

I wondered if some would see "failing" as a gerund, though to me that sounds awkward.

I will give my daughter the good news...and I will have to stop gloating!

Yes, Richard, I agree with you that newspapers should just be good enough. Oh, how I agree with you on that!

Asa, the "leader" was plural, so you apparently agree with Richard on this.
 
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Reviving a thread

We have over 300 posts here discussing apostrophes, so it wasn't hard finding a thread to revive.

I am at a conference in the south, and the people here tell me that the south is more "apostrophe-challenged" than the rest of the U.S., though I assume that's not really true. However, they gave me some funny examples:

In a parking lot: Van's Only!

In a department store gift-wrapping department: Box's Here!

They then told me of a sign that said:

" Too blocks to the Parking Facility" Big Grin
 
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Reviving a thread...
Over the years I have learned that most forums have ongoing subjects or themes that get brought up from time to time. I cannot tell you how many threads on OEDILF address meter and rhyming, for example. Or, how they are going to get all those limericks approved.

What are some of ours? Certainly mistakes in the OED. Also, "epicaricacy" vs. "Schadenfreude." And, of course, "apostrophes!" What are others you can think of?

So...back to the title of this thread: apostrophes. I just knew some of you (particularly Richard!) would love today's Chicago Tribune: "...installed on the City Council to do his boss' bidding." Wink
 
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Why don't you write to them and ask them how they pronounce the word "boss'". If, as I strongly suppect, they ponounce it "bossez", then ask them why they don't spell it "boss's" - as they should? Are they short of esses or something?


Richard English
 
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boss' bidding
I think I've mellowed over the years. Contact with people here and on the APS board (where, not surprisingly, apostrophe use is frequently discussed) has made me realise that a sizeable proportion of people uses the apostrophe in this way. I don't think it can be described as 'wrong'; simply as a different style to the one I use.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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boss'

There's an older usage in the States that the singular possessive of boss is boss' and the plural possessive is bosses'. It's what I learned in school, and it's rather hard to unlearn at this time. Some newspapers in the US may still adhere to this older style. You might ask them at the Trib. And, BTW, it's different, not wrong.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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I still use the old style, and don't want to change.
 
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quote:
There's an older usage in the States that the singular possessive of boss is boss'

And they pronounce it...?


Richard English
 
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quote:
today's Chicago Tribune

quote:
Are they short of esses or something?


Actually, the Tribune Corporation is so cheap that they don't want to have to pay for more letters than absolutely necessary.

Is "short of esses" vernacular? I would always say "short on esses".
 
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'Short on' sounds highly dialectal to me, and I'd always say 'short of'.

I can never work out what people are thinking when they write boss'. Do they say it as one syllable /bos/, or do they say it as I'd expect, /'bosəz/, but have a writing rule that overrides what they say? It's different from Jones', Jones's, where I'm surely people can say it either of two ways.
 
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I am sure they are saying it as "bosses," but as Asa and Zmj posted, we were taught to write "boss'" here in the states. Things have changed since then and many of us aren't use to the change. It took my daughter's law school professor's criticism of her statement, "In Charles' case" that caused me to ask about it on Wordcraft. That's when I heard Richard's point of view about how it is said. That makes a lot of sense, and now I always write "boss's."

I do understand, Zmj and Arnie, that it's not wrong, just a different style. The other way just makes more sense.
 
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I pronounce boss /'bOs/ and boss' /'bOsIz/, but what does that have to do with anything? English orthography is a much too slippery slope to try to navigate. Even Truss mentions this style/usage in her Eats, Shoots & Leaves.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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English spelling is not, of course, phonetic and that would be a perfect defence for "boss'" were it not for one fact.

The Americans, far more than the English, have made many changes to go from non-phonetic to phonetic pronunciation (programme to program, colour to color) and I can see the logic. But I can conceive of no reasons whatsoever why they should choose to change a perfectly good phonetic construction to a very dodgy non-phonetic one - other than as a result of a mistake.


Richard English
 
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This isn't a new change for the Americans. It's the older usage. Most style guides these days prefer boss's. I don't. I use it if it's stipulated by a company's style guide. Just call me old fashioned. And besides whatever has reason to do with language?


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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I think grammar is related to language. But, call me old-fashioned, too! Wink

This post was more a musing about subjects we have discussed here than about "What should we do?" I think we already have said about all we could on this subject. Perhaps I shouldn't have brought it up again. Sorry.
 
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Reviving a thread...

Yep...apostrophe time!

There is a section on Language Tips in the Illinois Bar News that a friend who knows that I am a linguaphile sends me. In this issue there was quite the discussion on apostrophes, such as should it be states' attorneys or state's attorneys.

However, I thought the following interesting:

Some grammarians consider that, "He is a friend of my brother's" carries the implication that "my brother" has other friends, so the statement is synonymous with, "He is among my brother's friends." The same grammarians suggest that, "He is a friend of my brother," carries no such implication. Do you agree with the grammarians? The author of the column doesn't and thinks you can use either "friend of my brother" or "friend of my brother's."

However, in this instance, the author sees a distinction:

"Here is my brother's painting," and "Here is a painting of my brother." The first statement implies that the brother possesses the painting, while the second implies that the painting is of the brother. Then he asks what if the brother is the painter? Then...the statement "This painting is my brother's" is ambiguous. He could be the painter or the possessor, but not the subject of the painting. This distinction is true of any producer/owner statement, apparently, such as "This is my book." Thoughts?
 
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If he were your brother's only friend he'd be "the friend of my brother's", or "the friend of my brother". "A friend" implies that there are more than one.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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I have refrained from joining this enlightening discussion, largely because there are few absolute rights and wrongs in apostrophe use: most are well ventilated here and elsewhere. But, I do draw the line at : ' "He is a friend of my brother's" carries the implication that "my brother" has other friends.' If there is a comma, full stop or semicolon after brother's the clause is meaningless since the apostrophe makes it possessive and no object of possession is indicated. It is not synonymous with, "He is among my brother's friends." If there is no punctuation stop after brother's, the clause is incomplete and again without meaning.
 
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"I met John yesterday afternoon. He is a friend of my brother's." The second sentence has meaning for me. It means that John and my brother are friends. OTOH, I couldn't say: "I met John yesterday afternoon. *He is the (only) friend of my brother's." I would say: "I met John yesterday afternoon. He is my brother's (only) friend."


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Zmj, I might in a careless moment say, but I couldn't write: "I met John yesterday afternoon. He is a friend of my brother's."
You would have to write "I met John yesterday afternoon. He is a friend of my brother." I suspect the wording makes you too uncomfortable since you rephrase it correctly: I would say: "I met John yesterday afternoon. He is my brother's (only) friend."
 
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It is nice to disagree so pleasantly. I was not clear. "I met John yesterday afternoon. He is a friend of my brother's." is perfectly grammatical in spoken, informal English for me. It does not have the same meaning as "I met John yesterday afternoon. He is my brother's only friend." In other words, "a friend of my brother's" does not imply "my brother's only friend".


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Reviving a thread...
I just had to post this entry from Language Log about the possessive of Arkansas. Their Representative Steve Harrelson has filed a motion to declare the correct possessive form of the state to be Arkansas's. Richard, I definitely think you should move to Arkansas! Wink
 
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I have seen the name of the State sometimes rendered as "Arkansaw", I am sure. That would solve and possessive issues since all would use "Arkansaw's" without demur (which is, of course, the way that "Arkansas's" is pronounced".


Richard English
 
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Unless my midwest twang is interfering, we all pronounce it ARK-an saw; the end s is silent.
 
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the end s is silent.

Yes, Kansas and Arkansas do not rhyme.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Unless my midwest twang is interfering, we all pronounce it ARK-an saw; the end s is silent.

It's more than simply silent - it does duty as a "w". Presumably "Arkansaw" was the original pronunciation when the State was named - though why it took the spelling it has I have no idea.

Mind you, we shouldn't be that surprised considering the eccentricity of some UK place-name spellings.


Richard English
 
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According to wikipedia, Arkansas is a French spelling of a Native American (Illinois) word. This would explain the "silent s".
 
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The Wikipedia article links to this posting on the American Dialect Society Mailing List. Phonetically, there is no w at end of the word. It's usually pronounced as an open back unrounded vowel /ɑː/ or an open-mid back rounded vowel /ɔː/. Nobody should be surprised at the arbitrary vagaries of English orthography. Pronunciation—especially of proper names and placenames—cannot be predicted from the spelling of the word. Interesting about the etymology of Ozark from aux Ark(s).

[Corrected misspelling.]

This message has been edited. Last edited by: zmježd,


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Phonetically, there is no w at end of the word.

There might be a US/UK difference here. In the UK "aw" words rhyme with "or" words and in neither case is the final consonant sounded in any way - although it does modify the preceding vowel


Richard English
 
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This may not relate totally to this thread but it seems like the closest in topic.

A recent newspaper column mentioned mistakes in material related to the upcoming holiday. One bad fail was the sign on a store window that said:
CLOSED FOR THANK'SGIVING

A high schoolk posted a notice on its billboard:

CLOSED FOR HOLIDAY BRAKE

Probably the most expenive mistake involves Trader Joe's. For their holiday promotions, they printed hundreds of thousands of items with various seasonal greetings. One said, "Happy Tnanksgiving". Another "Seasn's Greetings." But the third, which featured a picture of a turkey, was to have said "Gobble, Gobble." Unfortunately someone didn't proofread the copy and the entire printing said, "Gooble, Gooble".

I won't make such an error when I wish everyone a "Hoppy Haliday."


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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It never fails to amaze me that companies spend thousands of pounds on materials design, thousands on printing and thousands on distribution - yet fail to spend less than a hundred quid on proofing.


Richard English
 
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quote:
Originally posted by pauld:
I'm trying to edit the Wikipedia entry on the apostrophe, and am having a bit of a to-do with a (British) Wikipedian about this line:

quote:
In U.S. usage, if a singular noun already ends with an s, the extra s is again dropped: Jesus' parables. British usage would have Jesus's parables.


He's actually disputing the British usage, but we can sort that out between us! It's made me wonder about the American usage, though, so could I ask some questions?

Bus' engine or bus's engine
Boss' payrise or boss's payrise
Witness' reaction or witness's reaction
Charles' car or Charles's car
Moses' tablets or Moses's tablets
The circus' clown or the circus's clown
Ass' ears or ass's ears

And how definite would you say the rule is (whatever it is) in good American writing?

Also (just out of curiosity) how would you say Charles' - "Charles" or "Charlziz"?


May I reply? In American usage, Strunk and White, it's clear. Great figures don't get an 's. It's Jesus' sermon, Moses' sword. If a name is very long or has many sss in it, it gets no 's. If it's a simple name, such as Jones, then it does, such as Jones's car.... It's definitive. The New York Time follows this rule. Many, maybe most do not.


something essential
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Proofreader:
This may not relate totally to this thread but it seems like the closest in topic.

A recent newspaper column mentioned mistakes in material related to the upcoming holiday. One bad fail was the sign on a store window that said:
CLOSED FOR THANK'SGIVING

A high schoolk posted a notice on its billboard:

CLOSED FOR HOLIDAY BRAKE

Probably the most expenive mistake involves Trader Joe's. For their holiday promotions, they printed hundreds of thousands of items with various seasonal greetings. One said, "Happy Tnanksgiving". Another "Seasn's Greetings." But the third, which featured a picture of a turkey, was to have said "Gobble, Gobble." Unfortunately someone didn't proofread the copy and the entire printing said, "Gooble, Gooble".

I won't make such an error when I wish everyone a "Hoppy Haliday."


Curious, Proofreader, why you chose to spell "knowledge" as "knowlage." I'm sure there's a reason. Perhaps you think there is no power.


something essential
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Bridg2Peace:
quote:
Originally posted by Proofreader:
This may not relate totally to this thread but it seems like the closest in topic.

A recent newspaper column mentioned mistakes in material related to the upcoming holiday. One bad fail was the sign on a store window that said:
On this store-spelling subject, it's amazing how many flower shops in Los Angeles sell "bokays" of flowers.
CLOSED FOR THANK'SGIVING

A high schoolk posted a notice on its billboard:

CLOSED FOR HOLIDAY BRAKE

Probably the most expenive mistake involves Trader Joe's. For their holiday promotions, they printed hundreds of thousands of items with various seasonal greetings. One said, "Happy Tnanksgiving". Another "Seasn's Greetings." But the third, which featured a picture of a turkey, was to have said "Gobble, Gobble." Unfortunately someone didn't proofread the copy and the entire printing said, "Gooble, Gooble".

I won't make such an error when I wish everyone a "Hoppy Haliday."


Curious, Proofreader, why you chose to spell "knowledge" as "knowlage." I'm sure there's a reason. Perhaps you think there is no power.


something essential
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Bridg2Peace:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Proofreader:
This may not relate totally to this thread but it seems like the closest in topic.

A recent newspaper column mentioned mistakes in material related to the upcoming holiday. One bad fail was the sign on a store window that said:
CLOSED FOR THANK'SGIVING

A high schoolk posted a notice on its billboard:

CLOSED FOR HOLIDAY BRAKE

Probably the most expenive mistake involves Trader Joe's. For their holiday promotions, they printed hundreds of thousands of items with various seasonal greetings. One said, "Happy Tnanksgiving". Another "Seasn's Greetings." But the third, which featured a picture of a turkey, was to have said "Gobble, Gobble." Unfortunately someone didn't proofread the copy and the entire printing said, "Gooble, Gooble".

I won't make such an error when I wish everyone a "Hoppy Haliday."


My reply to this was that in L.A., I was shocked to see how many florists advertised "bokays."


something essential
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Richard English:
It never fails to amaze me that companies spend thousands of pounds on materials design, thousands on printing and thousands on distribution - yet fail to spend less than a hundred quid on proofing.


I'm not so sure about the money regarding proofing. It seems that the eye and mind see what they see. I mean that often the same mistake is overlooked by many, because it's a mistake that one sees without seeing it. To be more precise, some words are overlooked over and over and over by many people, as they're taken for granted or so obvious that the mistake is not seen; it is read as it is supposed to be read, not as written.


something essential
 
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quote:
Originally posted by arnie:
If he were your brother's only friend he'd be "the friend of my brother's", or "the friend of my brother". "A friend" implies that there are more than one.


This is a spooky quote. I know what it means to say, but I see a funeral pyre, and the rest of his life is the time the fire takes to kill the man.


something essential
 
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quote:
Originally posted by aput:
another case of leaders' failing to lead by example is fine, but the apostrophe-less form another case of leaders failing to lead by example is equally good. In the plural the accusative and genitive are alike.

Try it with a plural word where they differ: another case of men failing to lead by example and another case of men's failing to lead by example are both acceptable to me, though there's more clearly some kind of register or style difference here. The genitive subject is more old-fashioned, I think, so there could well be people whose dialects don't allow it.

And why do I call the non-genitive case the accusative here? Because it is in pronouns: you can say me failing to lead or my failing to lead but not *I failing to lead.

Interestingly, not only is there a noun failure, which like all nouns can only have a genitive subject (my failure not *I failure or *me failure [unless you pronounce unstressed my as me, in which case they merge]), but there is also a noun failing distinct from the gerund, and this noun can only take the genitive: my failing was to trust too much in..., not *me failing was to...


I disagree. When it's a gerund or a participle, the possessive is usually correct, but it depends on the meaning. For example, "Watch me playing football," means "Watch me do something well." "Listen to my understanding of your words," refers to the fact that the listener is not getting the person's understanding, not the person, "me" or "my."


something essential
 
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May I reply? In American usage, Strunk and White, it's clear. Great figures don't get an 's. It's Jesus' sermon, Moses' sword. If a name is very long or has many sss in it, it gets no 's. If it's a simple name, such as Jones, then it does, such as Jones's car.... It's definitive. The New York Time follows this rule. Many, maybe most do not.


That is the same in UK English. Historical figures such as Jesus, Moses and Xerxes take the s - apostrophe possessive. All other nouns - be they proper or normal - ending in s take the s - apostrophe s possessive in the singular.

In spite of the strictures of the various US style guides, it seems to me that many Americans use the formation s - apostrophe for any noun ending in s (the boss' office instead of the boss's office) although I believe they tend to pronounce boss' as "bossez" as if they had actually written boss's.


Richard English
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Bridg2Peace:
quote:
Originally posted by Richard English:
It never fails to amaze me that companies spend thousands of pounds on materials design, thousands on printing and thousands on distribution - yet fail to spend less than a hundred quid on proofing.


I'm not so sure about the money regarding proofing. It seems that the eye and mind see what they see. I mean that often the same mistake is overlooked by many, because it's a mistake that one sees without seeing it. To be more precise, some words are overlooked over and over and over by many people, as they're taken for granted or so obvious that the mistake is not seen; it is read as it is supposed to be read, not as written.

That is what normal folk do. Which is why there are professional proof-readers whose job it is to spot solecisms.

When I write a manual I check it myself, use the computer grammar and spell-check and have it externally proofed by a proper proofreader three times.

I think you can be quite sure that the solecisms that have been subject to mention here are in documents that have had no benefit whatsoever of a proofreader's attentions.


Richard English
 
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I think you can be quite sure that the solecisms that have been subject to mention here are in documents that have had no benefit whatsoever of a proofreader's attentions.


I've found most often the errors occur because the boss wrote the copy and no one wants to incur his wrath by pointing out his stupidity. The boss is always right, even when he's wrong.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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I've found most often the errors occur because the boss wrote the copy and no one wants to incur his wrath by pointing out his stupidity.

Well, if you phrase it like that, I'd not be surprised if you incurred his wrath.

Although I'm not a professional proofreader, I have become the 'go-to' person in the office for this, and that includes my bosses. My changes to their writings are framed as suggestions and if we've time I'll give a short explanation why I feel my version is better; almost without exception they are accepted with good grace. That doesn't really include some of the more obvious errors such as typos, which are simply changed.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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I've found most often the errors occur because the boss wrote the copy and no one wants to incur his wrath by pointing out his stupidity. The boss is always right, even when he's wrong.

Just my innate cynicism showing through.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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May I reply? In American usage, Strunk and White, it's clear. Great figures don't get an 's.
First off, Welcome to our Board, Bridg2Peace! It's nice to have yet another poster from California.

However, regarding that quote of yours above, I disagree on two levels. First, Strunk and white is not American usage. It's one book that many linguists consider ill-conceived. If you haven't read the Language Log Blog, I'd encourage you to on that subject. Secondly, absolutely Americans use s's...such as Charles's book. One of my posts here, a long time ago, was about precisely that. My daughter's law professor took points off on a paper where she wrote "Charles' book. That's just one example, I know, but many of us (including me) use the s's formation.
 
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That would make me not want to go there - no attention to detail.
 
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