Re: [NTLK] The "Greengrocers' Apostrophe" [OT]

From: Alan Balas <>
Date: Mon Sep 03 2007 - 20:23:13 EDT

> Yes, YES, *YES*!!!
> Using apostrophes in plurals rather than possessives (except for the
> one case where you're not supposed to but so many seem to: its) is
> overwhelming the written English language these days the way Dutch
> Elm Disease does trees...
> Sonya Hipper

Just my two cents on this thread...

With all due respect, the only languages that adhere to grammar books are
dead languages. "Living" languages are, of course, constantly evolving. For
example, take the Great Vowel Shift which occurred in English. Within about
a fifty-year span (two-and-a half generations), the vowel sounds in English
"shifted". Where a grandparent might say "ban" (pronounced like "bahn"), a
grandchild would say "bone". This seems unthinkable, but it's true.

Another example: in the 1700's, some people felt that English was becoming
"degenerate". To curb this, a series of non-Germanic, "Latinized" words were
introduced into the language. Others took the opposite route, introducing
Germanic alternatives. "Ventosity" was supposed to replace "[farting]" (I
know, wrong form). It didn't. The Germanic "not-to-be-thought-uponable" was
supposed to replace "inconceivable" (thankfully, it didn't).

I used to pay more attention to the grammar books until I took a "History of
the English Language" course in college. I'll even venture that in fifty
years, the conditional mood ("If I were ..., I would...") will be a relic,
replaced by "If I was..., I would..." in the grammar books.

- Alan

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Received on Mon Sep 3 20:23:07 2007

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