Discussion:
Let's fix possessives of singular nouns ending in 's' once and for all
(too old to reply)
DavidW
2018-01-07 22:00:22 UTC
Permalink
I'm sick of reading possessives in the newspaper such as Harris' and
Qantas'. If reading aloud, does the writer expect the reader to fill in
the missing 's' or pronounce it as written? Speaking off the cuff, no
one would pronounce those possessives without a trailing 's', so write
the 's'. The likely cause of this nasty possessive disease is a simple
logic or common-sense deficiency, so it shouldn't be too hard to
eradicate it.
Madrigal Gurneyhalt
2018-01-07 22:07:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by DavidW
I'm sick of reading possessives in the newspaper such as Harris' and
Qantas'. If reading aloud, does the writer expect the reader to fill in
the missing 's' or pronounce it as written? Speaking off the cuff, no
one would pronounce those possessives without a trailing 's', so write
the 's'. The likely cause of this nasty possessive disease is a simple
logic or common-sense deficiency, so it shouldn't be too hard to
eradicate it.
It's an apostrophe indicating an elision so yes you're supposed to
add the 's' (if of course you're so poor a reader that you need to
pronounce words in your head rather than just acknowledging the
meaning). It's been standard style for many publications for at l
least as long as I've been conscious of orthographical decisions
(so well over 40 years) so it seems a strange thing to be getting
exercised over in 2017!
DavidW
2018-01-07 22:24:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
Post by DavidW
I'm sick of reading possessives in the newspaper such as Harris' and
Qantas'. If reading aloud, does the writer expect the reader to fill in
the missing 's' or pronounce it as written? Speaking off the cuff, no
one would pronounce those possessives without a trailing 's', so write
the 's'. The likely cause of this nasty possessive disease is a simple
logic or common-sense deficiency, so it shouldn't be too hard to
eradicate it.
It's an apostrophe indicating an elision so yes you're supposed to
add the 's'
Should I add it in "for goodness' sake"?

Anyway, if you're supposed to pronounce it, why not put it on the page?
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
(if of course you're so poor a reader that you need to
pronounce words in your head rather than just acknowledging the
meaning).
I'm not a particularly fast reader but I'm not a poor one either, and I
can't help "hearing" the words on the page in my head as I read
(silently) and I do not "hear" a trailing 's' on Harris', for example.
That's why it's so annoying. I don't understand how anyone can bear it.
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
It's been standard style for many publications for at l
least as long as I've been conscious of orthographical decisions
(so well over 40 years) so it seems a strange thing to be getting
exercised over in 2017!
There's no logic to it. If the singular noun doesn't end in 's' then
there _is_ an 's' added after the apostrophe, so why make an exception?
I'm just calling for a simple rule: if you pronounce the 's' then write it.
Madrigal Gurneyhalt
2018-01-08 00:04:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by DavidW
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
Post by DavidW
I'm sick of reading possessives in the newspaper such as Harris' and
Qantas'. If reading aloud, does the writer expect the reader to fill in
the missing 's' or pronounce it as written? Speaking off the cuff, no
one would pronounce those possessives without a trailing 's', so write
the 's'. The likely cause of this nasty possessive disease is a simple
logic or common-sense deficiency, so it shouldn't be too hard to
eradicate it.
It's an apostrophe indicating an elision so yes you're supposed to
add the 's'
Should I add it in "for goodness' sake"?
Anyway, if you're supposed to pronounce it, why not put it on the page?
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
(if of course you're so poor a reader that you need to
pronounce words in your head rather than just acknowledging the
meaning).
I'm not a particularly fast reader but I'm not a poor one either, and I
can't help "hearing" the words on the page in my head as I read
(silently) and I do not "hear" a trailing 's' on Harris', for example.
That's why it's so annoying. I don't understand how anyone can bear it.
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
It's been standard style for many publications for at l
least as long as I've been conscious of orthographical decisions
(so well over 40 years) so it seems a strange thing to be getting
exercised over in 2017!
There's no logic to it. If the singular noun doesn't end in 's' then
there _is_ an 's' added after the apostrophe, so why make an exception?
I'm just calling for a simple rule: if you pronounce the 's' then write it.
All of which begs the question of how you distinguish ...

All members of the family Harris (ie. the plural of Harris)
The possessive of one Harris (as discussed above)
The possessive of all members of the family Harris

I presume you're not going to advocate Harris's's for
the last of those?
b***@aol.com
2018-01-08 01:38:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
Post by DavidW
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
Post by DavidW
I'm sick of reading possessives in the newspaper such as Harris' and
Qantas'. If reading aloud, does the writer expect the reader to fill in
the missing 's' or pronounce it as written? Speaking off the cuff, no
one would pronounce those possessives without a trailing 's', so write
the 's'. The likely cause of this nasty possessive disease is a simple
logic or common-sense deficiency, so it shouldn't be too hard to
eradicate it.
It's an apostrophe indicating an elision so yes you're supposed to
add the 's'
Should I add it in "for goodness' sake"?
Anyway, if you're supposed to pronounce it, why not put it on the page?
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
(if of course you're so poor a reader that you need to
pronounce words in your head rather than just acknowledging the
meaning).
I'm not a particularly fast reader but I'm not a poor one either, and I
can't help "hearing" the words on the page in my head as I read
(silently) and I do not "hear" a trailing 's' on Harris', for example.
That's why it's so annoying. I don't understand how anyone can bear it.
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
It's been standard style for many publications for at l
least as long as I've been conscious of orthographical decisions
(so well over 40 years) so it seems a strange thing to be getting
exercised over in 2017!
There's no logic to it. If the singular noun doesn't end in 's' then
there _is_ an 's' added after the apostrophe, so why make an exception?
I'm just calling for a simple rule: if you pronounce the 's' then write > it.
That's already always the case.
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
All of which begs the question of how you distinguish ...
All members of the family Harris (ie. the plural of Harris)
The possessive of one Harris (as discussed above)
The possessive of all members of the family Harris
I presume you're not going to advocate Harris's's for
the last of those?
??? 1) The applicable rule for the plural of "Harris" is to add e before s,
as it ends in -s, so "the Harrises"(could have been the "Harres" if it
had been Greek), and 2) the rule for the possessive case of plural nouns
having a regular form in -s is to add a simple apostrophe (not followed by
"s"), hence "Harrises'" ("the Harrises' house", for example).
DavidW
2018-01-08 02:02:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
Post by DavidW
There's no logic to it. If the singular noun doesn't end in 's' then
there _is_ an 's' added after the apostrophe, so why make an exception?
I'm just calling for a simple rule: if you pronounce the 's' then write it.
All of which begs the question of how you distinguish ...
All members of the family Harris (ie. the plural of Harris)
Harrises
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
The possessive of one Harris (as discussed above)
Harris's
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
The possessive of all members of the family Harris
Harrises'
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
I presume you're not going to advocate Harris's's for
the last of those?
Peter Duncanson [BrE]
2018-01-07 22:30:23 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 7 Jan 2018 14:07:03 -0800 (PST), Madrigal Gurneyhalt
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
Post by DavidW
I'm sick of reading possessives in the newspaper such as Harris' and
Qantas'. If reading aloud, does the writer expect the reader to fill in
the missing 's' or pronounce it as written? Speaking off the cuff, no
one would pronounce those possessives without a trailing 's', so write
the 's'. The likely cause of this nasty possessive disease is a simple
logic or common-sense deficiency, so it shouldn't be too hard to
eradicate it.
It's an apostrophe indicating an elision so yes you're supposed to
add the 's' (if of course you're so poor a reader that you need to
pronounce words in your head rather than just acknowledging the
meaning). It's been standard style for many publications for at l
least as long as I've been conscious of orthographical decisions
(so well over 40 years) so it seems a strange thing to be getting
exercised over in 2017!
Yes. The Wikip article says:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostrophe#Singular_nouns_ending_with_an_"s"_or_"z"_sound

Singular nouns ending with an "s" or "z" sound

This subsection deals with singular nouns pronounced with a sibilant
sound at the end: /s/ or /z/. The spelling of these ends with -s,
-se, -z, -ze, -ce, -x, or -xe.

Many respected authorities recommend that practically all singular
nouns, including those ending with a sibilant sound, have possessive
forms with an extra s after the apostrophe so that the spelling
reflects the underlying pronunciation. Examples include Oxford
University Press, the Modern Language Association, the BBC and The
Economist. Such authorities demand possessive singulars like
these: Senator Jones’s umbrella; Tony Adams’s friend. Rules that
modify or extend the standard principle have included the following:

If the singular possessive is difficult or awkward to pronounce
with an added sibilant, do not add an extra s; these exceptions
are supported by The Guardian, Yahoo! Style Guide, and The
American Heritage Book of English Usage. Such sources permit
possessive singulars like these: Socrates’ later suggestion; or
Achilles’ heel if that is how the pronunciation is intended.

<snip>

Note that example "Achilles’ heel". I have never seen or heard it as
"Achilles’s heel".
--
Peter Duncanson, UK
(in alt.usage.english)
DavidW
2018-01-07 22:40:29 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostrophe#Singular_nouns_ending_with_an_"s"_or_"z"_sound
Singular nouns ending with an "s" or "z" sound
This subsection deals with singular nouns pronounced with a sibilant
sound at the end: /s/ or /z/. The spelling of these ends with -s,
-se, -z, -ze, -ce, -x, or -xe.
Many respected authorities recommend that practically all singular
nouns, including those ending with a sibilant sound, have possessive
forms with an extra s after the apostrophe so that the spelling
reflects the underlying pronunciation. Examples include Oxford
University Press, the Modern Language Association, the BBC and The
Economist. Such authorities demand possessive singulars like
these: Senator Jones’s umbrella; Tony Adams’s friend. Rules that
If the singular possessive is difficult or awkward to pronounce
with an added sibilant, do not add an extra s; these exceptions
are supported by The Guardian, Yahoo! Style Guide, and The
American Heritage Book of English Usage. Such sources permit
possessive singulars like these: Socrates’ later suggestion; or
Achilles’ heel if that is how the pronunciation is intended.
<snip>
That lot should carry enough weight for recalcitrant publications such
as The Age newspaper to get with the program.
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
Note that example "Achilles’ heel". I have never seen or heard it as
"Achilles’s heel".
IIRC, H.W.Fowler (who essentially also recommended adding the 's' if
it's pronounced) gave some exceptions. I think Achilles might have been
one, and Jesus another (because there is no possessive 's' pronounced in
those cases).
RH Draney
2018-01-07 22:55:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
Many respected authorities recommend that practically all singular
nouns, including those ending with a sibilant sound, have possessive
forms with an extra s after the apostrophe so that the spelling
reflects the underlying pronunciation. Examples include Oxford
University Press, the Modern Language Association, the BBC and The
Economist. Such authorities demand possessive singulars like
these: Senator Jones’s umbrella; Tony Adams’s friend. Rules that
If the singular possessive is difficult or awkward to pronounce
with an added sibilant, do not add an extra s; these exceptions
are supported by The Guardian, Yahoo! Style Guide, and The
American Heritage Book of English Usage. Such sources permit
possessive singulars like these: Socrates’ later suggestion; or
Achilles’ heel if that is how the pronunciation is intended.
<snip>
Note that example "Achilles’ heel". I have never seen or heard it as
"Achilles’s heel".
You're not going to eradicate my memory of ten years listening to my
grandfather say grace at the dinner table and ending each prayer with
"now we ask your blessing upon this food and we ask it in Jesus' name,
amen"....r
Peter Duncanson [BrE]
2018-01-07 23:55:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by RH Draney
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
Many respected authorities recommend that practically all singular
nouns, including those ending with a sibilant sound, have possessive
forms with an extra s after the apostrophe so that the spelling
reflects the underlying pronunciation. Examples include Oxford
University Press, the Modern Language Association, the BBC and The
Economist. Such authorities demand possessive singulars like
these: Senator Jones’s umbrella; Tony Adams’s friend. Rules that
If the singular possessive is difficult or awkward to pronounce
with an added sibilant, do not add an extra s; these exceptions
are supported by The Guardian, Yahoo! Style Guide, and The
American Heritage Book of English Usage. Such sources permit
possessive singulars like these: Socrates’ later suggestion; or
Achilles’ heel if that is how the pronunciation is intended.
<snip>
Note that example "Achilles’ heel". I have never seen or heard it as
"Achilles’s heel".
You're not going to eradicate my memory of ten years listening to my
grandfather say grace at the dinner table and ending each prayer with
"now we ask your blessing upon this food and we ask it in Jesus' name,
amen"....r
Some preachers (and others) do say "Jesus's", and, er.., make a meal of
it.
--
Peter Duncanson, UK
(in alt.usage.english)
Athel Cornish-Bowden
2018-01-08 08:45:48 UTC
Permalink
[ ... ]
Note that example "Achilles’ heel". I have never seen or heard it as
"Achilles’s heel".
We all have Achilles tendons, but they belong us, not to Achilles, so I
regard "Achilles" as an adjective, not as possessive.
--
athel
b***@aol.com
2018-01-08 01:29:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
Post by DavidW
I'm sick of reading possessives in the newspaper such as Harris' and
Qantas'. If reading aloud, does the writer expect the reader to fill in
the missing 's' or pronounce it as written? Speaking off the cuff, no
one would pronounce those possessives without a trailing 's', so write
the 's'. The likely cause of this nasty possessive disease is a simple
logic or common-sense deficiency, so it shouldn't be too hard to
eradicate it.
It's not a disease. The simple rule is that the possessive case of proper
nouns ending in -s can be "s'" or "s's". People who write 'Harris'" don't
pronounce a final "'s".
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
It's an apostrophe indicating an elision
What elision? In "Harris'", the apostrophe just indicates the possessive
case. However, in "Harris's", the apostrophe does indicate the elision
of an "e".
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
so yes you're supposed to
add the 's' (if of course you're so poor a reader that you need to
pronounce words in your head rather than just acknowledging the
meaning).
No you're not supposed to if the writer meant "Harris'" and not
"Harris's".
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
It's been standard style for many publications for at l
least as long as I've been conscious of orthographical decisions
(so well over 40 years) so it seems a strange thing to be getting
exercised over in 2017!
Strange but not totally useless, apparently.
DavidW
2018-01-08 02:09:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by b***@aol.com
Post by DavidW
I'm sick of reading possessives in the newspaper such as Harris' and
Qantas'. If reading aloud, does the writer expect the reader to fill in
the missing 's' or pronounce it as written? Speaking off the cuff, no
one would pronounce those possessives without a trailing 's', so write
the 's'. The likely cause of this nasty possessive disease is a simple
logic or common-sense deficiency, so it shouldn't be too hard to
eradicate it.
It's not a disease. The simple rule is that the possessive case of proper
nouns
Just proper nouns? I haven't come across a different rule them before.
Post by b***@aol.com
ending in -s can be "s'" or "s's". People who write 'Harris'" don't
pronounce a final "'s".
In normal conversation would they really say it like that? I'm very
doubtful. I'm also curious as to the origin of that peculiarity. My
guess is that the written form came first (by mistake, probably) and the
spoken form followed.
b***@aol.com
2018-01-08 02:43:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by DavidW
Post by b***@aol.com
Post by DavidW
I'm sick of reading possessives in the newspaper such as Harris' and
Qantas'. If reading aloud, does the writer expect the reader to fill in
the missing 's' or pronounce it as written? Speaking off the cuff, no
one would pronounce those possessives without a trailing 's', so write
the 's'. The likely cause of this nasty possessive disease is a simple
logic or common-sense deficiency, so it shouldn't be too hard to
eradicate it.
It's not a disease. The simple rule is that the possessive case of proper
nouns
Just proper nouns?
Yes, you can't say e.g. "my cats's names" but must say "my cats' names".
Post by DavidW
I haven't come across a different rule them before.
Post by b***@aol.com
ending in -s can be "s'" or "s's". People who write 'Harris'" don't
pronounce a final "'s".
In normal conversation would they really say it like that?
I suppose so.
Post by DavidW
I'm very doubtful.
Theat's basic literacy, though.
Post by DavidW
I'm also curious as to the origin of that peculiarity. My
guess is that the written form came first (by mistake, probably) and the
spoken form followed.
Mine is that the -s' form was adopted for euphony.
DavidW
2018-01-08 03:24:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by b***@aol.com
Post by DavidW
Post by b***@aol.com
It's not a disease. The simple rule is that the possessive case of proper
nouns
Just proper nouns?
Yes, you can't say e.g. "my cats's names" but must say "my cats' names".
That's a plural. This is only about singular nouns, and there are
thousands that aren't proper nouns but end in 's' (e.g. "boss").
b***@aol.com
2018-01-08 03:43:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by DavidW
Post by b***@aol.com
Post by DavidW
Post by b***@aol.com
It's not a disease. The simple rule is that the possessive case of proper
nouns
Just proper nouns?
Yes, you can't say e.g. "my cats's names" but must say "my cats' names".
That's a plural. This is only about singular nouns, and there are
thousands that aren't proper nouns but end in 's' (e.g. "boss").
Right, but you didn't ask about the plural of common nouns ending in -s
in the singular: these take 's in the possessive case, i.e. "boss's".
DavidW
2018-01-08 08:54:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by b***@aol.com
Post by DavidW
Post by b***@aol.com
Post by DavidW
Post by b***@aol.com
It's not a disease. The simple rule is that the possessive case of proper
nouns
Just proper nouns?
Yes, you can't say e.g. "my cats's names" but must say "my cats' names".
That's a plural. This is only about singular nouns, and there are
thousands that aren't proper nouns but end in 's' (e.g. "boss").
Right, but you didn't ask about the plural of common nouns ending in -s
in the singular: these take 's in the possessive case, i.e. "boss's".
I did, but just gave proper-noun examples that I see most often in the
paper, not having any reason to believe there is any difference between
those and common nouns. I still don't see why there should be a
difference, or which authority says there is a difference. My OP is
general, not specific to proper nouns.
Jerry Friedman
2018-01-08 04:20:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by DavidW
Post by b***@aol.com
Post by DavidW
I'm sick of reading possessives in the newspaper such as Harris' and
Qantas'. If reading aloud, does the writer expect the reader to fill in
the missing 's' or pronounce it as written? Speaking off the cuff, no
one would pronounce those possessives without a trailing 's', so write
the 's'. The likely cause of this nasty possessive disease is a simple
logic or common-sense deficiency, so it shouldn't be too hard to
eradicate it.
It's not a disease. The simple rule is that the possessive case of proper
nouns
Just proper nouns? I haven't come across a different rule them before.
Post by b***@aol.com
ending in -s can be "s'" or "s's". People who write 'Harris'" don't
pronounce a final "'s".
In normal conversation would they really say it like that?
I hear people saying things like "Harris' dog" all the time, and I
have heard at least one think I was joking when I said something
like "Harris's" with three syllables.
Post by DavidW
I'm very
doubtful. I'm also curious as to the origin of that peculiarity. My
guess is that the written form came first (by mistake, probably) and the
spoken form followed.
I suspect, based on such forms as "Jesus' name", that not adding
the syllable is the older practice.
--
Jerry Friedman
Will Parsons
2018-01-10 02:50:50 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by DavidW
Post by b***@aol.com
Post by DavidW
I'm sick of reading possessives in the newspaper such as Harris' and
Qantas'. If reading aloud, does the writer expect the reader to fill in
the missing 's' or pronounce it as written? Speaking off the cuff, no
one would pronounce those possessives without a trailing 's', so write
the 's'. The likely cause of this nasty possessive disease is a simple
logic or common-sense deficiency, so it shouldn't be too hard to
eradicate it.
It's not a disease. The simple rule is that the possessive case of proper
nouns
Just proper nouns? I haven't come across a different rule them before.
Post by b***@aol.com
ending in -s can be "s'" or "s's". People who write 'Harris'" don't
pronounce a final "'s".
In normal conversation would they really say it like that?
I hear people saying things like "Harris' dog" all the time, and I
have heard at least one think I was joking when I said something
like "Harris's" with three syllables.
Post by DavidW
I'm very
doubtful. I'm also curious as to the origin of that peculiarity. My
guess is that the written form came first (by mistake, probably) and the
spoken form followed.
I suspect, based on such forms as "Jesus' name", that not adding
the syllable is the older practice.
I think you are correct.
--
Will
y***@gmail.com
2018-01-10 16:15:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
Post by DavidW
I'm sick of reading possessives in the newspaper such as Harris' and
Qantas'. If reading aloud, does the writer expect the reader to fill in
the missing 's' or pronounce it as written? Speaking off the cuff, no
one would pronounce those possessives without a trailing 's', so write
the 's'. The likely cause of this nasty possessive disease is a simple
logic or common-sense deficiency, so it shouldn't be too hard to
eradicate it.
It's an apostrophe indicating an elision so yes you're supposed to
add the 's' (if of course you're so poor a reader that you need to
pronounce words in your head rather than just acknowledging the
meaning). It's been standard style for many publications for at l
least as long as I've been conscious of orthographical decisions
(so well over 40 years) so it seems a strange thing to be getting
exercised over in 2017!
If an apostrophe indicates an elision, what is being elided in (for example) cat's?
Madrigal Gurneyhalt
2018-01-10 21:46:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by y***@gmail.com
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
Post by DavidW
I'm sick of reading possessives in the newspaper such as Harris' and
Qantas'. If reading aloud, does the writer expect the reader to fill in
the missing 's' or pronounce it as written? Speaking off the cuff, no
one would pronounce those possessives without a trailing 's', so write
the 's'. The likely cause of this nasty possessive disease is a simple
logic or common-sense deficiency, so it shouldn't be too hard to
eradicate it.
It's an apostrophe indicating an elision so yes you're supposed to
add the 's' (if of course you're so poor a reader that you need to
pronounce words in your head rather than just acknowledging the
meaning). It's been standard style for many publications for at l
least as long as I've been conscious of orthographical decisions
(so well over 40 years) so it seems a strange thing to be getting
exercised over in 2017!
If an apostrophe indicates an elision, what is being elided in (for example) cat's?
I don't remember saying that an apostrophe's only use is elision!
David Kleinecke
2018-01-10 22:08:29 UTC
Permalink
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
Post by y***@gmail.com
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
Post by DavidW
I'm sick of reading possessives in the newspaper such as Harris' and
Qantas'. If reading aloud, does the writer expect the reader to fill in
the missing 's' or pronounce it as written? Speaking off the cuff, no
one would pronounce those possessives without a trailing 's', so write
the 's'. The likely cause of this nasty possessive disease is a simple
logic or common-sense deficiency, so it shouldn't be too hard to
eradicate it.
It's an apostrophe indicating an elision so yes you're supposed to
add the 's' (if of course you're so poor a reader that you need to
pronounce words in your head rather than just acknowledging the
meaning). It's been standard style for many publications for at l
least as long as I've been conscious of orthographical decisions
(so well over 40 years) so it seems a strange thing to be getting
exercised over in 2017!
If an apostrophe indicates an elision, what is being elided in (for example) cat's?
I don't remember saying that an apostrophe's only use is elision!
Especially not in Hawai'i
Peter Moylan
2018-01-11 01:11:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by y***@gmail.com
Post by Madrigal Gurneyhalt
Post by DavidW
I'm sick of reading possessives in the newspaper such as Harris'
and Qantas'. If reading aloud, does the writer expect the reader
to fill in the missing 's' or pronounce it as written? Speaking
off the cuff, no one would pronounce those possessives without a
trailing 's', so write the 's'. The likely cause of this nasty
possessive disease is a simple logic or common-sense deficiency,
so it shouldn't be too hard to eradicate it.
It's an apostrophe indicating an elision so yes you're supposed to
add the 's' (if of course you're so poor a reader that you need to
pronounce words in your head rather than just acknowledging the
meaning). It's been standard style for many publications for at l
least as long as I've been conscious of orthographical decisions
(so well over 40 years) so it seems a strange thing to be getting
exercised over in 2017!
If an apostrophe indicates an elision, what is being elided in (for example) cat's?
Old English catt. The genitive was, to the best of my knowledge, cattes.
Somewhere along the line people stopped pronouncing that unstressed "e",
i.e. they stopped saying "cattes" and said "catt's" instead.

Leaving off the "s" as well in a word like Qantas's seems to be a more
modern invention. There is a long tradition of leaving it off if the
word would otherwise be awkward to pronounce (e.g. we say Aristophenes',
not Aristophanes's), but in recent times some people have taken to
extending that exception to every word that ends in "s".
--
Peter Moylan http://www.pmoylan.org
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
y***@gmail.com
2018-01-10 16:56:05 UTC
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I think it is worthwhile to mention that the suffixed /'s/ is not really a possessive marker, even if it often serves as one (although, with "the book's author," the book doesn't really possess the author). Technically, the /'s/ suffix is a NOUN PHRASE SUBORDINATOR, as shown by examples such as "the king of England's daughter," "the president of the university's car," etc.

This is further evidence that grammatical case is completely gone from English, including the genitive. And adding to that evidence is the centuries-old and continuing reformulation of pronoun use (e.g., "for my husband and I," "I don't like him/his walking on my lawn," etc.).
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