Housekeeping Angst Over the Apostrophe-S Reaches the New York Times
posted by March 23 at 12:20 PMon
If you’ve been around Slog for a while, you will remember our bitter apostrophe-S wars. I can’t bear them anymore, so I won’t link. However. We are not alone! Today the New York Times has its chief copy editor answering questions from readers, and what is the second question (after “What do copy desks do?”) that the copy chief receives?
Q. Obviously we add both an apostrophe and an “s” to indicate the possessive of singular nouns (Mary’s hair, the desk’s top). Obviously we do this even when the last letter/sound of the noun is an “s” (Bob Jones’s hair, a mouse’s tail, the bus’s engine). Why should the plural be different? (the desks’ color, the trees’ value, the Walshes’ favorite restaurant). Are we punctuating them differently because “bus” and “bus’s” sound different, but “trees” sounds the same as “trees’”? Always was puzzled by this rule.
ó Jim Walsh
For the chief copy editor’s answer, and a link to a story about the Arkansas Legislature passing a resolution (!) related to this matter, see here.