Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 19:35:08 -0400 From: Frank Southworth Subject: Possessive 's (fwd) > > I am interested in getting feedback on current usage of the possessive > 's. When I was young (I am now in my mid-60's) I was taught, and have > always observed, the rule that in writing, the final [s] was always > dropped from the sequence [s's] IF AND ONLY IF the first [s] was a mark > of the plural. Thus I write [the boy's mother, the boys' mothers, Mr. > Jones's car, the Joneses' children, keeping up with the Joneses, Harris's > theory, the Harrises, the Harrises' living room, Dickens's Christmas > Carol, Jesus's resurrection] etc. Sets of words like > [Joneses-Jones's-Joneses'] and [Harris's-Harrises-Harrises'] are > pronounced identically, viz. /jonzIz/, /haerIsIz/. I have met people > somewhat younger than me who delete the final [s] in [s's] even when the > first [s] is NOT a plural [s], in some or all cases. In fact I understand > that there are teachers of English who consider spelling like [Dickens's] > to be incorrect. > Now it seems that people of a younger generation also delete the > /Iz/ in spoken forms in cases like "keeping up with the Jones" /jonz/. I > would be glad to have more information about this. (Possibly age, geographical origin, and other factors are relevant variables...) > Frank Southworth (fsouth[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]