U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: the grammar of spam

Re: the grammar of spam

My pet peeve lately has been the inappropriate use of the possessive form of a noun instead of the plural form. I just received an email yesterday from Phase One, the digital back makers, with the following heading:

Capture One 4: Working with the Pro's
Judy Seigel writes:

I don't know all the rules offhand, but there are some cases where plurals of, for instance, proper nouns ending in "o" or other vowels, are correctly spelled with an apostrophe, so THIS example of terribleness may be acceptable, or nearly so. I suspect if we weren't so beset with (especially) "it's" when we mean "its," as in "we love the list for its variety and atmosphere" -- and it's written, "we love the list for it's variety and atmosphere" we'd be more accepting of, say, an apostrophe after "o" in the plural.

But if the message is "We had dinner with the Shapiro's last night," or "The trouble with this country is that there's only one Chicago; we need a country FULL of Chicago's," I myself would tend to use an apostrophe --- because if you follow the rules of -- the word "phonics" comes to mind, I think that's it -- by the time the word "phonics" entered the language, I was in high school studying French, and they taught us rules of pronunciation according to the spelling -- the pronunciation of "pros" would NOT be the way we actually say the word.

As I recall the rules of pronunciation, if we spelled the plural of "pro" simply as "pros" it could be pronounced "prahss" as in "prostitute," or "pross," to rhyme with gross. In any event, it wouldn't be pronounced "prose" which is the way we actually pronounce the word. True, English spelling is infinitely irregular, which makes room for many mistakes, but adding an apostrophe to a plural of a word ending in "o" is more defensible than many others.

As for McDonald's, I believe that's meant to mean the restaurant of Mr. MacDonald (tho I think the name was chosen abritrarily... that's still the intent).

I notice this particular mistake popping up quite frequently on the internet. I guess good grammar is optional nowadays. One clue might be the answer I received from my youngest daughter the other night when I asked her if she knew the difference between an infinitive and a gerund.
So ask her if she knows the difference between a gerund & a participle... that's the one I keep losing... (AFAIK an infinitive in English begins with "to," as in "to pontificate", but for a long time competitive grammarians declared a split infinitive bad form ["I promise to not pontificate about grammar"]. Fortunately that, among other such rules, is now scotched (the prohibition, not the pontification).

But fashions in education change... and even the best schools are subject to fashion. If the fashion at your school was/is content rather than "free spirit" you were lucky. I have a friend who went to a fancy private school where the fashion was printing, not "palmer method" of handwriting, which involved rote copying, which supposedly "stifled their creativity." To this day, circa 80 years old, friend's "handwriting" is a form of chicken scratching, except less legible.

Meanwhile, I promise to not pontificate about grammar again, at least not today.