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Birmingham bans apostrophes
Posted: 31 May 2011 05:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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I’ve never heard of the “his” thing.

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Posted: 31 May 2011 06:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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No loss; your brain is free from at least one urban legend/folk etymology.

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Posted: 31 May 2011 06:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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lionello - 31 May 2011 01:59 AM

I’ve always had the idea at the back of my mind that the possesive ending - ‘s - was an abbreviation of “his” : George his book, Albert his mark, etc.  Have i been wrong all this while? (wouldn’t be the first time, nor yet the last ;-)

Since German uses the possessive s, I would have thought it went way back farther.

BTW, the Germans may be struggling with this problem as well.

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Posted: 31 May 2011 08:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Thanks to one and all for that glimmer of light in my shadowy world of words

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Posted: 01 June 2011 12:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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lionello - 31 May 2011 01:59 AM

I’ve always had the idea at the back of my mind that the possesive ending - ‘s - was an abbreviation of “his” : George his book, Albert his mark, etc.  Have i been wrong all this while? (wouldn’t be the first time, nor yet the last ;-)

This was taught to me as fact by one of my primary school teachers in the early 1960s (at a primary school in Kent which shall remain nameless to protect the guilty). It was only when I was introduced to Chaucer at grammar school that it dawned on me that English had a proper genitive after all (I’d done some Latin by then, so I knew what a genitive was).

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Posted: 01 June 2011 12:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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donkeyhotay - 31 May 2011 06:52 AM

BTW, the Germans may be struggling with this problem as well.

I’ve seen increasing numbers of rogue apostrophes appearing in German but I had no idea until reading the linked article that there was any degree of approval from an authority like Duden.

I was astonished and amused when a couple of years ago, Deutsche Telekom rebranded its domestic cellphone service from T-Mobil to T-Mobile (as used in the UK and other European countries). I had no idea it was symptomatic of a more widespread invasion of Englishisms.

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Posted: 03 June 2011 04:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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Don’t you all think that Birmingham is simply a living example of how place names change over the years/decennia/centuries/millennia…

If we go up a step in place naming to urban level, I am sure there have been many English-language names which have lost an ‘s possessive ending… just from a quick UK google: Brownsburn, St Johns-in-the-vale, Douglas Water, etc.

Point I’m trying to make is that apostrophes are not really a feature of place names in general. It may be logical to take that down to street level as well, certainly wouldn’t bother me much. It’s not like the semantics are really gonna suffer?

After a few hundred years, there are relatively few English place names which retain any original apostrophe. I would say the same effect would apply to street names after a long enough period.

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