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Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Posted: 07 September 2013 05:13 PM   [ Ignore ]
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This is the full name of a recent movie.

Is this use of the apostrophe consistent with modern guidellines?

Note that Lee Daniels is the name of the director.

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Posted: 07 September 2013 05:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Yes.  There is variation in practice, but as noted in MWDEU, it is common to use the apostrophe alone with multisyllabic names ending with /s/ or /z/.

[ Edited: 07 September 2013 05:49 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 07 September 2013 05:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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OP Tipping - 07 September 2013 05:13 PM

This is the full name of a recent movie.

Is this use of the apostrophe consistent with modern guidellines?

Note that Lee Daniels is the name of the director.

Perhaps we find ourselves in an alternate universe? [guidellines]

I do n’t think that this use of the “‘“ is consistent with “modern guidellines”

but what of the etymology of “apostrophe” itself?

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Posted: 07 September 2013 05:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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See, for instance, http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/words/apostrophe

With personal names that end in -s: add an apostrophe plus s when you would naturally pronounce an extra s if you said the word out loud:

He joined Charles’s army in 1642.
Dickens’s novels provide a wonderful insight into Victorian England.
Thomas’s brother was injured in the accident.

Note that there are some exceptions to this rule, especially in names of places or organizations, for example:

St Thomas’ Hospital

...

With personal names that end in -s but are not spoken with an extra s: just add an apostrophe after the -s:

The court dismissed Bridges’ appeal.
Connors’ finest performance was in 1991.

(I personally would omit the final s in Dickens’s, both in pronouncing it and writing it.)

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Posted: 07 September 2013 06:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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but what of the etymology of “apostrophe” itself?

A nice concise one from the World English Dictionary:

from Late Latin, from Greek apostrophos mark of elision, from apostrephein to turn away

One might add “via French” to that “from late Latin”.

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Posted: 07 September 2013 06:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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It’s common enough that I’d call it a style choice.

Garner doesn’t mention the topic, which is surprising.

MWDEU calls it “the chief variation” regarding apostrophe use, and says “some writers” do it.

The Cambridge Guide to English Usage gives the most explication of the issue. It outlines four different practices:
1) Literary, classical, and religious names get the apostrophe only, all others apostrophe s (e.g., Keats’ and Jones’s)
2) As above, except only names of more than one syllable get the apostrophe s (e.g., Menzies’s, Keats’s, and Jesus’)
3) Any name ending in a “long ‘eez’ sound” uses an apostrophe only (e.g., Jones’s and Xerxes’)
4) Any name whose possessive is pronounced with the same number of syllables as the plain form takes only the apostrophe (the guide points out that this one is the most problematic, as pronunciation varies)

Pullum and Huddleston are most on point. They say, “there is a good deal of variation here and it is not possible to give hard and fast rules. The bare genitive [i.e., apostrophe only] is most widely used with classical, religious, and literary names [...]. Elsewhere it is normally restricted to names pronounced with a voiced /z/ rather than voiceless /s/ [...]. Examples like Ross’ are sometimes attested but they are of questionable acceptability; Ross’s is the normal form, and in speech the /iz/ is required.” Simply substitute Daniels for Ross in their example.

Editing Canadian English says, “there is little agreement in the treatment of the possessive of proper nouns ending in a sounded s or z.” [This book also notes that many corporate names in Canada omit the apostrophe where their name would traditionally have it in order to comply with Quebec’s language laws, which forbid the apostrophe in such cases. That of course isn’t relevant to the topic at hand, but it’s very Canadian.]

It violates MLA style.

It violates Chicago style.

It violates Oxford style.

It violates Australian government style.

In summary, there doesn’t appear to be any regional variation in the practice. It’s muddled everywhere that English is written. The only consistency seems to be found among professional publishing houses, who would require Daniels’s Butler. But movie studios aren’t obliged to follow the follow the style manuals of publishers.

In the case of movie titles, I would suspect that the graphic artists designing the posters and ads have more influence on the subject than the copy editors. The choice will be to go with whatever looks cleanest and best, rather than traditional editorial rules or how the words are pronounced.

[ Edited: 08 September 2013 08:13 AM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 08 September 2013 06:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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but what of the etymology of “apostrophe” itself?

As I said here, it should historically be said with three syllables ("apostroff"), and it is odd that purists don’t complain about the vulgar four-syllable pronunciation.

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Posted: 28 March 2015 07:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Saw this today in my New Yorker magazine feed. Mary Norris is the copy editor for the New Yorker.

Her very concise video about the use of the apostrophe at the New Yorker.

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Posted: 28 March 2015 03:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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languagehat - 08 September 2013 06:38 AM

it should historically be said with three syllables ("apostroff"), and it is odd that purists don’t complain about the vulgar four-syllable pronunciation.

Is that true for any other -strophe words?  E.g., anastrophe or catastrophe?

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Posted: 28 March 2015 05:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Faldage - 28 March 2015 03:27 PM

languagehat - 08 September 2013 06:38 AM
it should historically be said with three syllables ("apostroff"), and it is odd that purists don’t complain about the vulgar four-syllable pronunciation.

Is that true for any other -strophe words?  E.g., anastrophe or catastrophe?

If Dutch and French are anything to go by, yes.

The Greek verb in question seems to be ‘strephein’, however that is pronounced. I don’t know any Greek but I would guess ‘streph’ is the root of the verb and thus gets the stress?

[ Edited: 28 March 2015 05:40 PM by BlackGrey ]
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Posted: 29 March 2015 06:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Is that true for any other -strophe words?  E.g., anastrophe or catastrophe?

Apples and oranges.  The two words you mention are from Greek feminines ending in long e (ἀναστροϕή, καταστροϕή), so of course the -e is pronounced in English.  Apostrophe in the sense of a punctuation mark is from French apostrophe, itself (via Latin apostrophus) from Greek ἀπόστροϕος, a masculine noun ending in -ος; in English it should be either apostrophus (if we had borrowed it direct from Latin) or apostrophe with silent -e ("apostroff"), as in French.  It is bizarre that the final -e is sounded; I can only suppose that it is contamination from the less common apostrophe ‘A figure of speech, by which a speaker or writer suddenly stops in his discourse, and turns to address pointedly some person or thing, either present or absent; an exclamatory address’ (OED), which is from Greek ἀποστροϕή and thus has the final -e pronounced for the same historical reasons as anastrophe and catastrophe.

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Posted: 29 March 2015 07:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I didn’t know that.  Of course the aberrant pronunciation of the ‘ apostrophe might equally be due to contamination from the other -strophe words.

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Posted: 29 March 2015 12:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Faldage - 29 March 2015 07:05 AM

I didn’t know that.  Of course the aberrant pronunciation of the ‘ apostrophe might equally be due to contamination from the other -strophe words.

But apparently it is not the “aberrant” pronunciation, because everyone pronounces it with the four-syllable pronunciation, although it is not how it should be pronounced.

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Posted: 29 March 2015 01:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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languagehat - 08 September 2013 06:38 AM

but what of the etymology of “apostrophe” itself?

As I said here, it should historically be said with three syllables ("apostroff"), and it is odd that purists don’t complain about the vulgar four-syllable pronunciation.

Your blog on apostroph-apostrophe was very interesting and informative. I am wondering if your ardency is as eager with the more common two-syllable pronunciation of forte rather then the more proper fort.
It falls under the same argument: the final “e” is a false feminine ending. 

OED: Etymology:  <” French fort, absolute use of fort strong: see fort adj. As in many other adoptions of French adjectives used as nouns, the feminine form has been ignorantly substituted for the masculine; compare locale, morale (of an army), etc.”

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Posted: 29 March 2015 08:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I am wondering if your ardency is as eager with the more common two-syllable pronunciation of forte rather then the more proper fort.

I don’t think it was LH’s ardency by the “purists”. I’ll bet LH pronounces apostrophe with 4 syllables.

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Posted: 30 March 2015 05:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I am wondering if your ardency is as eager with the more common two-syllable pronunciation of forte rather then the more proper fort.
It falls under the same argument: the final “e” is a false feminine ending.

OED: Etymology: <” French fort, absolute use of fort strong: see fort adj. As in many other adoptions of French adjectives used as nouns, the feminine form has been ignorantly substituted for the masculine; compare locale, morale (of an army), etc.”

That OED entry is from 1897, and I’m sure they’re embarrassed by it now; lexicographers don’t talk about things being “ignorantly substituted” any more.  As for the two-syllable pronunciation of forte, I use it myself and encourage others to do so; I consider the “more proper fort” silly and unfounded.  I’ll let the excellent MWDEU explain:

First, it is now an English word, which we may pronounce as we see fit. [...]

Second, the spelling isn’t French either—in French the word is le fort—so any quest for Gallic purism is doomed from the start.

Third, the recommended pronunciation, rhyming with fort, also is not the French one, which rhymes rather with for.

I would add (and I’m surprised the MWDEU didn’t point this out) that the two-syllable pronunciation eliminates the unfortunate homophony with the far more common fort; why should people have to guess what you mean when you talk about “my fort”?

I don’t think it was LH’s ardency by the “purists”. I’ll bet LH pronounces apostrophe with 4 syllables.

Absolutely correct.  It was a philosophical/historical point, not a prescriptive one.

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