Obsessive over possessives
I love seeing a good argument over punctuation in the community.
And that's just what Minneapolis has at the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus. Their new Scholars Walk -- or should it be Scholars' Walk? -- is stirring some strong feelings.
One school official involved in the project says: "We're honoring Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners and Academy Award winners and great scholars. It's their walk, in a sense. ... I just thought it was a good use of the apostrophe."
Another can't disagree more: "The Scholars Walk honors the scholars; it doesn't belong to the scholars. It's not possessive. Therefore, it seemed to me it didn't call for an apostrophe."
So what would AP style dictate? It's spelled out pretty clearly:
DESCRIPTIVE PHRASES: Do not add an apostrophe to a word ending in s when it is used primarily in a descriptive sense: citizens band radio, a Cincinnati Reds infielder, a teachers college, a Teamsters request, a writers guide.So, the Scholars Walk probably wouldn't take an apostrophe using AP. As such, my first instinct is to say "no apostrophe!"
Memory Aid: The apostrophe usually is not used if for or by rather than of would be appropriate in the longer form: a radio band for citizens, a college for teachers, a guide for writers, a request by the Teamsters.
An 's is required however, when a term involves a plural word that does not end in s: a children's hospital, a people's republic, the Young Men's Christian Association.
But the more I've thought about it, the more I remember being in high school, first learning the Associated Press Stylebook. This entry befuddled me. If you need the apostrophe for women's gym, you should need the apostrophe for girls' gym. There really isn't a good argument to make against it.
And so I argue against AP style and for the apostrophe. Today. I might change my mind tomorrow.
But when the results are this close, you really can't choose wrong (or right).