Sunday, November 30, 2003

An oft-forgotten AP style rule calls for singular common nouns that end in s (bus, business, campus, etc.) to be made possessive by adding an 's instead of just an apostrophe (bus's, business's, campus's, etc.). It catches people off guard because they're so used to adding just an apostrophe when a word ends in s. But it makes sense when you consider that the s is pronounced, which seems to be the guide AP used in developing these rules.

I was caught off guard tonight, however, with the word corps. Not only does it seem strange to just add an apostrophe because of the rule above; but because it has no sibilant ending, the 's seems necessary.

But then there's another rule for nouns the same in singular and plural (corps, deer, moose). AP says, "Treat them the same as plurals, even if the meaning is singular."


While we're on the subject of possessives, though, what's up with this rule?
SPECIAL EXPRESSIONS: The following exceptions to the general rule for words not ending in s apply to words that end in an s sound and are followed by a word that begins with s: for appearance' sake, for conscience' sake, for goodness' sake.
First of all, it needs to be rewritten: Goodness does end in s. Second, it doesn't hold true. Race' start? No way; it's race's start, even though race ends in an s sound and is followed by a word that begins with s.

So what about inheritance' stipulation? You got me; I have no idea how I would pronounce that. And that's the problem of these rules.

Friday, November 28, 2003

There's a funny thread going on at Testy Copy Editors about an AP spell-check-induced error. Alistair Hodgett became Alligator Hedge, which is pretty funny.

It reminds me of a time when Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's name was changed to "Janitor Koizumi," and Princess Masako's name to "Princess Mask." Looks as if other papers have made the error, too.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Why "motorists"? Why not "drivers"?

"Motorists" sounds so stilted to me, and I can't think of a time I've heard it come out of a real person's mouth.

There might be an occasion where you need to stress that you're referring to everyone who is in a car, not just the person driving. But take the time to differentiate.

I can't think of a good way to relate this to copy editing, but I think it's important to link to this frightening picture, Michael Jackson's mugshot.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Some cute headlines on "The Cat in the Hat":

On This Cat's a Dog
In Dallas Morning News review: Kitty Litter
In a Morning News refer ad:
What are they feeding us? Hollywood may have unleashed a stinker with The Cat in the Hat, and Halle Berry's Gothika isn't much better.
On My, a Cat Can Be Mean on a Very Big Screen
In a Morning News refer: 'The Cat in the Hat' falls flat

Of course, with the last two examples, the rhyming is getting old. And I have a feeling it's just begun. When one writer does it, it's clever. But if the whole world has the same idea, start over.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Hello! Is this Dallas, or is this heaven?

In the grocery store this week, I saw a sign that said "12 items or fewer." As if there weren't enough reasons to spend money at Central Market anyway.