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English possessives

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English possessives

Postby bnjtokyo » Fri Nov 02, 2007 8:52 am

The following sentence is culled from the August 27 New Yorker article on Aaron Copland. (Ok, so I am behind in my reading.)

"In the thick of the group was the composer Nicolas Nabokov, a friend of Stravinsky's and a cousin of Vladimir Nabokov's, who had written for Serge Digahilev's Ballets Russes in the nineteen-twenties and then . . . ."

Do you agree with me that the 's on Stravinsky and Nabokov is incorrect? We could say "Nicolas Nabokov, Stravinsky's friend and Nabokov's cousin" or "Nicolas Nabokov, a friend of Stravinsky and a cousin of Nabokov" but we don't need both do we?

It looks like the famous proof readers and fact checkers are slipping up.

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Postby Perry » Fri Nov 02, 2007 11:05 am

A layman's opinion. Their possessives aren't incorrect. But your
Nicolas Nabokov, a friend of Stravinsky and a cousin of Nabokov
is more elegant.
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Postby melissa » Fri Nov 02, 2007 9:32 pm

Agree, correct but not as elegant.
However, doesn't nineteen-twenties sound seriously old-fashioned? Does to me, but of course it's the New~Yorker. Why not just 1920's?
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Postby sluggo » Fri Nov 02, 2007 10:04 pm

Bnj, I agree with you completely. Seems to me in the phrase "a friend of Stravinsky's", of has already rendered the 's superfluous. I suspect this is idiom that maybe grew out of a friend of mine/his but bad grammar.

(tangent: why isn't it a friend of him instead of his?)

Melissa, I dunno, whether spelled out or numerals is to me just alternate styles but in the latter would far prefer 1920s, being a shameless absolutist about segregation of plurals and apostrophes.

The New York Times and I will continue to butt heads on this until they see the error of their way's. :twisted:


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Postby gailr » Sat Nov 03, 2007 12:09 am

sluggo wrote:(tangent: why isn't it a friend of him instead of his?)

Don't forget this disturbing form:
"In the thick of the group was the composer Nicolas Nabokov, a friend of he and Stravinsky. . . ."

I have met several well-bred and well-educated people who affect this style. :(
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Re: English possessives

Postby gailr » Sat Nov 03, 2007 12:16 am

bnjtokyo wrote:"In the thick of the group was the composer Nicolas Nabokov, a friend of Stravinsky's and a cousin of Vladimir Nabokov's, who had written for Serge Digahilev's Ballets Russes in the nineteen-twenties and then . . . ."

Do you agree with me that the 's on Stravinsky and Nabokov is incorrect?


I hear this as an informal, conversational style, where singular or mass nouns may be saddled with plural esses. as in: "Nicolas saved a bunch on composition paper by buying it in bulk from Walmarts." /shudder/
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Re: English possessives

Postby sluggo » Sat Nov 03, 2007 12:36 am

gailr wrote:... plural esses


:P yessss! another apostrophe avoided!

gailr wrote: as in: "Nicolas saved a bunch on composition paper by buying it in bulk from Walmarts." /shudder/


I assume on hearing this that they mean Wal-Mart's, though without an object for the possessive adjective it's still shudderworthy.

note to admins: why isn't there an emoticon for shudder?
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Re: English possessives

Postby gailr » Sat Nov 03, 2007 12:40 am

sluggo wrote:I assume on hearing this that they mean Wal-Mart's, though without an object for the possessive adjective it's still shudderworthy.

My head is bowed in shame's: I omitted the apostrophe! :oops:
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Postby sluggo » Sat Nov 03, 2007 12:47 am

gailr wrote:Don't forget this disturbing form:
"In the thick of the group was the composer Nicolas Nabokov, a friend of he and Stravinsky. . . ."

I have met several well-bred and well-educated people who affect this style. :(


Aye, and more's the pity.

sluggo wrote:(tangent: why isn't it a friend of him instead of his?)

I'm still seeing this as an extension of friend of mine/of hers/ of his, supposing that friend of me / of him /of her failed to make the team as awkward because we prefer s-possessive and therefore despise the of-possessive construction. Then, having inserted the possessive pronouns mine/his/hers/theirs, we extend in speech to stretch as far as a friend of Stravinsky's from the prior habit. Harmony at the expense of logic.
At least so it seems to I. :?
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Re: English possessives

Postby sluggo » Sat Nov 03, 2007 12:49 am

gailr wrote:
sluggo wrote:I assume on hearing this that they mean Wal-Mart's, though without an object for the possessive adjective it's still shudderworthy.

My head is bowed in shame's: I omitted the apostrophe! :oops:


Thats OK its overused nowaday's anyway's. :lol: We still have a net surplu's.

I call 'em Mall-Warts
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Postby melissa » Fri Nov 30, 2007 2:15 am

would far prefer 1920s


You got me there. Definitely a plural unlike 1's 2's etc. which was drilled into me in math (maths?) class.


buying it in bulk from Walmarts

to me means shopping at more than one of those. Which is not hard, but what is the plural of Starbucks?

I think we all have more than two.
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Postby gailr » Fri Nov 30, 2007 1:20 pm

melissa wrote:Which is not hard, but what is the plural of Starbucks?

From what I've seen here, they tend to occur in clusters. Perhaps Starbucks is a mass noun.
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Postby Perry » Fri Nov 30, 2007 5:01 pm

gailr wrote:
melissa wrote:Which is not hard, but what is the plural of Starbucks?

From what I've seen here, they tend to occur in clusters. Perhaps Starbucks is a mass noun.


I thought that Starbucks is non-denominational...
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Postby sluggo » Sat Dec 01, 2007 12:23 pm

Perry wrote:
gailr wrote:From what I've seen here, they tend to occur in clusters. Perhaps Starbucks is a mass noun.


I thought that Starbucks is non-denominational...

:D
Certainly it's not non-dominational.

My vote is for Starbuckses, unaesthetic as that be, though I'd protest that the singular might should be Starbuck's, depending on how they intended the derivation of their own name, which would render Starbuck'ses. I don't like the looks of that :evil:
It's Tim Horton's all over again.

This is why I drink Peet's. :wink:


gailr wrote: as in: "Nicolas saved a bunch on composition paper by buying it in bulk from Walmarts."


Yes, on second read, it surely works as "in bulk from (some of the) Walmarts", multiple instances of one Mal-War.. uh I mean Wal-Mart.
Unbow thy head, Gailr, I stand corrected :oops:
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Postby gailr » Sat Dec 01, 2007 2:14 pm

Perry wrote:I thought that Starbucks is non-denominational...
:lol:
In theory, yes. However, only those who have accepted the Bean as their Savor can make a True Espresso of Caffaith. Devotees are obligated to receive the Sacrament a latte, though.

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