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Saints and their possessions

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Saints and their possessions

Postby Garzo » Sun Nov 01, 2009 10:50 am

I've been wondering about traditional church names in English and how the possessive is used.

For example, the Church of St Mary is usually known as St Mary's Church, and abbreviated to St Mary's. For dedications ending in 's' we tend to use the clipped clitic: St James' Church (although it is often pronounced as if it's St James's). I've noticed that non-saintly dedications do not take the possessive: Holy Trinity Church, Immaculate Conception Church etc. The question is how we should treat the dedications to All Saints or All Hallows. Should we add an apostrophe (All Saints' Church) or not (All Saints Church)? Is the former just fussy?
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Postby Stargzer » Sun Nov 01, 2009 1:56 pm

Garzo!

Imagine talking to a man of the cloth whilst watching "How to Murder Your Wife" on TV! :D

From the examples, it seem's that the possessive is used only with an individual's name, not a collective noun (Trinity, although the Three in One mystery can throw a monkey wrench into that line of thinking), or a title (Immaculate Conception).

Good hearing from you!
Regards//Larry

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Re: Saints and their possessions

Postby Slava » Sun Nov 01, 2009 4:29 pm

Garzo wrote:I've been wondering about traditional church names in English and how the possessive is used.

For example, the Church of St Mary is usually known as St Mary's Church, and abbreviated to St Mary's. For dedications ending in 's' we tend to use the clipped clitic: St James' Church (although it is often pronounced as if it's St James's). I've noticed that non-saintly dedications do not take the possessive: Holy Trinity Church, Immaculate Conception Church etc. The question is how we should treat the dedications to All Saints or All Hallows. Should we add an apostrophe (All Saints' Church) or not (All Saints Church)? Is the former just fussy?

As to using the apostrophe, fussy it may be, but it's probably more correct. Unless it has been turned into an adjective, not a possessive, as in "Mine Workers Union." We don't seem to use the possessive apostrophe for this kind of thing anymore at all.

Another observation regarding punctuation; I notice you don't use a "." after St. I'm expecting this is standard practice, but has it always been thus?
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Postby Garzo » Sun Nov 01, 2009 6:22 pm

What I'm trying to work out is whether All Hallows should be treated like Holy Trinity (without apostrophe when applied to the name of a church) or like St Mary (with the apostrophe).

Concerning abbreviations, it is now fairly standard in Britain to use a full stop after an abbreviation if the last letter of the abbreviation is not the last letter of the full version. Therefore, one would write Rev. John Smith or Revd Jane Smith. Of course, the rule is not always followed, and as far as I can tell writers from the US tend to add the period after all abbreviations.
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