Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Some rock’s

On brisk treks that take us through a nearby subdivision (three-mile treks, exactly), Elaine and I have noticed some rocks of a kind not found in nature: large slabs proclaiming glory, as if a household were a bank or investment firm. The slabs stand in front yards and read like so:


Est. 20__
The date varies. But that apostrophe? Every slab has one. Ouch. Garner’s Modern American Usage explains:
Although few books on grammar mention the point, proper names often cause problems as plurals. The rule is simple: most take a simple -s, while those ending in -s, -x, or -z, or in a sibilant -ch or -sh, take -es.
The householder’s apostrophe, as I will call it, is a common sight on mailboxes or small woodburned signs. There it looks homemade, quaint. On mighty slabs, it looks farcical.

Householders, if you must proclaim your glory to the passerby, think of the way bands manage their names: The Beatles. Or better: The Smiths. Plural, not possessive.

Other posts, other rocks
Some rocks : Zippy : Zippy : Zippy : Zippy : Zippy : Lassie and Zippy : Conversational rocks

[“Some rocks” is a minor Orange Crate Art preoccupation that has developed from my affection for Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy and Bill Griffith’s Zippy.]

comments: 3

Fresca said...

Would it be fun get a rock in front of your house with the rule about plurals from _Garner’s Modern American Usage_ carved on it?!
But you'd need to explain plural possessives too--if people are really trying to say "This Is the House of the Does" (The Does')?

Michael Leddy said...

That’d be a lot of chisel work. :)

Fresca said...