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Re: OT: Silent last letters, pluralization, and possessive formation in English (was Re: Langmaker down since January?)

From:Tristan McLeay <conlang@...>
Date:Tuesday, June 10, 2008, 13:25
On 10/06/08 23:03:26, Eugene Oh wrote:
> If I said "my hair is black" it doesn't imply that your hair isn't. > It > very > well could be.
Indeed, but it implies that other people can have differently colored hair. How often do people say "when I bleed, my blood is red" (except rhetorically)? how often do people say "my nose has two nostrils"? When we state things, we always imply other things by what we say. Otherwise we'd never be able to decide what to say.
> Whether the article mentions t's or r's or gh's is out of point. The > reason > why those three deserve special mention is that they are sibilant > when > pronounced and hence traditionally have had variant rules. So when > they're > not pronounced (i.e. no longer sibilant), do those rules, formulated > for a > sibilant context, apply?
Precisely --- those three don't deserve special mention (only one does), yet you've been misled into thinking they do because of how they're presented. They've mentioned three implying that in the default case, they have variant rules, but *they don't*. In no case can you spell words ending in x or z with a blank apostrophe for the possessive. "Box'" or "jazz'" are simply wrong. So there's no reason to mention them. An exception to a special rule cannot apply, because there is no special rule. x and z are no more special than t and r in *any* case. Now in terms of phonetics, of course, "box", "dress", "jazz", "dish", "catch", "judge", "justice" all apply a special-case rule, but phonetics is irrelevant because we don't pronounce apostrophes in any case. And the rule ignores many other possible special cases. The fact is, in terms of the rules of English orthography, "x z s" do not form a natural set wrt apostrophe rules. "t r h x z p k ..." (well, anything other than "s") do. -- Tristan.