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

From:Eric Christopherson <rakko@...>
Date:Tuesday, June 10, 2008, 3:12
On Jun 9, 2008, at 11:42 AM, Mark J. Reed wrote:

> On Mon, Jun 9, 2008 at 12:29 PM, Benct Philip Jonsson > <bpj@...> wrote: >> Hiatus is a fourth declension noun >> in Latin. Its English plural is _hiatuses_. >> (why not hiatus-hiatus when series-series?) > > IME, English speakers, as a rule, dislike invariant plurals, and the > direction of language change is toward having fewer of them. The word > "serieses" already gets 55k Ghits... > > And then there's "chassis", whose pronunciation changes in the plural > even though the spelling doesn't... gaaah.
I think I had wondered about that, but never actually looked it up. Somewhat relatedly, the spelling <debuted> annoys me. For some reason it's ok to me to have silent consonants at the ends of words, but not right between vowels. (OTOH, I used to read <buffeted> as /bV"feid/ :)) Also, I've wondered before about the possessive forms of Arkansas and Illinois -- do you use <-s's> or <-s'>? (From Googling, I see that Arkansas passed a resolution last year endorsing <Arkansas's>, overturning a law from 1881; and that <Illinois's> is likewise used. Now imagine that there are two states with <Illinois> or <Arkansas> in their names, like the Dakotas or the Carolinas, and you wanted to spell the plural possessive of one of them. Would you write <the Illinois'> or <the Illinoiss'>? I see that the Wikipedia entry for [[Apostrophe]] says: "For possessive plurals of words ending in silent x, z, or s, the few authorities that address the issue at all call for an added s, and require that the apostrophe precede the s: The Loucheux's homeland is in the Yukon; Compare the two Dumas's literary achievements. As usual in punctuation, the best advice is to respect soundly established practice, and beyond that to strive for simplicity, logic, and especially consistency." That seems wrong to me too, but I suppose that according to that precedent, one could write <the Illinois's> for the plural possessive.


Tristan McLeay <conlang@...>