December 30th, 2003

breaking bad

Kind of funny

I am delighted that Mad World was the best selling single in Britain over Christmas.

I know it's traditional for old fogies like me to complain that modern music is rubbish. But the fact is that modern music is not rubbish. It's just that the charts are dominated by heavily-promoted non-music. The singles arising from Pop Idol and the rest are created and sold as the revenue-generating adjunct to expensive marketing of non-personalities.

I can't remember the last time I bought a single at Christmas. I may never have done so. In any case I bought 'Mad World' this year as a present for my teenage son who is a big fan of Donnie Darko. So double hooray.

There is an article by Zoe Williams expressing similar feelings here.
breaking bad

Possession Obsession

I received a copy of 'Eats, Shoots and Leaves' for Christmas. I found it well written, readable, and the punctuation advice to be mild and traditional. Nothing wrong with that.

There was one section in the chapter on the apostrophe that got on my nerves though(*). In particular because I can just imagine future pedants taking it as gospel and criticising all other styles.

The question is the old conundrum: how do you add a possessive to a proper noun which ends in 's'? For example how do you punctuate Miles' transporter room or Legolas's weapon'?

What I do is consult the pronunciation. If I pronounce the end of the word as 'sez'(Legolasez weapon) then I write s's. If I pronounce the end of the word with just a 'z' or 's' (Milez transporter, Tynus face)then I write s'.

However what this book recommends is that we should always (excepting a few archaic uses) punctuate possessives as follows

Jimmy Connors's forehand

Yuck! I hope this doesn't catch on. Much more importantly I hope that people don't start pronouncing possessives like that.

What do you think?

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(*) This reminds me of the line from The Importance of Being Earnest: 'The chapter on the fall of the rupee you may omit; it is somewhat too sensational'