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More apostrophe confusion

18 replies

melpomene · 31/01/2008 12:43

I just had to write about the addresses of Citizens Advice Bureaux (plural). Should it be "Citizens Advice Bureaux' addresses", or do different rules apply? X followed by an apostrophe doesn't look quite right.

OP posts:
MyEye · 31/01/2008 14:48

Had to bump this. It has been worrying me for two hours.

AMumInScotland · 31/01/2008 14:51

I don't think there's any special rules for plural words that end in an X - it just looks a bit odd .

2sugars · 31/01/2008 14:52

I don't think so either, but I don't know why. Why did you think it should be there?

fryalot · 31/01/2008 14:52

could you not just put "addresses of Citizens' Advice Bureaux"?

scampadoodle · 31/01/2008 14:53

Sorry, can't help - that is a toughie! I reckon it's X apostrophe. But is the plural definitely x? It would be in French but... it looks right though.

AMumInScotland · 31/01/2008 14:58

They certainly use Citizens Advice Bureaux as the plural on their website - I couldn't see any apostrophes though....

missingtheaction · 31/01/2008 15:07

tough one - my vote would be "Citizens Advice Bureaux' addresses", but i admit it looks a bit odd!

Bink · 31/01/2008 15:27

no, I think it should be "Citizens' Advice Bureaux's addresses"

like it should be

the children's clothes
the geese's beaks
the gateaux's imitation creme fillings

MargeSimpsonMyAlterEgo · 31/01/2008 18:47

Bink - surely the x is instead of an s (the problem of course is that it's french) - aren't children & geese different, because the whole word changes? I think its the Bureaux' addresses. Or perhaps it should be the CABs' addresses?

MargeSimpsonMyAlterEgo · 31/01/2008 18:48

oops didn't mean to sound anti-french. I love the language.

Bink · 31/01/2008 20:17

It's specifically addressed - well, mentioned & not-very-committally skirted - in the Wikipedia article on apostrophes, as below:

"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."

It appears that the point Wikipedia's making is about whether the plural signal (the "s" sound) is voiced or not - so if it's silent then you need the extra "'s". I think the point is more simply that possessives of standardly formed plurals that end is "s" take the apostrophe after the "s"; anything else adds "'s". The example given in The Economist style book is "media's" (for instance).

MargeSimpsonMyAlterEgo · 31/01/2008 21:11

I thought that the extra s was only with names (Dumas, Leucheux, Jones) - eg the Jones's car... and then I would pronounce it.

Bink · 31/01/2008 21:39

Do you know, I've never thought how to write a possessive for the Jones family collectively ... we had a thread on here recently about Mr and Mrs Rose, who write reviews together, and how we refer to those - and it seemed to be a good consensus that it was "the Roses' work" ... but what if they had been called Mr and Mrs Peters ... I guess we would write "the Peters's work"

But the rule for bureaux isn't a names rule, it's an ordinary rule about non-standard plural formation (words which just change their ending - bureaux, gateaux, media, verrucae, kibbutzim - being all equally as non-standard (for the purposes of the rule) as children and geese)

missingtheaction · 31/01/2008 21:47

doesn't anyone have a Fowler? i don't, and Lynne Truss doesn't seem to cover it either. Oh dear, I really didn't realise i was such an obsessive.

scampadoodle · 01/02/2008 12:03

I have a feeling that Lynne Truss is pro apostrophe s when the name ends in s but she admits there's no hard or fast rule. DS1's name ends in s & I always write 's with that.

I think either Bink or MargeSimpson are right re Bureaux

legoleia · 01/02/2008 12:06

I don't know my vote is for "Bureaux's"

It just looks more sensible. In my opinion.

legoleia · 01/02/2008 12:08

Decides to leave pedants' corner due to the quite shocking grammar in my last post. And starting a sentence with "But". And not having a capital letter for my name.

Will come back to check though, when truly qualified pedant comes along to settle the case!

scampadoodle · 01/02/2008 12:10

But legoleia, it's perfectly correct to begin a sentence with 'but'; it's merely a matter of taste. In my opinion.

Don't leave! We pedants must stick together!

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