Friday, June 15, 2007

Possessed

You'll see this sort of thing a lot:
Several Hollywood stars are supporting Sen. Barack Obama's, D-Ill., campaign.
Well, no. Sen. Barack Obama is an Illinois Democrat. Sen. Barack Obama's is a possessive. Recast, please.

10 comments:

Skullturf Q. Beavispants said...

This is a little reminiscent of how in casual speech we sometimes find ourselves saying things like "This guy whose lawn I used to mow's dog is half German Shepherd."

You'd say it in a conversation, but in published material, you should probably rework the sentence.

Tina Russell said...

My third-grade teacher taught me this (and I'm probably the only person in that class who remembers it): it's "German shepherd," not "German Shepherd." Names of dog breeds--pit bull, dalmatian, laborador--are not capitalized, but the word "German" is since it refers to a country. So, we say German shepherd, Siberian husky, etc. when referring to those dogs.

Sorry, I know you probably know that already, I just want to make sure everyone knows this...

Jackie said...

I don't know about the origin of the name "pit bull," but Dalmanians are named for Dalmatia (a Croatin province), and Labradors for Labrador (the Newfoundland and Labrador province of Canada). They get capitals.

Garner does have an entry on "Dalmatian," if you're interested.

Doug Fisher said...
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Doug Fisher said...

Oh yuck. Robo-writing (or editing) stikes again.

How many times (and one is too many) have I see students and pros change copy like:
Sen. Bob Belfry's bill would do ... The Edgartown Democrat said ...

To:
The bill by Sen. Bob Belfry, D-Edgartown. ...
Belfry said ...

The only cure may be to get a big red RTEFE stamp for the top of the "party affiliation" entry in AP. It even counsels moderation and shows the xxx Democrat form.

Peter Fisk said...
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Peter Fisk said...

Well, Doug, I'd give at least partial credit to those students and pros then. They did recognize that there was a problem that needed to be fixed. As a reader, I hate running into the clumsy old jam-information-into-ambiguous-synonyms crutch. … The Edgartown Democrat – that’s the name of some small-town newspaper, right? So that newspaper ran an editorial in support of the senator’s bill?

The irrational fear of using the same word twice leads to bad writing habits. It's OK, and in fact preferable, to mention the senator's name again.

Something like this works fine: "Belfry, a Democrat from Edgartown, said ..."

The other method is like apposition that's hideously stretched out of shape, often beyond comprehension.

MuPu said...

Several Hollywood stars are supporting the campaign of presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

Several Hollywood stars are supporting presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

Several Hollywood stars are supporting the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

The Truth Hurts said...

I was having more trouble discerning what "Ill" meant in Ariel font than the construction of the sentence. It looks like D-Roman numeral three.

Dan Robrish said...

What does "RTEFE" mean?