Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Nov 8 14:20:24 UTC 2011

The given order looks reasonable to me too, but I can't say that I've
ever had to deal with just this problem.


On Tue, Nov 8, 2011 at 9:10 AM, Charles C Doyle <cdoyle at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Charles C Doyle <cdoyle at UGA.EDU>
> Subject:      Alphabetizing
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Yesterday my daughter-in-law called me with a question about my third-grader grandson's homework.  The assignment was to alphabetize a list of words, and the list included the four items girl/girl's/girls/girls'.  (My daughter-in-law made clear than both the academic career of my grandson and the family's standing in the community were at stake, since the parents of the other third-graders were also depending on my answer.)
> I failed.  I could tell her that there exist various styles of alphabetizing, that certain traditional "rules" obtain, one of which is "Ignore apostrophes"--but the rules I am aware of don't fully address the case at hand.  I could tell her that if the Microsoft Corporation is asked to "sort" the words alphabetically, they will appear in the order in which I have listed them above, which seems reasonable--but not, as far as I can determine, "authoritative."
> Any suggestions?  (I don’t recall that third grade used to be this hard!)
> Ironically, my grandson's generation probably won't even need to know about alphabetical order, since their dictionaries, phone books, library catalogs, and indexes will all be digitized.
> --Charlie
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