[Ads-l] Possessive plurals

Thu Jun 1 14:25:23 UTC 2023

As to the latter, it’s common enough that Merriam-Webster.com says, “The plural incidences sometimes occurs in such contexts as “several recent incidences of crime,” but this use is often criticized as incorrect.”  American Heritage also discusses this use and rejects it.

Note that there are unquestionably correct uses of “incidences,” as in the incidences of two or more diseases.

John Baker

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> On Behalf Of Ben Yagoda
Sent: Thursday, June 1, 2023 9:32 AM
Subject: Re: Possessive plurals

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This reminds me of two things. First, a pleonastic possessive I’ve been noticing for five or six years: rendering the possessive of “you guys” as “your guys'.” (I’ve mostly heard in in speech, but I imagine in print an apostrophe would come after the s, as I’ve written it.) First heard it on “Car Talk,” when a caller asked for “your guys’ opinion.” My guess is that it stemmed partly from the fact that “you guys’” sounds the same as “you guys,” unless you go for the awkward extra syllable (as in Jonathan’s example” “you guyzez.”

The second thing that comes to mind is something I’ve heard a few times recently: pronouncing the plural “incidents” as “incidences.”


www.benyagoda.com<http://www.benyagoda.com> <http://www.benyagoda.com/<http://www.benyagoda.com>>
> Date: Wed, 31 May 2023 12:02:18 -0400
> From: Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM<mailto:wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>>
> Subject: Possessive plurals
> I've been watching these Latin lessons on YouTube:
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWUlrL6E_QU<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWUlrL6E_QU>
> The instructor (a native speaker of English evidently, and
> youthful-sounding) is clearly well educated, and he knows Latin.
> However, he says "abLAYtive" instead of "ABlative." He also talks about
> "female," "male," and "neutral" nouns instead of masculine, feminine, and
> neuter. More to the point, though, he routinely pronounces English
> possessive plurals with an excrescent "iz."
> Exx: students' > "studentsiz"
> soldiers' > "soldierziz."
> Is this something we should be doing? Or is it just a pedagogical stratagem?
> JL
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
> ------------------------------------------------------------

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