DCML Digest, Vol 37, Issue 12

Kriton Kyrimis kyrimis at alumni.princeton.edu
Thu Mar 16 08:57:11 CET 2006

> I stand corrected on "Athens" -- etymologically, at least. But the fact 
> that there is no single "Athen" construction in English

I agree with you, in the sense that I'd say that Athens is, say, a city, 
rather than Athens are a city. Just to be pedantic, however, let me point out 
that, in Greek, the singular of Athenai is Athene, the name of the goddess 
after whom the city was named, as it appears in Homer. Thus, one might argue 
that the singular of Athens in English is Athena, the English version of the 
goddess' name. Of course, as it does in Greek, it would refer to something 
completely different.

> Anyway, you still can't form the possessive case in English by simply 
> adding an apostrophe to a noun that already ends in S, unless it's a 
> plural one.

After having read the reference that I quoted previously, I wouldn't be so 
absolute. What you say still seems to me to be a good practice, possibly 
because this is what I was taught way, way back, but, apparently, things have 
changed in the English language in the last ninety years or so. ("The Elements 
of Style" is an old book!)

"You know, I think it's just a matter of putting two and two together to make

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