Subject: Re: CVS commit: sharesrc
To: (John Nemeth), Karl Dietz <>
From: John Hawkinson <jhawk@MIT.EDU>
List: current-users
Date: 07/26/2000 08:33:12
I must say, there's nothing quite so pleasant as to wake up
in the morning with a friendly grammar/style debate. It
simply skims the toes and plucks the nose.

In <> John wrote:

|      Since when is the "New York Times Manual of Style and Usage" a
| definitive reference source of correct grammar?  Given how badly the

I believe the English language style in NetBSD is pretty much like
any other sort of style (e.g. C coding style). One should attempt
to stick to the style of the surrounding text, but for issues
upon which /usr/share/misc/style is silent, style is at the
descretion of the author.

I personally use a variety of style guides, and find the above
(Connolly & Siegal) to be reasonable in many cases. In particular, I'm
happy with their apostrophe rule.

| This change is a perfect example, since it is wrong!  The rule is
| that if you are adding "'s" to the end of a word in order to
| indicate possession and the word ends with an "s", then you drop the
| final "s", i.e. the above should be "alias'".

There is considerable debate upon this topic, as you can see from
subsequent messages in this thread (hmm, some of them were private
mail sent to you and I, but not copied to the list).

The quick summary is that the original text was simply incorrect,
and I chose one of a variety of accepted correct solutions, and I
believe that was an emminently reasonable thing to do.

With respect to Connolly & Siegel's rule, they assert that you only
drop the terminal "s" (in an "s's" construction) if the antepenultimate
phoneme is sibilant. (At least, I think that's the copy is
at the office, I'll check later today.)

Karl Deitz, in <> wrote:

/ in my english lessons I have learned that the apostrophe is just for
/ indicating a left out vocale or to indicate possesion (de:

but of course, in this case, we *are* indicating posession, which is
why the apostrophe is present at all. The "alias" posesses the "network

/ Maybe it's easier to use "British English" rules for the apostrophe as
/ "American English" tends to be very lax (lax as in do what you like)
/ in regard to grammer.

I think this will never fly. In general, the Project is somewhat
US-centric, and the majority of users and developers are US-based,
and speak American English. I don't think there would be consensus that
picking British English was correct (not that I think there'd necessarily
be any consensus whatsoever).

Many Americans are "lax" with grammar, but that does not mean American
English is lax. It has flexibilities and variations, but it has
rules. Not knowing or understanding them does not mean they are not
present. It is no less a reasonable standard than British English.

| While you're fixing that,

Thanks for the additional observations. In this case, I observed
plural-instead-of-posessive problem with "aliases" because the
previous revision touched that line, and did not proof the entire
manpage for grammar errors, merely the part that showed up in the diff.

Clearly that was insufficient here. When the discussion dies down
I'll go get those, too.