Sunday, September 17, 2006


My great chum Thersites appears to have become confused:
As a business I'm sure the proprietors would prefer Dogs' Delight to Dog's Delight but any usage of the apostrophe would do, unfortunately there is not a grocer nearby to donate one.

Quite why the third person plural form of a perfectly innocent and unconspicuous transitive verb should require its subject to have an apostrophe I feel unqualified to say.

That he should have been able to entice His Excellency the former High Commissioner of Australia to subscribe this particular outbreak of grammatical wrongheadedness is a mystery of sufficient magnitude that one worries if there is some sort of conspiracy afoot.

Whilst we are about it, I'm not convinced that a comma is correct between "do" and "unfortunately" in the quoted sentence above: I suspect one needs a colon at the very least.

P-G Verdict: Stay behind at playtime, young Thersites. A few more latin participles wouldn't go amiss.


Brian B. said...

You do me much too much honour, Pedant-General. I am neither my Excellency nor a high commissioner: and when I was a high commissioner, it was to, not of, Australia (the high commissioner of Australia is an Australian, unlike me). As for your great chum Dr Thersites, I declare him Not Guilty of your imputations. If 'Dogs Delight' could credibly be parsed as you suggest, the verb 'delight' would be intransitive, not transitive: if transitive, it would demand an object (such as "their owners", or "postmen"). But anyway it's obviously not a verb at all, but a noun, and 'Dogs' does indeed need an apostrophe.

Your attack on Thersites's rogue comma is however fully warranted, as you would expect since it has been plagiarised from my own comment on his blog -- which you show you have read! The damning evidence is at


dearieme said...

semi-colon, surely?

james higham said...

P-G, I'm sure by 'unconspicuous', you meant 'inconspicuous'. Just a typo, I'm certain.

james higham said...

...would do, unfortunately...

No, not a colon but a semi-colon.

james higham said...

Er ... how does one reach Thersites? You don't appear to link.

The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a post on pedantry contains at least two errors of equal or similar magnitude to that supposed addressed in the post itself.



I considered "to", but for some reason didn't follow through. Just be grateful that I didn't label you as a commissar....

As for the comma plagiarism, I shall plead "great minds....". In fact, I shall also plead laziness as I hadn't read all of your comment and so hadn't spotted that you had already nailed this.

And I refute your defence of Thersite re the transitiveness (transitivity?) of the verb: the lack of the object does not an intransitive verb make. The object is assumed by the reader (or not as the case so evidently appears to be).

I think we'll call that a "score draw" between the combined might of the FCO alumni and your humble Pedant-General.


dearieme and James,

I think I am going to have to concede this point.

Never let it be said that your just and merciful Pedant-General is anything other than gracious in defeat.


Any more smart alec spellchecking and you'll be barred.

Besides, thicko, you haven't even read the post. It's hooching with links to Thersites.

Ooh, and while we're about it, our word of the day seems pretty spot on:

wdrurgts: noun. Answer to the question "Exactly what are you smoking, James?"

Lord Pasternack said...

Call me sad or morbid, but I saw humour in this.

In reaction to the Pope possibly implying that Islam is a violent religion: This.

Who you callin' fuckin' violent?!

I love it...

Thersites said...

[In detention & wondering what to do with a latin participle]

Can I go now PG?

dearieme said...

All agreed, chaps? The PG need some semi-colonic irrigation.

Brian B. said...

I think it can fairly be called a draw, as suggested. Just a pity about that misuse of 'refute' (= disprove) where 'reject' or 'refuse to accept' was intended. Even 'rebut' could have been defended, at a pinch...

(This could run and run.)