Poll re: English plural form's

General discussion about learning languages

How is the plural of “word” correctly written in current English?

Poll runs till Fri Aug 30, 2019 4:20 pm

"words"
28
76%
"word's"
0
No votes
both "words" and "word's"
0
No votes
whatever manner in which native English speakers write it is thereby necessarily correct, so "words" "word's" and "wurds" are all correctly written
1
3%
I decline to select one of the above options, as I sense this is just a prelude to a rant by the OP, to be followed by an unproductive forum war between prescriptivists and descriptivist's.
8
22%
 
Total votes: 37

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lavengro
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Poll re: English plural form's

Postby lavengro » Thu Aug 15, 2019 4:20 pm

Scientific poll attached.
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Re: Poll re: English plural form's

Postby Deinonysus » Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:06 pm

Nobody can make mistakes speaking their own native dialect. But written language is not inborn the way speech is. Nobody speaks a writing system natively. Instead, a mature writing system will be based on a standard, or one of several competing standards.

In no generally accepted standard for written standard English is "word's" the plural of "word". Although this is a common error by native speakers, it can be considered an error because writing systems are not the same as dialects. There can be dialectical differences that cannot be called errors, but there will be finite acceptable ways of spelling dialectical variants. "Ain't" is not a mistake, but "ey'nt'e" is.

Edit: I think I was right about the "greengrocer's s" being a mistake, but for the wrong reasons. It isn't because of a fundamental difference between writing and speech, but rather because the plural apostrophe is a hypercorrection, not a rule. See below.
Last edited by Deinonysus on Fri Aug 16, 2019 1:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Poll re: English plural form's

Postby Speakeasy » Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:20 pm

First, I recommend that this poll permit selecting at least one of the first four options PLUS the final option restated as: "to be followed by an unproductive forum war between prescriptivists and descriptivist's."

Second, I would point out that either the pollster has a bias (there's nothing wrong here, we all do) for English plurals as "apostrophe + s", or he is playing with us by deliberately using both formulations in his fifth option as: "... prescriptivists and descriptivist's" :mrgreen:
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Re: Poll re: English plural form's

Postby lavengro » Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:50 pm

Deinonysus wrote:Nobody can make mistakes speaking their own native dialect. But written language is not inborn the way speech is. Nobody speaks a writing system natively. Instead, a mature writing system will be based on a standard, or one of several competing standards.

In no generally accepted standard for written standard English is "word's" the plural of "word". Although this is a common error by native speakers, it can be considered an error because writing systems are not the same as dialects. There can be dialectical differences that cannot be called errors, but there will be finite acceptable ways of spelling dialectical variants. "Ain't" is not a mistake, but "ey'nt'e" is.

Thank you Deinonysus, that is one of the most helpful framing of the issue I have encountered.

I increasingly see the incorrect manner of written pluralization ("word's") popping up all over the place. For a Canadian (BC) context: "The local police are saddened to report that some goober got himself eaten all up by two bear's, or perhaps by three bear's".

I make simple misteaks al the time, and I don't think I am at all an overly-critical person when others also do. But on occasion when I have suggested the written pluralization forum using an apostrophe is wrong, I have gotten flak from descriptivists who earnestly argue that it is wrong for me to say such a heretic thing, provided the written text is from a native speaker. And then I start yelling and well, eventually the police get called (unless they are still cleaning up the bear attack scene).
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Re: Poll re: English plural form's

Postby lavengro » Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:58 pm

Speakeasy wrote:First, I recommend that this poll permit selecting at least one of the first four options PLUS the final option restated as: "to be followed by an unproductive forum war between prescriptivists and descriptivist's."

Second, I would point out that either the pollster has a bias (there's nothing wrong here, we all do) for English plurals as "apostrophe + s", or he is playing with us by deliberately using both formulations in his fifth option as: "... prescriptivists and descriptivist's" :mrgreen:

I entirely agree on both of your points.

Concerning the first point, I myself voted for the final option (but then again, I had inside information).

Concerning the second, oh you bet I have a bias! But it is decidedly not in favour of throwing in an incorrect apostrophe for plurals - see above response to Deinonysus.

I sometimes have dreams where I am being driven around the world with the Queen of the United Kingdom and we jointly give a lecture to those attempting to defend obvious errors or to otherwise subvert the English language. If it were up to me (and sadly it is not), the English language would have crystalized permanently around the time Francis Bacon was writing all those Shakespeare plays.
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Re: Poll re: English plural form's

Postby Serpent » Thu Aug 15, 2019 7:02 pm

lavengro wrote:But on occasion when I have suggested the written pluralization forum using an apostrophe is wrong, I have gotten flak from descriptivists who earnestly argue that it is wrong for me to say such a heretic thing, provided the written text is from a native speaker.
Are you sure it was about written text?
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Re: Poll re: English plural form's

Postby Deinonysus » Thu Aug 15, 2019 7:06 pm

lavengro wrote:Thank you Deinonysus, that is one of the most helpful framing of the issue I have encountered.

I increasingly see the incorrect manner of written pluralization ("word's") popping up all over the place. For a Canadian (BC) context: "The local police are saddened to report that some goober got himself eaten all up by two bear's, or perhaps by three bear's".

I make simple misteaks al the time, and I don't think I am at all an overly-critical person when others also do. But on occasion when I have suggested the written pluralization forum using an apostrophe is wrong, I have gotten flak from descriptivists who earnestly argue that it is wrong for me to say such a heretic thing, provided the written text is from a native speaker. And then I start yelling and well, eventually the police get called (unless they are still cleaning up the bear attack scene).
I lean heavily towards descriptivism myself. Speech is a natural, spontaneous thing that humans generate naturally (see: Stephen Pinker's The Language Instinct). Writing, however, is very recent invention, and it is no more than a tool that is intended to accurately represent speech; it is not an inherent part of a person's mind the way their native language is.

Ðat rimī̩ndz mē ov a þăt Ī had ƕīl Ī woz rēdiŋ Flŏ·rz for Alj·rnon. Cårlʏ'z lō inte̩lij·ns woz reprize̩ntid bī frēq·nt misspe̩liŋz. Hŏe̩v·r, hē sēmd to̊ und·rsta̩nd ðe jen·r·l speliŋ ro̊lz ov Iŋgliʃ qīt wel, and evrʏþiŋ hē rōt woz an akūrit reprizentā̩ʃ·n ov fārlʏ stand·rd dī·lekt·l spēc. Cårlʏ'z ōnlʏ iʃū woz ðat hē hat trub·l rime̩mb·riŋ ƕic ov ăl posib·l speliŋz woz ðe stand·rd wun. Ðis woz not a fālūr on Cårlʏ'z pårt, but a fālūr ov ðe ridi̩kūl·s Iŋgliʃ speliŋ sist·m. Hē wʊd not hav mād ðēz mistā̩ks in a laŋgw·j wiþ a bet·r speliŋ sist·m, suc az Spaniʃ. In fakt, it must hav bēn a cal·nj to̊ tranzlāt ðe bʊk into̊ Spaniʃ, ƕic haz wun ov ðe best speliŋ sist·mz Ī'm ·wār ov.
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Re: Poll re: English plural form's

Postby lavengro » Thu Aug 15, 2019 7:11 pm

Serpent wrote:
lavengro wrote:But on occasion when I have suggested the written pluralization forum using an apostrophe is wrong, I have gotten flak from descriptivists who earnestly argue that it is wrong for me to say such a heretic thing, provided the written text is from a native speaker.
Are you sure it was about written text?

Hi Serpent,

Yep, it was squarely about written language in the context of written media and written social media.
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"I talk a lot. So I've learned to just tune myself out."
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lavengro
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Re: Poll re: English plural form's

Postby lavengro » Thu Aug 15, 2019 7:12 pm

Deinonysus wrote:
Ðat rimī̩ndz mē ov a þăt Ī had ƕīl Ī woz rēdiŋ Flŏ·rz for Alj·rnon. Cårlʏ'z lō inte̩lij·ns woz reprize̩ntid bī frēq·nt misspe̩liŋz. Hŏe̩v·r, hē sēmd to̊ und·rsta̩nd ðe jen·r·l speliŋ ro̊lz ov Iŋgliʃ qīt wel, and evrʏþiŋ hē rōt woz an akūrit reprizentā̩ʃ·n ov fārlʏ stand·rd dī·lekt·l spēc. Cårlʏ'z ōnlʏ iʃū woz ðat hē hat trub·l rime̩mb·riŋ ƕic ov ăl posib·l speliŋz woz ðe stand·rd wun. Ðis woz not a fālūr on Cårlʏ'z pårt, but a fālūr ov ðe ridi̩kūl·s Iŋgliʃ speliŋ sist·m. Hē wʊd not hav mād ðēz mistā̩ks in a laŋgw·j wiþ a bet·r speliŋ sist·m, suc az Spaniʃ. In fakt, it must hav bēn a cal·nj to̊ tranzlāt ðe bʊk into̊ Spaniʃ, ƕic haz wun ov ðe best speliŋ sist·mz Ī'm ·wār ov.

It's been some years, but I recall loving Flŏ·rz for Alj·rnon.
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Italian : 156 / 330
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Re: Poll re: English plural form's

Postby SCMT » Thu Aug 15, 2019 7:15 pm

I don't know what a "descriptivist" is, but words is the correct plural form of word and word's is not.

The apostrophe in word's denotes possession, such as in "the word's spelling is unusual," or possibly some unusual truncation of "word is."
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