Python is better than free (was Re: GNU wars again)

Paul Boddie paul at
Tue Oct 9 11:18:24 CEST 2001

Joshua Macy <l0819m0v0smfm001 at> wrote in message news:<3BBF2751.3010309 at>...
>   OK, I will. Strunk & White is fine, and I use it myself, but the use 
> of the possessive apostrophe is, and has always been highly contentious. 

Who are these Strunk and White people anyway? (Serious question - I
assume it's an American English style manual people keep referring to,
or something, but I can't be bothered to search for it.) They must be
rich by now, though. ;-)

>   According to The Oxford Companion to the English Language:
>   "...there appears from the evidence that there was never a golden age 
> in in which the rules for the use of the possessive apostrophe in 
> English were clear-cut and known, understood, and followed by most 
> educated people...


This sounds very familiar. I was once so motivated to consult the
various authoritative texts on this subject myself, and the most
honest ones seemed to admit that the apostrophe is something
introduced into the English language as an additional feature - rather
like list comprehensions and Python, I suppose ;-) - and that one
likely source is French, which doesn't even use the apostrophe to
indicate possession. Perhaps some users of English liked some aspects
of the ways that French used it and then adapted it later to suit
other purposes.

Mr Hetland will possibly confirm that once upon a time English looked
more similar to his native language in the way it presented possession
(just add an "s" and forget about strange symbols), but the apostrophe
as possession indicator seems to want to conquer other languages too.

> and-if-it's-good-enough-for-Moses-it's-good-enough-for-Tim-Peters-<wink>-ly 

Moses is to the Bible what Tim Peters is to Strunk and White (or
should it be the other way round?)-ly,


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