Wednesday, April 8, 2009

HUMP DAY GRAMMAR for April 8, 2009

So last night, I was trying to find something to use for this week's installment of Hump Day Grammar. First I put up a message on Facebook announcing that I was looking for a Hump Day Grammar submission, and then I found an article that included a sentence that mentioned what may or may not be the correct possessive form of the word penis. So then I was stumped--I was trying to research whether it would be penis's or penis', and so I sent out a bunch of messages to various friends asking them for their opinion on this extremely important topic. (None of my friends seemed particularly surprised that I was messaging them around midnight to ask what the possessive form of "penis" is. Hmmm...) Everyone else seemed just as unsure about the possessive form of "penis" as I was (one friend noted that if we're going by AP style, it should probably be penis', but also acknowledged that it looked/seemed better as penis's, and my other friends and I also shared the opinion that penis's just looked the most right).

Luckily, though, before I was forced to actually find out the correct answer to this question, I got another Hump Day Grammar submission that is much more clever than anything involving the possessive form of "penis." PETER saw my cry for Hump Day help on Facebook and responded with an article that definitely fit the Hump Day bill. I mean, it is, after all, concerning humps. Large humps.

Behold the most clever, yet most innocent, Hump Day Grammar post to date--



My favorite part of the article is the bottom paragraph shown here. They make it sound like a camel's hump gets erectile dysfunction. Apparently the camel's natural resiliency acts as its own special form of Viagra. Good deal!

And on that note, we're back on the topic of penis. Dear readers, what do you think the possessive form of "penis" is? Sound off in the Comments section below...an inquiring (and rather stumped) Grammarphile wants to know your thoughts on this matter!

Special thanks to PETER for finding this amusing picture, and also thank you to all my friends who got random penis-related messages from me last night!

18 comments:

LadyStyx said...

Well the good news is, when I ran it past the spell-checker in Blogger...both were accepted versions of the possessive form of the word.

As for the camels, I suspect that their grazing lands were fertilized by Pfizer....

THE GRAMMARPHILE said...

Yeah, I noticed that, too! Are both forms OK? If so, I wonder which is better... :)

The Punctuator said...

"penis's" just seems right. After all, it's not a plural. You wouldn't say "Amos' car", would you? Or would you? Now I'm confused.

THE GRAMMARPHILE said...

When I start to overthink it, I get confused, too. So I have no idea! The Grammarphile is stumped! :)

Bridgete said...

I think penis's seems more right.

THE GRAMMARPHILE said...

That's my gut instinct, too...

J. Alfred Proofreader said...

Grammarphile, great question. I believe both penis' and penis's are correct, however the decision to use one over the other is usually a matter of a publication's style.

As you can see in this 2005 article, The New York Times prefers "penis's."

THE GRAMMARPHILE said...

Thanks, Proofreader! :)

It's good to know that both ways seem to be right and that it's just a matter of publication style/personal preference. And I, too, would write it like the NYT did!

ChicagoLady said...

I found the following on a grammar website. You can take it with a grain of salt, as it's not an official ruling.

"(Some authorities feel that only an apostrophe is needed when the noun ends in "s." That works okay for written material, but if you say it, you must say the extra "s" sound; therefore, I feel that the "s" is necessary in written material also.)"

For some reason, I remember being taught that if the noun ends in "s" you just add the apostrophe for the possessive form. I've been doing it that way all my life.

THE GRAMMARPHILE said...

I've heard/seen that rule, too. I just think that applying that rule looks really bizarre in this case... :)

Winona said...

While I hate the way the s's looks, it's probably more correct than s' (I guess I go for the minimalist yet accurate method for grammar).

THE GRAMMARPHILE said...

I'm not fond of the way either form of the possessive looks, but my gut keeps telling me to go with s's. (This is a tricky question!)

Ray Gunn said...

The Chicago Manual of Style also prefers "penis's." Not explicity, unfortunately, but by general edict.

Interestingly, the only nouns that can get away without using that final "s" are names from antiquity that are pronounced -EEZ: Xerxes', Achilles', Sophocles'...

Also Jesus can do without. Because, well, he's Jesus and doesn't need anything extra.

THE GRAMMARPHILE said...

Great comment, Ray!

I have to say I'm relieved that my gut feeling on this topic matches The Chicago Manual of Style's verdict. :) I'd be a lousy Grammarphile if I had crappy grammar instincts, y'know?

Also--interesting point regarding the names from antiquity. I had no idea! :)

Dave said...

Discussion of this topic has been long overdue...a very appropriate post for Wednesday! Borat would be very excite. I mean how often do you get camels, humps, and penis's in the same blog?

THE GRAMMARPHILE said...

@ Dave: Borat would have REALLY been "excite" if I'd managed to slip in something about *his sister* and *gypsy tears* along with all the other fun stuff I discussed in this post! :)

Ray Gunn said...

Yikes. And I meant "explicitly." Shame on me.

"Explicity" sounds like a new reality show about prostitutes.

Hm...where's my contact info for the people at HBO?

THE GRAMMARPHILE said...

Ha! I'm thinking that would be quite a popular show if it existed!

(The typos happen to the best of us. And thank goodness I re-read that line, because it almost said "The typos happen to the est of us." D'oh!) :)