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Evolution of apostrophe as possessive.

 
 
Equus
 
Reply Mon 23 Jun, 2003 02:57 pm
I heard somewhere - or dreamt it - this explanation of why an apostrophe and s are used in English to denote possession. Can anyone confirm or refute?

Once upon a time, possession was indicated by "his" only. So you would say, "John his horse" instead of "John's horse" or "John his children" instead of "John's children". Apostrophe s was really a contraction of the word 'his'. Since women weren't considered to own property in that time, there was no corresponding apostrophe r: "Jane her children" becoming "Jane'r children."
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jun, 2003 03:18 pm
That is a common explanation and it's false, if I remember correctly.

What I heard is that the apostrophe is replacing an "e". Much in the way the apostrophe is used in other cases.
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Wy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Jun, 2003 07:20 pm
Craven's right (as usual) -- here's a link with an explanation. Scroll down to HISTORY and you'll find it.

http://www.alt-usage-english.org/excerpts/fxwheret.html
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Merry Andrew
 
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Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2003 03:00 pm
Good stuff, Wy. Thanx.
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