Subject: possessive (?) "s" and other language stuff
Date: Apr 26 15:37:00 1995
From: Hal Opperman - halop at

It wasn't too many years ago that "correct" usage -- blessed by the AOU --
was not to use a terminal "s" at all for birds named after people. Townsend
Warbler, Steller Jay, etc. Personally I think the addition of the
apostrophe and the "s" is fine. It's certainly grammatically correct and,
as David Wright pointed out, doesn't indicate ownership, just recognition --
a milestone not in the history of bird life, but in our understanding of it.
But if it does bother some people, then going back to no "s" at all is
surely an option. Keeping the "s" but removing the apostrophe *would* annoy
me (and anybody else who's struggled futilely to teach students the
difference between it's and its, or who's and whose).

One final knot (small "k") on the "to have" thread. Russell's Whimbrel
comments are right on. Language is used differently by different cultures
for different purposes. What would the art, and literature, and music on
birds be like if it were all written, drawn or composed by ornithologists?

Hal Opperman
halop at