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