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Say yes to the s



Keeping up with the Jones:

Under the headline, "Lunch with the Bumpers," a columnist wrote of spending time with former U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers and his wife, Betty. "Thinking back, I realize I would never have had the opportunity to know the Bumpers well had I not essentially been forced to move to the East Coast ..."

Together, Dale and Betty Bumpers are the Bumperses. When making plurals of names that end in –s, the standard rule is to add –es: Harris, Harrises; Simmons, Simmonses. If the writer wanted to use a possessive, he'd write "The Bumperses' hospitality is famous." That is, if he followed the Associated Press style, and most media do, of adding only an apostrophe to form the possessive of names that end with –s. Some old-timers, who shall remain anonymous, learned in long-ago classrooms to add an apostrophe and an –s to form all possessives. These people would write "The Bumperses's hospitality is famous," despite all the hissiness.

The Arkansas Times follows the AP style on possessives with one large exception. Because the last –s in Arkansas is silent, and a possessive needs an –s sound, the correct possessive form of Arkansas is Arkansas's, not Arkansas'. This was the way of the legendary old Arkansas Gazette. It is the way of Parker Westbrook, acknowledged as the foremost authority on this point. It was probably the way of the Indians. They were better grammarians than the white men gave them credit for.

Foist by his own petard:

In a rather sharp critique of a state lawmaker, a blogger writes "State Representative Loy Mauch believes public education is a socialist plot hoisted on the South." Mr. Mauch is a man of strange beliefs, all right, but I think the writer intended to use foisted rather than hoisted. To hoist is "to raise or lift." To foist is "to force upon fraudulently or unjustifiably."

Not-so-magnificent counting:

"Yul Brynner (from left), Steve McQueen, Horst Bucholz, Charles Bronson and Robert Vaughn are four of The Magnificent Seven."

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