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Words, Sep. 23


Parker Westbrook writes:

"What is the plural of the modern word condominium? I note that the plural of stadium, according to my most recent copy of Webster's Dictionary (1943!) is stadia. Is the plural of condominium condominia?"

My old Random House, published only slightly more recently than 1943, says the plural is condominiums. The Random House also says that the more common plural of stadium is stadiums, although it lists stadia too. Garner's Modern American Usage offers sound advice on the pluralization of words that were imported into English from other languages: "If in doubt, use the native-English plural ending in –s."

I long wondered whether condominium properly applied to the apartment house or to an individual apartment within. I finally found the energy to look it up. The answer is "both." But it's probably simpler to call an apartment an apartment, whether it's owned or rented.

From the ABA Journal, published by the American Bar Association:

"Three dissenting justices — it used to be four — are breaking with their brethren on the issue of apostrophes.

"Frank Wagner, the soon-to-be-retired reporter of decisions for the Supreme Court, revealed the split in a two-part interview with the National Law Journal. The job of his office includes checking opinions for typos, misspellings, grammatical errors and deviations from Supreme Court rules.

"But there's no use in changing apostrophes of dissenting justices who disagree with the court's prevailing rule on possessives that requires an apostrophe-only after the final 's' in 'Congress.'

"Wagner tells the NLJ that over the years, four justices informed his office that they preferred 'Congress's' and he sees no reason to impose conformity. One of the dissenters has since left the court."

The Arkansas Times generally follows the apostrophe-only rule popularized by the Associated Press, but because the final s in Arkansas is silent, we insist on Arkansas's.

Whose end is up?

"Arkansas has opened as a 2-point underdog over Georgia for Saturday's 11 a.m. Central game."

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