Friday, June 28, 2013

ALOTT5MA FRIDAY GRAMMAR RODEO, PENKNIFE STABBING DIVISION:  From the letters to the editor of the Provincetown Banner, June 27, 2013:
To the editor: 
I tool a walk down Commercial to get a look at the for-sale Norman Mailer house. I was shocked to see the sign on the building that read "Writers Colony." My jaw dropped—I am a militant grammarian—should it not be "Writers' Colony"? The colony is possessed by the writers—you can restate it as "the colony of writers." These quick checks confirm, in my mind, that we are missing an apostrophe and, in all places, in an institution that is dedicated to writing. 
However, I consulted a few of my grammar pals, some of whom are dogmatic when it comes fo following the proper rules of grammar, and I came up with a mixed response. Even "Elements of Style" did not yield a definitive answer. Can someone out there help me? 
A reader who needs an answer,
Roger Marks


  1. MidwestAndrew12:29 AM

    I know for place-names, the apostrophe is dropped by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. But this is a building. There are two possibilities, but I agree that "Writers Colony" is wrong. The first is that it intends possession, in which case "Writers' Colony" should be right. The other possibility is that since colony is already plural, you don't need to pluralize writer. You wouldn't say an ants colony. You'd say ant colony.

  2. JakeMcI2:30 PM

    In the world of organized labor, we usually omit the apostrophe, even if the NYT doesn't. The Teamsters Union, the Laborers Union, and the Ironworkers Union all look and feel better than the teamsters' union, etc.

  3. Megan Elizabeth10:19 PM

    I thought I read this article via a link from this blog, but maybe not.