Friday, December 28, 2012

Presidents Vs. Veterans

In the latest issue of the city newsletter that came in the garbage (see yesterday's post), a list of federal holidays is printed.  I found it interesting that "Presidents' Day" was listed with an apostrophe and "Veterans Day" was not.

Yes, I like language.  Those of you who don't should probably stop reading now.  It's just going to be more of the type of stuff that people who find apostrophes interesting will find, um, interesting.

Indeed, the line between an adjective modifying a noun making up a proper name and a noun containing a possessive making up a proper noun is pretty thin, and I'm not sure there is a good guide to distinguishing between the two.  It doesn't help that in spoken language, both "Presidents Day" and "Presidents' Day" would sound exactly the same.

Before we get into a discussion based on social hierarchy with "Presidents'" being possessive because presidents are considered more important than veterans, it's probably helpful to point out that the actual name of "Presidents' Day" or "Presidents Day" or "President Day" or "We Don't Have A Bloody King But We'll Act Like The President Is One And Have A Day Named After The President Day" or whatever you call it isn't actually any of those.

It's "Washington's Birthday."

That's probably where the apostrophe comes from.      

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