April 16th, 2008
Dr. Seuss'? Bridget Jones's? / tolerancy / myself
by Barbara Wallraff
Michael Onesi, of Kingston, Ontario, writes: “Hollywood has me confused about the use of ‘’s’ following a name that ends with ‘s.’ ‘Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who’ is now playing in theatres. The punctuation of this title conflicts with the name of a hit movie from a few years ago, ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary.’ Who is right? Should it be ‘Dr. Seuss’s’ or ‘Bridget Jones’’?”
Dear Michael: No matter what I tell you, some authorities will call me wrong. The Associated Press Stylebook, which most newspapers follow, says that to make a possessive out of a singular name that ends in “s,” you shouldn’t add anything more than an apostrophe -- so ’” and “Jones’.” But the Chicago Manual of Style, which many book publishers follow, says it’s better to add an “s” as well -- so “Seuss’s” and “Jones’s.”
Eamon Winston, of Monterey, Calif., writes: “Is ‘tolerancy’ a word? If so, is it interchangeable with ‘tolerant,’ or would it be used in a different context?”
Dear Eamon: No, it’s not a word -- but that doesn’t stop people from using it. You can easily find it on the Internet. I’ll thank you, though, not to perform this search. I just did, and an online dictionary told me it didn’t have a definition for “tolerancy,” but it was “increasing the priority” for the word because I was looking for it. Never mind that I’m not sure what that message means -- I don’t like the sound of it.
Sandy Regan, of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., writes: “‘Please join Bob and me in welcoming Ted’ or ‘... Bob and myself’? My dictionary says ‘myself’ is used as an intensifier of ‘me’ or a reflexive substitute for ‘me’: ‘I burned myself.’ It seems that people don’t like to use ‘me.’”
Dear Sandy: I tried to explain that to Ira Glass, who always ends his radio program, “This American Life,” by announcing that the episode was produced by somebody or other “and myself” -- but I didn’t get anywhere. Sigh.
© Copyright 2003 by Barbara Wallraff. Reprints require prior permission. All rights reserved.