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"translators associations" or "translators' associations" ?
Thread poster: Tom in London

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:36
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Dec 7, 2008

- or am I losing it? In my linguistic world a possessive plural is always followed by an apostrophe. There are very good reasons for this.

This being a translators' website, and not a translators website, I feel it's important to get things right.

Opinions welcome.


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:36
Italian to English
Depends on how you construe the noun phrase Dec 7, 2008

Hi Tom,

I tend to agree with you, even though I am a member of the "Translators Association" (sic).

Robert Burchfield, in his excellent book The English Language, has some interesting comments on the apostrophe:
>
Until the late seventeenth century, the apostrophe was not used to indicate the possessive case but rather to guide the reader to the simplex or basic form of a possibly unfamiliar word (Siloa's brook in Milton to show that the simplex was Siloa, not Siloas). It was introduced as a sign of the possessive case in the singular after the death of Milton; and not until the eighteenth century as a sign of the possessive case in the plural.
>
Burchfield is of the opinion that widespread incorrect usage suggests that "the time is close at hand when this moderately useful device should be abandoned".

I suppose you could construe "translators" as a straightforward attributive, along the lines of "communications device" but in any case, I wouldn't get too worked up about "translators website" when the apostrophe is happily ignored by businesses like "Barclays Bank".

FWIW

Giles


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:36
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Hmm Dec 7, 2008

Giles Watson wrote:

the apostrophe is happily ignored by businesses like "Barclays Bank".

Giles


So how do you know there's a missing apostrophe, Giles? Don't you secretly know it should be there?

Thanks for the book reference (Robert Burchfield) - I'm looking it up now.

Here's one for you:

The Apostrophe Protection Society http://www.apostrophe.fsnet.co.uk/

Look at the examples on that website. Thats what happen's when apostrophy's get out of kontrol !



[Edited at 2008-12-07 19:12 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:36
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
ATA Dec 7, 2008

ATA = American Translators Association. I am a member, but am not American, so in my case it is American Translators' Association... it will be American Translators Association for my fellow American colleagues I reckon...

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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
I agree Dec 7, 2008

Whether an apostrophe would be appropriate or not depends on how the word is used. In the case of a plural, an apostrophe is inappropriate. If you want to make the word possessive, you would need an apostrophe.

I frequently see misused apostrophes, and I HATE it!



Giles Watson wrote:

Hi Tom,

I tend to agree with you, even though I am a member of the "Translators Association" (sic).

Robert Burchfield, in his excellent book The English Language, has some interesting comments on the apostrophe:
>
Until the late seventeenth century, the apostrophe was not used to indicate the possessive case but rather to guide the reader to the simplex or basic form of a possibly unfamiliar word (Siloa's brook in Milton to show that the simplex was Siloa, not Siloas). It was introduced as a sign of the possessive case in the singular after the death of Milton; and not until the eighteenth century as a sign of the possessive case in the plural.
>
Burchfield is of the opinion that widespread incorrect usage suggests that "the time is close at hand when this moderately useful device should be abandoned".

I suppose you could construe "translators" as a straightforward attributive, along the lines of "communications device" but in any case, I wouldn't get too worked up about "translators website" when the apostrophe is happily ignored by businesses like "Barclays Bank".

FWIW

Giles


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:36
Italian to English
An apostrophic absence is better than a catastrophic presence Dec 7, 2008

Tom in London wrote:

Giles Watson wrote:

the apostrophe is happily ignored by businesses like "Barclays Bank".

Giles


So how do you know there's a missing apostrophe, Giles? Don't you secretly know it should be there?



Well, James Barclay was one of the early partners. If we're going to be sticklers about apostrophes - and I repeat that I tend to agree with your point of view - "Barclays Bank" should either be "Barclay's Bank", if the reference is to James, or "Barclays' Bank" if the whole Barclay family is involved.

But if the choice is between greengrocer's apostrophes and no apostrophes at all, I prefer the second option.

Giles


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:36
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Muphry's Law Dec 7, 2008

Giles Watson wrote:

if the choice is between greengrocer's apostrophes and no apostrophes at all, I prefer the second option.

Giles


to what particular greengrocer are you referring?



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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:36
Italian to English
This one Dec 7, 2008

Tom in London wrote:

to what particular greengrocer are you referring?



http://www.wordspy.com/words/greengrocersapostrophe.asp

Giles


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 04:36
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Yes to apostrophe Dec 7, 2008

It is an Association "of" Translators, so when you turn that around, it should be Translators' Association, definitely with an apostrophe.

Tomás, what you say does not make any sense to me. The name of the ATA does not change depending on whether you are a member or an American. A name is a name is a name.


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unaldi  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:36
Member (2007)
Italian to Turkish
+ ...
Nice topic to discuss in 'The translators workplace' Dec 7, 2008

Just a quick look at the Proz logo in the top left corner!!

I am considering this an opportunity to ask about something which confuses me..

In my linguistic world the years between 1950 and 1960 (to give an example) are the 1950s. That is what I had learned and that is what makes sense to me.. s for plural..

For years I have been helping students get ready for various language exams like TOEFL, SAT, IELTS and some language exams in Turkey. I don't remember catching that in IELTS books (and I don't expect to), but in American books it is always 1950's (meaning years falling in that decade)..

It is surprising to see that in popular TOEFL and SAT books which prepare students for language exams

1950's could only mean 'of year 1950' and should not be used that way.. Am I wrong?

Cosa ne dite??


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:36
German to English
A not infrequent question Dec 7, 2008

Tom,

This issue is raised quite frequently in the context of the ATA, the American Translators Association (no apostrophe).

The argument for no apostrophe, as put to me by a former ATA president, is that it's not the "association belonging to the American translators" (which would make it a possessive/genitive noun), but the "association of American translators" (or more specifically, the association of translators in America), which is not a possessive/genitive formulation. After considering this argument, I now agree with it.

Perhaps part of the problem is that it *looks* a bit odd, so we're probably expecting an apostrophe there, even if there's no need for one. The jury's out where other organisations are concerned - some use an apostrophe, like the UK National Farmers' Union, others don't, like the US National Farmers Union. But I don't think there's a US/UK divide here. After all, did you ever see "trades' union"?

Perhaps the confusion as to whether or not there should be an apostrophe is why so many organistions use the "of" formulation (Society of.../Association of...).

Robin


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:36
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
No need for confusion Dec 7, 2008

RobinB wrote:

The jury's out

Robin


Robin, it isn't out.

There's no need to be confused. As I said in my first post in this thread: the possessive plural requires an apostrophe. In all other cases, an apostrophe would be a mistake.

So this thread of the Proz.com discussion forums should be called "Translation - art & business - Translators' Associations". "Translators Associations" is simply a concatenation of two plural nouns "Translators" and "Associations". There is no nexus between them, of any kind. I was shocked to find this on a website where correct usage is the most important thing.

Anyone who genuinely doesn't know what's correct could always cop out by saying "Associations of Translators". Actually that would sound better anyway.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:36
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
1950s Dec 7, 2008

unaldi wrote:

Cosa ne dite??



unaldi, "in the 1950s" is correct. "In the 1950's" is wrong. What's worse, it's ugly.

Every other use is also wrong, as in "a 1950's car".

The only possible correct use would be in a construction such as "1950's industrial output was higher than 1959's".



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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:36
German to English
Not quite sure if I follow you Dec 7, 2008

Tom in London wrote:

There's no need to be confused. As I said in my first post in this thread: the possessive plural requires an apostrophe. In all other cases, an apostrophe would be a mistake.

So this thread of the Proz.com discussion forums should be called "Translation - art & business - Translators' Associations". "Translators Associations" is simply a concatenation of two plural nouns "Translators" and "Associations". There is no nexus between them, of any kind. I was shocked to find this on a website where correct usage is the most important thing.


Now I really am confused, I'm afraid. While I agree that there's an argument for using the apostrophe in the generic context of this Proz forum label, are you also saying that it should be e.g. "American Translators' Association"? This cannot be the case, as there's no possessive involved.

Anyone who genuinely doesn't know what's correct could always cop out by saying "Associations of Translators". Actually that would sound better anyway.


or "Translator Associations". That would also be perfectly OK for the Proz forum label.

Robin

[Edited at 2008-12-07 22:34 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:36
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
No argument Dec 7, 2008

RobinB wrote:

[there's an argument for using the apostrophe in the generic context of this Proz forum label


No Robin, there's no argument, it's imperative.

The three words concatenated together "American Translators Association" are simply three words concatenated together. They mean nothing.

On the other hand "American Translators' Association" means "The Association of American Translators".

This is perfectly clear.

"Association of American Translators" sounds better anyway, and is indeed often the form adopted for such associations.

Imagine the mess you'd get into if you dispensed with apostrophes when discussing (say) the Rules of Conduct of such an assocation. Were you to write "the American Translators Associations Rules of Conduct" you would have people running screaming for the door.

Apostrophes matter.


[Edited at 2008-12-07 22:46 GMT]


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