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Author Topic: Apostrophes and acronyms  (Read 1292 times)
Miss Mae
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« on: August 05, 2015, 02:47:56 PM »

Sir, can the 's--I'm not sure how should it be called--be written like in the paragraph below?

"The hippopotamus is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)'s red list of threatened species as 'vulnerable, due to the significant decline in their population in the past three decades'.

Or should it have just been reconstructed like what I did below?

"Being 'vulnerable, due to the significant decline in their population in the past three decades', the hippopotamus is listed on the red list of threatened species in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)."
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Joe Carillo
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« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2015, 11:48:24 AM »

I’ll say right off that by resorting to a total rewrite, you administered on that sentence a cure that’s worse than the disease, if indeed the seemingly misshapen use of the apostrophe-“s” after the parenthetical acronym “IUCN” can even be remotely considered an error.

The fact though is that the use of the apostrophe-“s” in that situation is a perfectly acceptable grammatical and stylistic convention for indicating the possessive for entities with long, multiword names that provide the obligatory acronym to boot. In short, that sentence is perfectly healthy and didn’t need the intrusive surgery that you did on it.

Let’s examine your post-surgery sentence: “Being ‘vulnerable, due to the significant decline in their population in the past three decades,’ the hippopotamus is listed on the red list of threatened species in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).”

Its first major flaw is that it describes the vulnerability and population decline (and even the timetable) of something way, way ahead of having it identified by name—“the hippopotamus.” The second major flaw is that the 15-word description of the hippopotamus is now being presented as an unattributed direct quote rather than being specifically attributed to the IUCN. I think this departure from the intended sense is even more serious than burying the true subject of the statement deep in midsentence.

The lesson to be learned here is that rewriting a sentence is serious business. It must be done for a valid reason and must be faithful in every way to the intent and sense of the original statement.
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Miss Mae
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« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2015, 02:24:09 PM »

Uh, oh.

Thank you still.
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