About that Apostrophe

Our first response to the preceding post’s inquiry whether it’s “St. Johns” or “St. John’s” River, comes from no less a scholar and maven than Jim Burling, who plumps for “St. Johns” because, as he explains with considerable merit, that’s how the District spells its own name. Our response: so what?

As Justice Frankfurter asked in a private letter (discussing the varying spellings of the caption to the M’Naughten case): to what extent is a madman authority for the spelling of his own name? In like vein, given how egregiously wrong the District turned out to be in the Koontz case, why should we rely on anything it says, including its spelling of its own name?

With all our high regard for Mr. Burling’s prowess as a geologist and a takings maven, we still await word from a legal language/orthography maven.

Also, Mr. Burling calls our attention to the ongoing campaign to eliminate the apostrophe altogether — click on http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324244304578471252974458308.html, but going there would take us beyond the pale. Let others fight that battle.

Follow up. No, we do not intend to fight the apostrophe battle; we only note that the Los Angeles Times has come down on the side of the embattled apostrophe by referring to the Koontz case as  “Koontz v. St. John’s Water Management District;” Jim Puzzanghera, Private Property Rights Bolstered by High Court, L.A. Times, June 26, 2013, at p. A8 (emphasis added).

We also note that the Washington Post does mention the Koontz case, in a manner of speaking, in the form of one of those itty-bitty Associated Press squibs, but in a tour de force of evasion, never mentions the defendant St John’s [or St. Johns] District, and in the most imaginably perfunctory way mentions that Mr. Koonts won; Supreme Court Says Government Sometimes Must Pay Would-Be Developers Over Denied Permit, June 25, 2013.

[This post was edited on 6/26/13 at 11:34 AM].

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