On 14/12/2010 19:05, Stephen Rice wrote: > On 12/14/10, Olivier Simon<[log in to unmask]> wrote: >> >>> I went looking for this. I found a reference to the "his genitive". Is that >>> what you mean? >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/His_genitive >>> "In dialects of German, equivalent constructions like dem Mann sein Haus >>> ("the man-dative his house" instead of genitive case: das Haus des Mannes, >>> or des Mannes Haus, which is archaic) are found." >>> I found that page by looking for Afrikaans se. >>> Seems maybe this is where the "'s" came from in English! Well golly. >> >> Not at all. The "'s" of English is simply a remnant of the former declension >> (the >> genitive case). Already in Indo-European was "s" a marker of genitive (as it >> still is in Sambahsa). > > This is, however, where the apostrophe in the English possessive came > from: certain Clever People concluded that the English possessive did > derive from "his," so they decided to mark the "missing" letters with > the apostrophe. Thus the possessive "mans" became "man's." (This was > about the same time and group that gave up some loused-up spellings > such as "sovereign" because of botched etymology.) > The apostrophe indicates the omitted letter "e". In Old English "man's" was "mannes".