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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".