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Monday, September 13, 2010

Apostrohe's Alway's S'ignify S'ignificance

The New York Times article written by John Leland on September 5 contained the following, describing low interest loans available to first time home buyers in the wake of the financial crisis: "The loans are the idea of state housing finance agencies, or H.F.A.'s, ...."

There are some confusing aspects to this sentence. This post is an invitation to Mr. Leland to clarify his intentions. These items are confusing:
1. The loans, while an idea, can't be the idea of state housing finance agencies. This is because agencies are not sentient beings.
2. The loans, while an idea, can't be the idea of several state housing agencies can they? Did several state housing agencies have the same idea, at different times, or the same time in their collective agency brain? Have state housing agencies taken the Vulcan mind meld and applied to the lending of money to first time home buyers? Thank you, Gene Roddenberry.
3. Is this simply sloppy editing, in which case it isn't Mr. Leland's fault? It is apparent to anyone who reads a newspaper that reporters are no longer expected to write correctly, so I blame the editors, not the writers. Mr. Leland may have been trying to say that H.F.A.s's ideas are low interest loans to first time buyers, in which case he merely left in the whole first clause of his sentence without editing.

4. Is Mr. Leland advancing a new position on apostrophe usage? Should apostrophes be used at any time when referring generically to more than one (or all) State government agency, an incarnation of which exists in each of the 50 states?

5. Is it possible that Mr. Leland is subliminally advancing a political preference for federal government at the expense of State government? Why, after all, should we have 50 State agencies who all have the same idea? Seems inefficient.

At any rate, I'd like to hear from Mr. Leland to clarify his writing. Unless, of course, this is the fault of his editor.