The Anti-Sam Rainsy Law

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Correct Punctuation of Donald Trump, Jr.,’s Name

Unfortunate side effect of the scandal is this period-comma-apostrophe bullshit from the New Yorker.

The Correct Punctuation of Donald Trump, Jr.,’s Name

The New Yorker | 12 July 2017

The reasoning for the punctuation of “Jr.,’s” is pretty straightforward. It’s a collision of conventions. The first convention is The New Yorker’s—we place a comma before “Jr.” Doing so leads to another of our conventions: when something like “Jr.” occurs in the middle of a phrase, clause, or sentence, it is set off by its preceding comma and a following comma. Thus: “Ed Begley, Jr., was in ‘St. Elsewhere.’ ” A third convention is one that we all accept: the possessive is indicated by the addition of an apostrophe and “s.” We (the magazine) like our punctuation; we set things off with commas a lot; it drives some people nuts (i.e., it’s “bullshit”). This reaction is not surprising; it is also not new. With “Jr.” occurring in the middle of a line, where else is the possessive indicator supposed to go? This styling doesn’t come up very often in the magazine, and its occurrence in a headline of sorts has brought it a weird kind of notoriety. Now it can comfortably stand alongside the diaeresis and “focussing.”

Andrew Boynton is the head of the copy department at The New Yorker.

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