To argue about an apostrophe

As I’ve remarked more than once I don;t actually know much about the actual rules of writing:

£17bn of UK arms sold to rights’ abusers

Is that right?

It’s not exactly the possessive, is it? Yes, they are the abusers of rights but, umm, just dinnae read right.

16 thoughts on “To argue about an apostrophe”

  1. Apostrophe not needed. “Rights abuser” is a lazy expression, but, hey, it’s a headline, innit.

  2. No need for an apostrophe. “Rights” is an attributive noun, like “dog” in “dog walkers” or “cricket in “cricket ball.” Perhaps we could call this the “graduate greengrocer’s apostrophe.”

    And that should be “disnae read right,” Tim. “Dinnae” is the plural, equivalent to “do not”

  3. Philip Scott Thomas

    What others have said is correct. No apostrophe is required.

    If, however, one were to go full grammar nazi, “rights abusers” should be hyphenated, i.e., “rights-abusers”.

  4. Part of the problem is that “rights” is plural, whereas in normal English it would be singular or mass: “oath breakers”, “cattle rustlers”, “window cleaners”, etc.

    Rightly it would be “right abusers”, but that sounds wrong because we’ve got used to using “rights” as a mass-noun when really it’s a plural noun.

  5. It is not the possessive case because there is no ownership. The abusers do not belong to the rights therefore use of the possessive is incorrect.

    Workers’ rights is the possessive case because the rights belong to the workers. .

  6. Not what I meant, Rather, the apostrophe, if there should be one at all, is in the correct place for rights to be a plural.

  7. Bugger punctuation. What I want to know is the meaning of “lay down a marker” as used by football journalists.

  8. Re the plural, there’s multiple rights, but there’s only one sentence so it “disnae” read right.

  9. That last one is a different apostrophe, cheater Tim.. 😛

    You UK-ians torture use the same poor scribble in three different grammatical situations. You could argue four, but half-swallowed mangling of words is more of a spoken thing, and more a matter of verbatim style than grammar, methinks.

    And like the german gender-cases, it trips you up as much as it exposes furriners.. 😛

  10. “lay down a marker”
    Usually that teams wins in such a ways as to make a statement that they can be taken seriously as competitors, a stamp of authority maybe. So a big win or beating the current top of the table, late or big comeback that sort of thing.
    Newly promoted team goes out and wins first game in higher league decisively then they are laying down a marker to show they can compete in that league.

  11. @Philip Scott Thomas or we could short-circuit the whole right’s’ abuser’s kerfuffle and just call them Jeremy’s pals.

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