Aaron Crane perl at aaroncrane.co.uk
Mon Oct 15 21:06:56 BST 2007

Andy Wardley writes:
> Use parens to explicitly scope the collective:
> > www.cpan.org is (Jarkko and Elaine)'s gig, anyway.
> If that's not proper English, then it should be.

It is, and no parens are needed.  If I remember right, the technical
terminology is that possessive -s in English behaves like an NP clitic
-- that is, something that attaches to noun phrases rather than just
to nouns.  (Googling for likely terms (English, possessive, clitic,
NP, etc) suggests I'm at least close on the terminology.)

In this case, the noun phrase in question is the conjunction "Jarkko
and Elaine".  One of the canonical linguist examples of this phenomenon
is "the King of Spain's hat", where it's not Spain that has the hat,
but the King of Spain.  With a little effort, you can get the -s to be
next to (and therefore to attach to) a word of pretty much any part of
speech; you just have to construct a noun phrase that ends in what you
want.  For example, it's relatively easy to use a preposition ("the guy
I gave it to's car") or a verb ("the girl I used to date's sister").

Aaron Crane

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