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Harpy days are here again:

“In case you missed it, the abominable right-wing harpie Ann Coulter stirred up another small tempest last weekend … “ My first thought was “I didn’t know Ann Coulter played the harp.” My second thought was “No, someone who plays the harp is a harper or a harpist.” So what is a harpie? The thing that Ahab threw at Mobie Dick?

Excerpts from letters to the editor of the Little Rock daily:

“Rep. Steve Harrelson of Texarkana sponsored a resolution to add an apostrophe to the end of our state name when using it in a possessive manner … an asinine resolution.” “Re the spelling of the possessive form of Arkansas: You can’t legislate grammar.” “Our glorious legislature is at it again, [calling for] an incorrect spelling of our state’s possessive spelling. How stupid must we look? Which looks or sounds right to you, Memphis’ or Memphis’s?”

In America, a person’s right to misspell is precious, and that includes the rights of the three persons quoted, but we need to keep this apostrophe matter in the proper perspective, lest we have another Mustain-Nutt sort of division among Arkansans. Here, the proper perspective is that Arkansas’s is right and Arkansas’ is wrong. I’ve explained this before. Looks like someone wasn’t taking notes.

As for these angry correspondents, (1) Mr. Harrelson is not adding an apostrophe, he’s restoring the one that was there originally and has belonged there all along, (2) You can’t pass a law mandating spelling, but you can adopt a resolution expressing legislative sentiment, and the legislature does it every day in support of muscadine queens and chigger festivals, (3) Memphis’s looks and sounds better, just as it did when I learned about possessives in school a few centuries back. And the apostrophe is needed even more in the case of Arkansas, because the last s is silent.

If there’s space for another monument on the crowded Capitol lawn, I say Representative Harrelson and his patron, Parker Westbrook, are entitled. Those who feel as I do can send their contributions here.

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