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"If we write Porters’ Lodge, we are suggesting that they own it, which they don’t."
No, we're not:
If we write "Peter Harvey's colleagues", we are not suggesting that he owns them, which he doesn’t. The sergeants' mess doesn't belong to the sergeants, either.

I agree that apostrophes are a menace in English, EXCEPT WHEN THEY DENOTE MISSING LETTERS. If we denoted the genitive by e.g childrens, Johns, papers, the word 'its' would no longer be problematic. As it is, it's just a silly anomaly.

Perhaps we could turn to Dr Johnsons dictionary more often for inspiration; he certainly gives 'dependent' as a possible spelling.

Peter Harvey

Well, I was implying a certain irony in what I said Porters' Lodge etc.

Dr Johnson was uncertain himself. He changed his mind between the first and fourth editions of his dictionary about dependent. The problem is whether the word comes into English from French or Latin. Middle French changed all such words to end in -ant so words that came from French had that form. Johnson gets confused with different meanings of the same word that have different origins, and tries to justify the variation in spelling by etymology.

Im honestly not sure about needing apostrophes missing letters. GBS didnt use them and nobodys ever said hes hard to understand on that score.

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