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whose house?

Rosie Right

Travis Charbeneau, whose opinions often appear on our Back Page, has written Rosie about the letter she excerpted from the New York Times (June 26). In the Times letter, a reader complained that a family that placed a sign in front of their house saying "The Robinson's" was illiterate.

Charbeneau e-mailed Rosie that if the last name is Robinson, wouldn't the sign's use of the possessive be equivalent to saying that "this house belongs to Mr. & Mrs. Robinson"? In other words, it would be saying, "this house is the Robinson's."

Rosie has great respect for Charbeneau's subtlety of thought, but try as she may, she can't seem to agree. Even with the thought that man and wife become as one, it is hard to see how "the Robinson's" could convey the message that Mr. and Mrs. both lived there. No matter how Rosie parses this, she remains sure the sign should say "The Robinsons." Or, perhaps, "The Robinsons'."

Has Rosie missed something here?

Stylish Language:

Mordecai Richler, the Canadian novelist who died July 3, described "tongue troopers,"the Quebec separatists who insist that everything in their part of Canada be written in French.

Talk the Talk:

Dead Ringer — noun, "an automatically dialed telemarketing call that when answered is immediately hung up by the device that placed the call, because no salesperson is available at the moment." Source: Word Watch by Anne S from the Atlantic Monthly

Bubble Tea — noun, "tea served with milk and with small chewy balls of tapioca usually drunk with a straw." Source: Copy Editor, written by Jesse Sheidlower, principal editor with the North American editorial unit of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Bed Plug — noun, "a low-maintenance patient occupying a bed that might otherwise be filled with a more difficult case." Source: Word for Word/Hospital Lingo from the New York Times, May 13

Scut Puppy — noun, "an underling, usually a third-year medical student, assigned to perform menial tasts like drawing blood and retrieving lab results —Source: See Bed Plug, above

Let Rosie hear from you by telephone (358-0825, ext 322), letter (1707 Summit Ave, Suite 201, Richmond Va. 23230), fax (355-9089) or e-mail

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