I was playing with my spell-checker, and decided to download up-to-date English (British) dictionaries from there.

One of the files that is essential for spell-checkers, in addition to the .dic files which stores the dictionary itself, is the .aff file which stores all possible affixes. More about the format of this file can be found here, and I pasted the list of affixes for the language en_GB here.

Now the question. My spell-checker doesn't seem to accept the possessive form:

the objective's gradient

and indeed, I cannot find the corresponding rule in the affix file (there is no match for e's in that file). I have never heard anyone complain about this spelling before though, and I am wondering if this is the correct British spelling? If so, maybe someone would have an insight about how to add the corresponding rule to the affix file?

In comparison, the list of affixes for the language en_US (American English, pasted here) is much shorter, and does contain a simple rule for the possessive 's (cf line 105).

  • It would be good to know why this was downvoted? – Jonathan H Aug 22 '17 at 1:54
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    Virtually all spell checkers are broken. Asking why a spell checker rejects a valid spelling is a question for other boards, not EL&U. – Hot Licks Aug 22 '17 at 2:28
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it belongs on StackOverflow or SuperUser. – Hot Licks Aug 22 '17 at 2:30
  • I downvoted for lack of research effort. You say that one spell-checker objects to "objective's". What does your ear tell you? Have you checked any usage guides or textbooks to see what they have to say about how to form and spell the genitive/possessive form of a noun in English? Have you searched for examples of "objective's" being used online? – herisson Aug 22 '17 at 2:35
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    @Sheljohn I would imagine that your spell checker thinks that objective is an adjective and that it should be the objective gradient. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Aug 22 '17 at 14:07

I believe it's not actually a spelling issue, but rather a supposed grammar issue: many people believe (against all evidence) that only animate nouns have possessive forms. They would argue for "the gradient of the objective". (And truth be told, I do find "the objective's gradient" a bit awkward, though it might well sound better in context.)

  • I think that an opinionated curator at Apache is more likely than an omission in this case. Thanks for the info! – Jonathan H Aug 22 '17 at 9:59
  • @downvoter: Care to explain why? – ruakh Aug 24 '17 at 22:13
  • FYI, that wasn't me – Jonathan H Aug 24 '17 at 22:39

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