According to the Chicago Manual of Style (5.21)

  • People or things of higher status usually take the inflected genitive (in other words, adding an "'s" e.g. the chef's saucer)

The CMOS (ibid) gives an example of a nominative noun that is not of higher status, "Perils of Penelope." It is therefore written with the proposition "of" and not inflected by writing "Penilope's Perils." Why is "Penelope" not "higher status" just like "chef" is "higher status"?

  • CMOS's advice seems bizarre to me, and I don't know the answer. I'll just note that this issue does not appear at all in my edition (14) and edition 16 merely says that the difference "depends mostly on style" (apparently allowing "the saucer of the chef"). Mar 9, 2022 at 3:40
  • CMOS is saying that — with "higher status" nouns — inflected genitives like Penelope's perils and the chef's saucer are generally preferred to of-genitives like the perils of Penelope and the saucer of the chef. Although The Perils of Penelope might make a great book title, we wouldn't use that in a sentence. Compare Penelope's perils include pitchforks and fire and ? The perils of Penelope include pitchforks and fire. Mar 9, 2022 at 3:57
  • @TinfoilHat Oh, I see the issue now. If that is all that CMOS said about it, then they sure did a poor job of explaining it! Mar 9, 2022 at 4:58
  • @MarcInManhattan: That they did! Mar 9, 2022 at 5:45


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