A fascinating paper my daughter brought home from school raised a question in our household, one which I direct to the savants of the group in hopes of receiving a definitive answer. The fascinating element of the paper was its several uses of the possessive form of Descartes. The paper contained at least three distinct spellings, though perhaps one was a typo:
Descartes' the most frequent occurrence
Descarte's only a single occurence
Descartes's two occurrences
Not a one really looks entirely plausible to me, although I believe I'd use the last. The second is most likely a typo, I think, but the first is the form I found the most interesting. It seems utterly impossible, even if there might be stylistic reasons to accept, say, Moses' as a possessive.
How would "Descartes'" be pronounced, do you suppose? Why not exactly like "Descartes"? The maybe-typo evidence suggests that the author was thinking something like "day-carts". Perhaps the third choice would have sounded to her ear like "day-cartzez", leaving only the first alternative. I see that other authors on the Internet use that same spelling, so I suppose there may be a reason for it, but how say you all?

rzed
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A fascinating paper my daughter brought home from school raised a question in our household, one which I direct to ... most interesting. It seems utterly impossible, even if there might be stylistic reasons to accept, say, Moses' as a possessive.

Both the first and third are acceptable in one reputable style guide or another.
How would "Descartes'" be pronounced, do you suppose? Why not exactly like "Descartes"? The maybe-typo evidence suggests that the author ... Internet use that same spelling, so I suppose there may be a reason for it, but how say you all?

Descartes = De cart
Descartes' = De carts
Also, look for any chance to substitute Cartesian.

Lars Eighner finger for geek code (Email Removed) http://www.io.com/~eighner / "The very essence of the creative is its novelty, and hence we have no standard by which to judge it." Carl R. Rogers, On Becoming a Person
That's easy: with the final, possessive "s".
Why not
exactly like "Descartes"?

Because the "s" is not pronounced.
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A fascinating paper my daughter brought home from school raised a question in our household, one which I direct to ... Internet use that same spelling, so I suppose there may be a reason for it, but how say you all?

is correct and is pronounced /day-carts/.

Adrian
A fascinating paper my daughter brought home from school raised ... be a reason for it, but how say you all?

is correct and is pronounced /day-carts/.

Your ear is giving you the right answer why not pay it heed? The possessive should indeed be pronounced day-carts; the only plausible way to achieve that is to spell it "Descartes's" as the good Lord intended.
That's easy: with the final, possessive "s". Why not

exactly like "Descartes"?

Because the "s" is not pronounced.

Well, that's the point. If it's not pronounced in "Descartes", how does a trailing apostrophe make it audible in "Descartes'"?

rzed
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Your ear is giving you the right answer why not pay it heed? The possessive should indeed be pronounced day-carts; the only plausible wayto achieve that is to spell it "Descartes's" as the good Lord intended.

looks stupid and is stupid. From the spelling it is clear that it is a possessive and it is clear how the word is pronounced. Therefore an additional s is redundant. wins 7 to 1 when I search for book jackets on Amazon, so it seems that the publishers and academics of the US and UK agree with me.
Adrian
A fascinating paper my daughter brought home from school raised a question in our household, one which I direct to ... one was a typo: Descartes' the most frequent occurrence Descarte's only a single occurence Descartes's two occurrences

Since the name does not end with an S-sound, add apostrophe-S to form the possessive, and add an S-sound when you pronounce it:

Descartes's /deh CARTS/

Stefano
rzed biomed:
That's easy: with the final, possessive "s". Why not Because the "s" is not pronounced.

Well, that's the point. If it's not pronounced in "Descartes", how does a trailing apostrophe make it audible in "Descartes'"?

Because the name is French, but the possessive is English.

(Like someone further upthread, I prefer "Cartesian".)

Peter Moylan peter at ee dot newcastle dot edu dot au http://eepjm.newcastle.edu.au (OS/2 and eCS information and software)
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