Phantom grammar. Just one more of Dr. Know's hidden specialties, revealed in his response to this confused reader from the November 2012 issue.
Can you shed a little light on a grammatical tic we indulge in in these parts? For whatever reason, Cincinnatians have a tendency to add an s to the proper names of various beloved stores and personal nouns. For instance, according to all the branding and signage, it’s Kroger not Krogers, and it’s Busken not Buskens. I also fondly recall a saleswoman at the old Brooks Bros. store on the corner of Fourth and Walnut who always greeted customers with an affable “Can I help youse?” Do youse have any idea why wes do this around here?—Singularly AnnoyedDear Singularly Annoyed:It would be more correct for you to be Doubly Annoyed, as you have presented the Doctor with two different speech symptoms. We’ll take the easy one first. Cincinnatians who ask everyone at the table “Do youse want onions in those coneys?” are linguistic sisters to Lexingtonians who ask a group “Do you all want gravy with that ham?” They are addressing modern English’s lack of a second person plural form of address. Listen carefully and it will become clear that “youse” and “you all” are not used when you are by yourself at the table.
What you are not hearing in Buskens and Krogers are the apostrophes mentally inserted by the speaker. Your Cincinnati friends are not speaking of Barney and Mrs. Kroger. They are speaking of Barney Kroger’s place of business, the same way they spoke of H. and S. Pogues’ lamented department store or—as you say—Joe Busken’s bakery.
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