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R's and ABCs

Posted by ESC on November 03, 2000

In Reply to: MEANING posted by Sauerkraut on November 03, 2000

: : : : : I need to know the meaning of the cliche "urban guerilla" for a school assignment.

: : : : Not intending to put you down for your honest inquiry, but a quick look-up in any of the on-line dictionaries (assuming you don't have access to a printed one at home) would have saved you some time.

: : : : Mine defines "guerilla" (derived from the French word "guerre" - meaning "war") as an independant soldier who preys on the enemy by harrassment, surprise attacks, and so forth. Urban, of course refers to cities. Thus -- if you're still with me, urban guerillas are like the Irish Republican Army whose members further their aggendas by illicit and undercover attacks on the current powers.

: : : : Then, again, this term could be applied to the American Revolutionaries who opposed and overthrew the British rule of the early colonies.

: : : Not to put you down for your well-meaning answer, but the origin is Spanish, not French, and is spelled with two r's. (You're not alone in this. 99% of the population would misspell this word one way or another....)

: Right you are about the usual spelling - I'm just a lousy keyboarder. However, my Grolier Webster Internation Dictionary lists both Spanish and French derivations of the word guerrilla - got it right this time - (the alternate spelling uses just one "r") - check it out in some of your other sources. I'm not surprised since both are Romance languages. The further derivation is listed as coming from the French "guerre" meaning war.

: As the French say "c'este la guerre"

: By the way, how do we express "two r's" - the apostrophe should indicate the possessive, but "two rs" makes no sense. Neither does "two Rs".
: Do you have any reference that guides this situation?

: Best --- and thanks for the discussion. We can only keep language and usage alive through interchanges like these. If you happen to find any other misspellings - they're unintentional.

Several of my references said the word is of Spanish origin. Who knows, there could have been cross-pollination.

Regarding plurals formed using an apostrophe -- I always follow the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook since that's the business I'm in. AP style is R's for single letters. (Mind your p's and q's.) However, for multiple letters (ABCs) you just add "s." Same for numbers. For numbers, you use the word (one through nine) up to nine and the figure for 10 and up. Add an "s" for plural figures -- Temperatures are in the low 20s.