Submitted by xiphos on July 26, 2007

Plurals in titles

I’m crossing my fingers in hopes that this question will be answered without any attacks on a person’s personal beliefs. Can it happen?

When carrying more than one book entitled, “Book of Mormon,” do you say you have three “Books of Mormon?” This has been a bit of a joke among people of the LDS faith, as some people are very insistent that “books” must be used. The book is made up of many sections called “books” (similar to how the Bible is set up), and Mormon is said to be the editor who compiled and abrigded the book (hence the title). Based on that, I could see how someone could think of it as a collection of books edited by Mormon, and decide that “books” makes the most sense. Personally, I see “Book of Mormon” as a title that is handled like a complete unit, and so the plural would be Book of Mormons - which still sounds funny.

So, is there any set way to pluralize a title with the word book in it? Like “Books of the Dead” compared to “Book of the Deads?”

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A-hem: The Book of Mormon was Translated not Written by Joseph Smith Jr. Multiple people wrote the book and a man named Mormon abriged it.

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I'm a member of the Mormon faith and I must say that I really enjoyed your responses. I may even use it for discussion in my Sunday school lesson. Who would have thought that the title could raise such controversy? Beyond the title is the central message: Jesus is the Christ and he atoned for our sins. There's a fascinating historical account that follows a people for about 1,000 years. There's a lot on faith, love, charity repentance, baptism, prayer and more...

I'd be happy to get you free 'copies of The Book of Mormon', 'Books of Mormon' or 'Book of Mormons'. :) Thanks again for your fun insights!
adnilsen(at)gmail.

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I agree: "three copies of the 'Book of Mormon'"

Likewise, "three copies of the 'Ennead'" is preferred over "three 'Enneads'", which, in the latter case, is a set of nine.

"Book of Job": a story ABOUT Job.

"Book of Mormon": a story BY and ABOUT _the_ Mormons, not edited by Mormon (somebody's name, which is incorrect). The Book of Mormon BY Joseph Smith et al., of which she has three copies at hand.

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And how about if we leather-bound several Mormons themselves together with some glue and string? Could we have a single, "Book of Mormons"? Would two such books be "Books of Mormons", or better yet, "Book of Mormons"'s?

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Time to throw the proverbial spanner in the works. If you were in a Mormon church holding three copies of the Book of Mormon, that probably considering your location belong to three seperate people of the LDS faith, known as Mormons, would you be holding three books of mormons?

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But surely, one would say that a person is carrying, or has in their possession three 'Books' of Mormon as opposed to having in their possession three Book of 'Mormons' or indeed three 'Books of Mormons'. Might be a bit pedantic, but I must stick to my guns. That is in that I perceive the fact that the plurality lays with the number of book, that the statement is dependant on the number of books we are discussing.

And of course, with all due respect Porsche, maybe I am missing the point, and of course when it boils down to the sediment it matters little when it is up to the conveyor just how they will present their information.

After re-reading the initial question (When carrying more than one book . . . ), is not the statement to convey just how many 'books' one is carrying?

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Cascader, it's not a question of whether it's a book of books. It's a matter of whether "Book of Mormon" is a book, edited by Mormon, or the actual title of said book. Since it could be understood either way, it's really up to the speaker to use whichever represents his or her intent.

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Should not the proper and correct way to verbalise the fact that when holding three books of the same title the pluralisation of the noun being referred to is "Book" and not "Mormons".

There is reason then, socially or in conversation, to refer to this fact as having three "Books of Mormon", regardless of whether each single book is comprised of "books" or not.

If you would be getting my drift . . .

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"Much learning hath made thee mad" is from the Bible, Acts 26:24, said by Festus, the governor of Judea, after hearing St. Paul's defense for blasphemy.

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Who said "Much learning hath made thee mad!"?

SonS-in-law is of course the only way to go, but please heed Jessica!

"Three copies of..."is simple, clear logical English. Shouldn't we be putting our energy - religious or linguistic - to better use?

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Thank you for the comments! I must agree completely with Jessica - that is the easiest way to solve the problem!

"Book of Mormon" is the title of a book containing sections (also called "books" in the biblical sense), and edited by Mormon. So it is, in fact, a single book containing multiple sections. That is why I see the three words as a single unit, and assume that "Book of Mormon's" would be correct.

There doesn't seem to be any rule about this, then?

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Oops, I meant to say, "...I would ultimately say either is correct with "Book of Mormon"'s being somewhat preferred."

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Tell you the truth, I think it could go either way and probably the other way. You did say "...book ENTITLED, 'Book of Mormon'...", that is, it is specifically a title. Say you go to Blockbuster to take out the classic "B" sci fi movie "Day of the Triffids". The kid behind the counter says "You're in luck! We have three "Day of the Triffids"'s left. They're over there." He doesn't say "We have three "Days of the Triffids"...". Titles are proper nouns in themselves. IF it is truly a title, then the title should be treated exocentrically as a single unit and pluralized at the end. Note, in my example, even though "triffids" is already plural, it would actually be proper to doubly pluralize the entire phrase with -'s.
In my example, there's no ambiguity. Clearly a movie isn't a type of "day". But, in your question, "Book of Mormon", is actually a book, so one could claim that it is a title, OR a description of the book itself. If it is a description rather than a title, then "Books of Mormon" would be acceptable. Of course, it is also a title, or at least has become one, so I would ultimately say either is correct with "Book of Mormon"'s being correct. Note that it should be italicized (except for the pluralizing "s"), or, when italicizing is impossible (like for me now) then in quotes with an apostrophe before the final "s". I think you could compare this with spoonfuls vs. spoonsful. Both are correct with spoonfuls being the more common.

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This is surely the same rule as the sons-in-law versus son-in-laws?

In almost every case like this, the head noun is pluralised, so that "Books of Mormon" would be right. It does sound weird, but Book of Mormons sounds weirder - as if there was one book regarding several Mormons, and as there was only one person named Mormon in this case, this would be inaccurate.


Whichever way you play it, the advice in the post before this is best of all!

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Sure--you have three copies of the Book of Mormon. When in doubt, avoid!

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