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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?”

  • July 26, 2007
  • Posted by xiphos
  • Filed in Usage
  • 6 comments

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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.

porsche July 27, 2007 @ 4:54AM

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

porsche July 27, 2007 @ 4:58AM

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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?

jerrygolland August 30, 2007 @ 8:00AM

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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.

porsche August 30, 2007 @ 8:15AM

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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.

porsche October 3, 2007 @ 2:18PM

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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.

dracosputem May 26, 2010 @ 5:02PM

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