How to Discuss a Difference of Opinion

Before you post a comment asking, I say that "Missy" has more S's in it than "Scott" in a comic that you will see in a couple of weeks. Subscribers saw it just before this comic. Yes, my posting schedule is that weird and complex. You could save yourself these headaches by subscribing. Just a thought.

 

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Reader Comments (40)

In the wife's hair of the first panel, I see a leaping guinea pig, in the third panel, a prancing rooster, and in the fourth panel, an angry goldfish (I just know that it's angry). Who else thinks that Scott is intentionally drawing animals on her head and why would he do this?

Has this been previously discussed?

Curious and possibly disturbed.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCraig Zody

Craig Zody,
yes it has, but now that you mention it, maybe this is a silent protest of this hairstyle, suggesting something might be nesting in it.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDee

Wait, this is a plural, not a possessive. Should there be an apostrophe at all? Isn't the plural of S Ss?

Note from Scott: I looked at all the ways I could think of to pluralize S. That's what the comic is about. Anyway, Ss reads as a hissing noise, so I chose to go with S's.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRosie Redfield

Rosie wins a free copy of The Elements of Style by E.B. White.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBeniy

Beniy, does Wiiliam Strunk, Jr. not exist? And what does that manual say? Chicago says not to use it, but there is dispute (see here for more).

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel

Thank you for writing a comic that tells us that "Missy" has more s-apostrophe-s than "Scott." I had failed to notice up to this point.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKimo

"Missy" has one more letter S in it than "Scott."

Meeting adjourned.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

But Scott has more T's than Missy, or would that be spelled "tease"?

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

I forgot to say, 2014! 2014! 2014!

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Is it just me or S's could be said like asses? At the beginning of the dialogue I thought that this butt-joke is the the wife's problem. :)

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterquantumboy

Re: the hair shapes. I googled "humans see shapes" and got Pareidolia - a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant, a form of apophenia. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds. This is from Wikipedia. I know Google don't pay taxes but Damn! they are good at being a search engine.

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike Geordie Brown

Panel 1 . . .
Scott: "Why, what have you got against the letter S?"
Missy: "An apostrophe".

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterfudspong

@kimo:
Don't be silly. "Missy" is spelled with a plain double-s, not s-apostrophe-s...

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPjotr

I've always preferred "S"s, as the quotation marks make clear the target.

As for other suggestions, just consider vowels, like "A" and "I".

Would you write "I made straight As in school"?

Would you like "Someone doesn't dot their I's correctly"?

That's why I've always gone with the highly non-ambiguous quoted letter. There is no way to read "I"s or "A"s incorrectly.

However, you are free to kowtow to whatever dead person's manual of style you wish.

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThe Chosen One

For clarity to those unfamiliar with the vernacular,

"I's knows I's s'posta do dat." would be the properly punctuated dialect for certain english subcultures, with "I's" being the (admittedly incorrect, yet, still existing) contraction of "I is" or "I has", where the form of the verb is not properly conjugated.

With that in mind, "I's" should clearly look, to anyone aware of that dialectic nuance, like that contraction, and thus, as the letter "I" can not clearly be made plural in that methodology.

All other notations about apostrophes not belonging in plurals, thus, applies.

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThe Chosen One

Craig - you are right about that goldfish - it is IRATE!

I've never seen such a p*ssed piscine.

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaddy

How's about "Eh sez?" Likes everyone sez "Eh" when I brings up the subject?

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPopeye

I hate trying to figure out how to properly use an apostrophe in cases like that. I usually wind up with a convoluted sentence like "The number of occurrences of the letter S in the word Missy exceeds the quantity in the word Scott."

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDB

In the absence of the availability of italics, I believe "esses" would be correct based on the "em dash" precedent. At least you don't have W in your name.

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter408wij

I don't know why, but the spelling bee joke in the third panel made me laugh HEARTILY. Bravo.

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBob

Yeah, technically there shouldn't be an apostrophe in pluralizing a letter (or a number, for that matter), but some authorities disagree on that. And for the letter S I think there's a strong case for using an apostrophe to clarify that it's not, as mentioned, a strong hissing sound.

I don't always comment, but when I do, it's usually about grammar.

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergus

Perhaps you could spell it out phonetically. That way you could talk about S's esses.

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJarrod

I don't often post without reading the whole thing, but when I do I look ridiculous.

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJarrod

If you make the plural as S's then is the possessive plural S's'?
"The S's' shapes reminded me of snakes."

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTuxedoMonkey

Actually, letters have spellings. If you were in a spelling bee, you would need to spell it e-s-s.


That doesn't make for a good joke, though, so I'll chalk it up to creative license. :)

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThe Keck

"esses" can't be correct, as it is the second person singular imperfect subjunctive active of the Latin verb copula.

Scott, I believe you wanted "S"s.

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkhereva

The Chosen One is correct. Any time you refer to a letter or a word as itself (as opposed to as its meaning) you should always put it in quotes. You can italicize it instead. So you could write Ss or "S"s and be not only clear, but also grammatically correct. Oddly, in the sentence below the comic, Meyer had this correct for their names, but not for the letter.

So: "Missy" has more "S"s in it than "Scott."

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRich

I believe we have seen this very hair progression before. I think Scott an Missy were having some other type of debate where Missy trounced him, but I am too lazy to look for it now. Slime Mold -> Butterflies -> Rooster -> Vulture indicating Missy's rough emotional connection to her foil in the panel.

(Since I did not look it up, someone else will have to verify if the entirety of the artwork has been reused, or just Missy.)

--roger

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterirrogical

I actually think Missy is right here. It has to do with those two and three letter words for letter sounds that apparently are key to winning scrabble games.

So S is represented by the word ess and the plural is esses.

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterfugacity

S Apostrophe S? Reminds me of I Palindrome I.

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Scott, I was just introduced to your comic via Yahoo about a week ago, and I have to say: Yours is easily one of the funniest comics I have ever read. The dry, almost acerbic wit and easily flowing prose makes it a real treat. Hopefully, I'll be able to pick up your novels through Amazon in the near future.
It reminds me of my other favorite comic: Hsu and Chan, by Jeremy Scott. Are you familiar with the series? If not, I wholeheartedly recommend the series. Please keep up the great work!

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJesse

The third panel hidden hair message is clearly one of the ailens from the Simpsons kissing Austalia.

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBuck Flicks

I am intrigued by your clever ploy to punish non-subscribers(we like to call ourselves "freeriders") by publishing your strips out of chronological order. Genius, or petty retribution?

The worst part is that I can't indignantly demand my money back.

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJustRuss

Daniel,
The Elements of Style is E.B. White's edited version of his favorite college writing prof.'s, William Strunk's that is, lectures on writing. If I remember correctly, White says Ss is correct. However it's been a while and I may be wrong.

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBeniy

What is the plural of Missy? Would it be "Missys" or "Missies"?

February 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

It would be Missys. Pluralization doesn't change the spelling of names.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRichelieu

<sigh>

The plural of ess - being the 19th letter of the alphabet - is esses. No quotation marks, no apostrophes. As has already been said. But I needed to do so too to reduce my blood pressure.

The cartoon is funny because it is playing on its own wrongness. To argue the degree of wrongfulness is just abstract weird fruitcakery.

February 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSimes

Oddly enough, I just read the 'S' comic first, and then clicked on this one... so this one made perfect continuity-sense to me. (My reading schedule is weird/random.)

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCR

As someone reading these comics from latest-on-the-site back, this actually works out rather well. Though, 'til I read the explanation, was thinking this "multiple Ss" thing was recurrent.

February 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTJF588

As CR and TJF488 have just demonstrated, you always need to keep time travelers in mind when writing any sort of real-time commentary on serial works. It's not quite as bad when there's a definite order, but as Dan Shive points out in several of his EGS comics' commentaries, many things one can say in commentaries don't apply to people from the future.

February 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel

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