Tongues in Cheek(s): a Grammar Question
Image via WikipediaOkay wordsmiths not eating turkey quite yet today, I have a question of language–more particularly, of singular versus plural in phrases, thusly:
If more than one of them shows up at court, we don’t speak of “attorney at laws” but put the plural on the first time, as it is the person there in more than one-ness: Attorneys-at-law.
But consider the phrase “right of way.” If we speak of more than one, it is not the rights in multiple but the way, the corridor, hence the “right-of-ways are in need of clearing” and not the rights-of-way. To my ear, the latter sounds very awkward.
And yet, in places that would know this kind of thing, I read rights-of-way, so I’m wrong here? Let me know your opinion and also any informed judgment you have based on both common practice or the laws of grammar.
I have to use this phrase repeatedly in something I need to send off soon. Hep me!