A rule concerning academic proper nouns


Senior Member
Many propositions and terms in academia are named after people. It's not always easy for me to remember the exact forms of them, so I try to find some rules. I feel that most of the time they take either of the following two forms:

(1) the + people's name + nature of the noun: the Pareto distribution

(2) People's name + 's + nature of the noun: Euler's constant, Euler's number

Do you think that correct? Do we have terms like the Euler's constant, which is against the rules that I summarized above? Thanks.
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    You're correct, and (1) and (2) are mutually exclusive, for the quite general grammatical reason that a noun phrase can have only one specifier. The article 'the' is a specifier, and a genitive noun phrase is a specifier. They can't both be used as modifiers of the same noun.

    One apparent exception is things like 'the prime minister's salary', but here (1) the genitive is applied to the phrase 'the prime minister', and (2) the whole genitive phrase 'the prime minister's' is the one and only specifier of 'salary'. The word salary is not specified by the word 'the'.
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