Is it nobody's business but the Turks (it's nobody's business, except that it is the business of the Turks); or is it nobody's business but the Turks' (it's nobody's business, except that it is the Turks' business)? Should there be an apostrophe or not?

The phrase, for context, is from the song "Constantinople" by They Might Be Giants.

Istanbul was Constantinople.
Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople.
Been a long time gone, oh Constantinople.
Why did Constantinople get the works?
That's nobody's business but the Turks

  • 1
    You don't pronounce the possessive 's attached to plural Turks, but conceptually it must be present. Nobody ever says It's nobody's business but me, for example - that's always ...but mine. In your context, the "bare" apostrophe should be written after the word Turks, because nobody's business but the Turk's would imply it only concerns one context-specific Turk, rather than all Turks collectively. Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 13:27
  • @FumbleFingers, I like the "nobody's business but me/nobody's business but mine" reasoning. Will you post an answer with that explanation?
    – Hammerite
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 13:47
  • I do not find @RMac's answer satisfying, so I will not accept it as it stands, but I would accept an answer that presented your reasoning.
    – Hammerite
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 13:55
  • @Hamnerite My answer does present reasoning. I can't see why you don't think so. Please elaborate on your question if there's some other rationale you'd like to see.
    – R Mac
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 16:06
  • Yes, it presents reasoning. But it does not present the reasoning presented by FumbleFingers in their first comment. And I favour that explanation, so I've decided arbitrarily that I shan't accept any answer that doesn't explain things in those terms.
    – Hammerite
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 16:36

1 Answer 1


It's nobody's business but the Turks'.

"Turks" is a word used to refer to the main ethnic group of Turkey and to the people belonging to that group. Because it is plural and because because the "business" belongs presumably to all of them (Istanbul, formerly Constantinople, is in present day Turkey), you use the possessive plural variant.

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