I encountered the use of appositives in two texts that I read this week and both had me thinking about the way we order the elements of an appositive (i.e., the noun and the phrase being used to rename the noun) to achieve a specific emphasis.
The first use comes from the thesis I read through this week. In it, the author is describing a survey she set up and the recruitment letter that went out to potential participants. Part of her description of that letter read:
I included a brief letter co-signed by me; Dr. [Name], the Composition Coordinator; Dr. [Name], the Writing Across the Curriculum Coordinator; and Dr. [Name], the Writing Center Coordinator.
What I noticed in this sentence is that the names of the individuals come in the primary position, with their titles being used in the appositive position. I suggested to her that readers of an article that might result from her thesis would probably be less interested in names than in the positions, so it makes sense in this case to switch the order of the two and have the positions in the primary noun position and the names as appositives. (You could also suggest that we strike the names altogether, since readers outside the immediate context would be unlikely to know these people or care about their names.)
The second instance comes from a New York Times news alert I received on my phone about the acquisition of the music and hardware company Beats by Apple (I’m recreating this by memory as my phone no longer has the notification on it):
Apple acquires rising music company, Beats, in $3B trade.
Now, the ordering here is probably less important than in the previous example, but for some reason I was intrigued by the possibilities in this brief alert text. In this case, the author chose to include the name of the company in the appositive, thus diminishing its emphasis and drawing attention to the fact that this company is a rising star in the music industry. This choice suggests to me an inference by the writer that the audience may not have been familiar with Beats (not a bad assumption, I think). A tech blog (especially one followed by Apple devotees like me), on the other hand, whose audience is probably already familiar with Beats might switch the position of the two nouns to place more emphasis on the name of the company.