Submitted by christina on February 24, 2006

Fora vs Forums

According to the Oxford English Dictionary...

forum n. (pl. forums) 1) a meeting or medium for an exchange of views. 2) (pl. fora) (in an ancient Roman city) a public square or marketplace used for judicial and other business. Origin ME: from Latin, lit. what is out of doors.

But everywhere else I’ve looked, it seems that forums and fora are interchangable. I personally prefer to use the word forums, when referring to a group of workshops and meetings.

I want to argue for this at my work because the term fora is being used and I want to know if there’s more evidence that I’m actually correct, besides what the Oxford English Dictionary tells me.

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In Latin, forum is a neuter noun; in its plural form, it is correct to say fora. The same reasoning applies to the word "memorandum"; in Latin, the plural is memoranda. (A less similar examle: populus - (pl) populi). My guess is that over time, as the general population became less concerned with Latin (it being a dead language), they started to make the word plural by adding the familiar "S". The word "forums" would make any Latin scholar cringe. On the other hand, dictionaries are amended to include slang or new words. I think there's basis for using both, but having taken Latin classes, I'll probably stick to using "fora".

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Words borrowed from other languages are almost always fit into the grammatical structure of the borrowing language. This makes a whole lot of sense, really, especially with English -- do we really want as many ways of forming plurals and genitives as would come with each new language?
The exceptions tend to be very technical words, or when words are used by people who want to look educated. Anyone who thinks that the plural of "forum" should be "fora" should be condemned to use "agenda" as a plural.
And by the way, the plural of "octopus" shouldn't be "octypi." That comes from a misanalysis of the word as Latin. It's actually Greek, so if you want to get picky, the plural should be "octopodes."

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You have to be a little careful there. "Schnapps" is a word taken directly from the German, but an English speaker who used "Schnappsen" to refer to multiple kinds of schnapps would be...overdoing it. Once words are imported into a language, it *is* natural for them to *start* to lose their original grammatical patterns and pick up the ones of their new homes.

Words like "forum" are currently in the process; I'd say both "forums" and "fora" are correct, and I believe most dictionaries would back me up on that.

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The fact is, forum is a word taken directly from the latin and so should follow the same rules. We dont say "he is savoir fairical" now do we? That is because it is a french saying and that sounds completely wrong. For anyone who takes Latin, like Jenn obviously does (yay, someone else who is a Latin scholar and knows what they are talking about :D) we know all of what Jenn said. Because it is a Latin word, and hasn't been changed one iota (apart from lazy people when using the plural which is what we are arguing) we should follow the latin declensions. It is like saying octopusses instead of octopi (pronounced oct o pie) the latter being correct.

What is missing from "latin is the fut e"?
YOU ARE!

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Your question is interesting and I think that the explanation of applying English (vs. Latin) rules of pluralization is a sign that languages evolve naturally and are governed by popular daily usage, as opposed to an "authority" who arbitrarily deems a word to be correct or incorrect. Still, as a teacher who sits through numerous curriculum-based meetings, I find that the term "curriculums" sounds at best lazy and at worst uneducated. To me "curricula" sounds proper for everyday usage. Am I alone here?

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Since hardly anyone actually uses "fora" as the plural of "forum", I tend to regard it as a bit pretentious when it gets thrown into a conversation.

"Forums" is fine - we're modern English folk, not ancient Romans. :¬)

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David Fickett-Wilbar, you just made me really happy because people ALWAYS correct each other, saying that it should be octopi and not octopuses. From now on I am only going to say octopodes because I think that sounds awesome.

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Jenn said: "In Latin, forum is a neuter noun; in its plural form, it is correct to say fora."

I fully agree with Jenn but I remark that the word forum is today an English word as well. I'm a Latin teacher but I think I'd be committing an act of ultimate snobbery if I decided to use fora before -let's say- a PTA audience.

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Damon Tarlaei, I used to take your position on this, but I think Avrom makes a valid point about "schnapps/schnappsen." Besides, the word "forum" has changed a great deal since entering the English language.The word's meaning has changed, first of all. The Romans never meant "internet discussion board" when they said "forum." The word has changed phonetically as well. While I don't know how the Romans actually pronounced spoken Latin (I'm going to speculate that the rolled their r's?), I think it is not an unsafe assumption that English speakers today who use the word "forum" are not pronouncing it exactly as Romans did 2,000 years ago.

What is my point? My point is that languages borrow words from each other and then apply their own rules to those lexial items. If you must insist on "fora" instead of "forums" just make sure you never say "cherubims" instead of "cherubim," a word borrowed by English from Hebrew. Cherubim is already plural, as the singular is "chruv."

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Thanks to all who contributed here. Although I still don't know for sure whether to use "fora" or "forums," reading this thread was much more enjoyable than the writing exercise that prompted me to consult it.

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The same applies to Stadia and Stadiums. In non North American English speaking countries sports commentators will refer to the many "stadia" being used at the world cup.

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Actually one can have a lot of fun with Latin plurals, or for that matter Greek or Hebrew. On "Inside Shelley Berman," a 1959 album, Berman speaks of "One Kleenex, two Kleenices" and "one sheriff, two sheriffim." In the same vein, Latin scholars will recognize that you rent one video, but two videmus, and that if you buy a second Volvo, you are a two-Volvimus family. Also, omnibus and quorum are already plural. Anyone who knows Greek will agree to "one rhinoceros, two rhinoceroi," and "one hippopotamus [slightly misspelled in English], two hippopotamoi." But you go too far if you buy a second Audi and then claim a two-Audite family!

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If Microsoft Word were the definitive source of English grammar and vocabulary, we'd have MUCH bigger problems than worrying about the difference between forums and fora!!!

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My contribution to the octopus discussion (- and here I am quoting only):
"Fowler´s Modern English states that "the only acceptable plural in English is octopuses", and that octopi is misconceived and octopodes pedantic. Octopi derives from the mistaken notion that octopus is a second declension Latin noun, which it is not. Rather, it is (Latinised) Greek, from oktopous, gender masculine, whose plural is oktopodes. If the word were native to Latin, it would be octopes ("eight-foot") and the plural octopedes, analogous to centipedes and millipedes, as the plural form of pes ("foot") is pedes. "

In modern colloquial Greek as far as I know they call it ochtapodi or chtapodi, gender neuter, with the plural form chtapodia

Sorry for being nit-picking but the plural of German "Schnaps" (gender masculine = "der Schnaps") is "(die) Schnäpse".

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Joachim - interesting point to consider, the fuller lineage of a word.

Also (and risking going further off-topic, but I can't resist ; ) - of your preference for pluralizing animals with rhymes in mind - I can't help but think of Ogden Nash...


_the_Octopus_

Tell me, O Octopus, I begs,
Is those things arms, or is they legs?
I marvel at thee, Octopus;
If I were thou, I'd call me Us.

[which might be amended with :]
And were We Us, then would I
Be Octopuses, Octopodes or Octopi ?


(Apologies to Mr. Nash for taking liberties with his already fine poem - it's an homage, really ! - and to everybody else for my liberties taken with meter, grammar and this topic - but it was begging to be done ; )

A bit more on-topic though... finally pulling out my dictionary to review its wisdom on this sub-topic - I see that "octopod" actually refers to an entire order of "cephalopod mollusks" (including "the octopuses"), whereas "octopus" refers to the specific genus (with a note "broadly [in italics] : any octopod excepting the paper nautilus"). So, it seems we were perhaps premature in our enjoyment of "octopodes", which actually carries much ambiguity.

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hot4teacher, after your last post, I thought I might be able to clarify a few things for you. Let me address a few of your comments:

When you said:

"At no point did I state that I was correct nor that anyone else was incorrect. I simply offered my opinion – which I am now somewhat reluctant to do, considering the amount of trolls who responded only to take shots at me.
I already modestly stated my level of education in English, which leaves me confused at attempting to understand why you think I’m being condescending or righteous – which is ironic."

Surely you haven't forgotton your very first post, have you? Here:

"For those whom [sic] are against the correct use of the English language, you are all idiots. Why would you use an incorrect spelling/form of a word if you know that it is incorrect and you know what the correct spelling/form is. It pisses me off when I hear someone say forums instead of fora (and to make my point even stronger, this word processor has found fora to be spelled incorrectly!). If you are going to speak English speak it properly."

So, the fact is, you did not just offer your opinion. Furthermore, you absolutely did say that you were "correct" and that, no, not "anyone" but everyone other than you was incorrect. What's more, you referred to the collective group of other posters on this forum as "idiots". Then you have the nerve to complain when others have pointed this out to you. Sorry, but if you feel that you are being characterized as condescending, it's because you have been. You are the one who has made this personal. Others are simply pointing it out to you, frankly, with a surprising amount of restraint. Even now, during your failed attempt at backpedalling, you've called your detractors "trolls". How about this? If you're going to participate in an intellectual debate, learn to present your arguments clearly. Recognize that they will come under scrutiny and accept criticism graciously. If you think the opposition is wrong, reposte with facts and research, not personal attacks. Just suck it up and stop being such a crybaby. What's truly ironic is not how you think you have been treated, but that your original premise is actually incorrect. From a descriptive point of view, fora is not in common usage. From a prescriptive point of view, there is no prescriptive rule that fora, or latinized plurals in general, should be preferred. In fact, exactly the opposite is the case as has been stated many times and backed up with authoritative sources.

Next, you have pointed out that your choice of name, hot4teacher has nothing to do with your sexual interest in teachers, but, instead, is because of your appreciation of a Van Halen song. Surely you realize that the Van Halen song is entirely about someone who has a sexual interest in his teacher? If the name is inappropriate, it really doesn't matter whether it's your personal interest or Van Halen's. The song is still glorifying teacher-lust. Personally, I'm not offended in the least by your choice of handle; I just wanted to point out the logic to you.

Last, please don't take anything I'm saying as a personal attack. I'm just letting you know what I have observed with the hopes of offering you some insight into what you seem to be experiencing. Perhaps if you tried a more collegial approach, you might have a more pleasant experience, here and elsewhere.

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Porsche, maybe Wiggy has learnt from the British, because they do use 'Maths". So, unless you insist it's 'Physic lesson' & 'Physic teacher', Wiggy has learnt well. All hail the Queen of England!

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The fact that "forum" was borrowed from another language is irrelevant. "Forum" is an English word. It should follow the general rules of the English language: One forum, two forums.

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Doesn't all this brujaja boil down to horrendously lasting influence of the medieval English grammarians who, convinced that Latin was the purest language, decided that English could be analyzed according to Latin grammatical paradigms? This is why we use terms like gerund and participle when discussing English grammar, even though in many cases, the two are indistinguishable. It's also why we speak of an English future tense (there is no specific form that expresses this tense; actions carried out in the future are expressed using an auxiliary verb construction).

Now, as we are all aware, languages change, borrow from other languages, etc etc etc. So, that means that English has borrowed more than just words, it has borrowed grammar as well. Still, the insistence of saying "fora" over "forums" seems to me a big hypocracy. Take some of our French borrowings, for example. We started borrowing from French around the Norman conquest and we haven't stopped since. However, words borrowed directly from the Normans became "anglicized" while words borrowed from the slightly different Parisian dialect retained many features of their French pronunciation (like "chaperone"). Are you Latin scholars going to argue that all English words borrowed from French should be pronounced like they're French? Same goes for Latin words; we've got loads of them in English, but the ones to which we apply Latin grammar and the ones to which we apply English grammar seem to be arbitrary (well, not arbitrary, but embedded in the history of borrowing). And in any case, please accept that English is a Germanic language! Romanic rules don't make sense for us English speakers!

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I'll agree with most above - I feel that both "fora" and "forums" are "correct" and essentially interchangeable.

Personally, I prefer "fora" but will opt to use "forums" for most "audiences", so as not to come off as overly pretentious or condescending - and above all, to be understood (that is the primary purpose of language !), as most people these days know little of Latin.

Of the parallel example given, "Schnappsen" - well, while I was growing up my family moved around a bit, including a couple European countries, some of that time I attended "international" schools; so, I would actually be inclined to use that pluralization, because it "feels right" to me, a fair number of those I might be likely to use the word with would understand (as well as perhaps choose the same as themselves), and it's also not so likely to be misunderstood by those who don't know German. However, there are also languages I am not so familiar with, so for any words "borrowed" from them I would certainly tend towards "Anglicized pluralizations".

Of the case presented of words changing once "imported" to a language - I would further point out that any "living" language is a fluid thing, and so the same holds for "native" words evolving as well; thus, there are few eternal and unchanging absolutes (as in most of life). It's an interesting sort of "informal democracy" in action, where evolutionary genetics are a rather fitting metaphor - selection, crossover, mutation.

Finally - thank you to Mr. Fickett-Wilbar for "octopodes" - an error I'll admit to having made previously, though hopefully will not again ; )

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The real question isn't how WE should pluralize "octopus", but how the ROMANS pluralized the word they'd borrowed into their language from Greek! Maybe the correct (Latin) plural really is "octopi"?

I prefer octopusses anyway, because it rhymes with meese and foxen.

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If we're going to throw pronunciation into this debate, may I make a plea for 'detritus'. It is surely not det try tus but det rit us in the same way as dominus (not dom my nus ) or tin it us not ton eye tus. I suspect we have Americans to thank for the horrors of det try tus and tin eye tus.


As to the other stuff - I'd be delighted if we could manage to maintain the Latin plurals - so enriching to our language.
Are we to have criterions or a criteria? Give me stadia and the medium of radio. Let's remember that 'none' is singular (none is, not none are). Yes, let's communicate clearly with one another but can we not preserve the delight of our language's origins?

Finally, to our dear American friends: would you please stop inverting the meaning of inTernational by pronouncing it innernational? Inter - between; inner - inside of. By your mispronunciation you can turn an international airline into a domestic one. And as for innerim - is that part of a bicycle?

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Through a process known as assimilation, words that were once considered "borrowed" from another language eventually become part of the standard lexicon and may conform to the mechanics of the new language. As Avrom pointed out, many words are in process and can probably go either way. There are no hard-and-fast rules, but here's my taxonomy:

1. Words like forum, stadium and auditorium would be considered throughly assimilated and can be pluralized with "s" even in formal register.
2. Other Latin neuters that are not so fully assimilated and those used in scientific contexts require the Latin pluralization even in informal register: datum, bacterium, agendum (pluralization with "s" would be considered flat-out incorrect).
3. In between are some Latin neuter words that might go one way in informal register and the other way for formal register: aquarium, curriculum, medium.

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I'm sure that there may be some pedants who will disagree with me, but agenda in modern English usage has become a singular noun referring to the list itself. Its plural is agendas. "Data" is teetering on the edge.

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It's very telling, hot4teacher, that one of your pet peeves is the misuse of "who" and "whom", considering that you use "whom" incorrectly in your very first sentence. It's also odd that you're pissed off by people using the word "forums". Are you really claiming that "forums" isn't a standard or "correct" English word? Fora is a Latin plural, correct English, yes, but obscure at best.

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I hate to sound critical, Charlie, but since you seem so adamant, I have to point out that you don't seem to actually understand what the words datum and data actually mean, conceptually. A datum doesn't have to be the smallest indivisible element, a bit, per se. A datum is literally a single piece of information, fact, statistic, etc. It doesn't have to be a single bit or even a single byte. If I enter someone's name, address, credit card number, item purchased, etc. into a computer to generate, say, a purchase order or something, the entire entry, hundreds of bytes is one single datum when viewed in the larger context of all the customers in my database. Sure, if I'm talking about the individual bytes I could call them data if I want to, or I could, just as validly, refer to the single record as a datum. It's purely a matter of what my point of view is. Even an entire three inch thick telephone book containing millions of names can be one single datum if it's sitting on a bookshelf in the library next to a hundred other telephone books for different cities.

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Regarding: "As far as I am aware, the etymological fallacy describes, basically, the necessity for words to hold their original meanings."

I'm sorry, hot4teacher, but the exact opposite is true. The "etymological fallacy" describes the fact that words do NOT hold their original meanings. You're certainly free to believe that they SHOULD hold onto their original meanings, but labelling that belief "etymological fallacy" would be incorrect. That's why it's called a fallacy. It is an agreement in etymological academic circles that such a belief is wrong.

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Folk who claim that languages have 'evolved' when an invalid plural or verb tense becomes commonplace, or a plural starts to be taken as a singular in the manner of many people's usage of 'data' are just making excuses.

How credible would it be if an 8 year old child started complaining that they were still due full marks and that English was 'evolving' if their teacher marked their creative writing story down because it mentioned that a character had 'writed' their name onto a guest book, or for the same character having previously 'seed' a friend doing the same?

What about the same five year old demanding full marks despite saying 'earlier that day my daddy buyed me a new pair of shoes' and what should the parent think when that kid says that her teacher had 'teached' her some new words that day? That English is 'evolving' ?


It's not progress when simplistic verb forms become commonplace, or when spellings are 'simplified', what it is is degeneration. It's a sign that education has been poor so that many many people think incorrect spellings of certain words to be correct and that society has decided to change the dictionary to match the commonest mistakes.

The end result of that is for the homogeneity of the English language, the commonality of the core spellings of related words, to disappear, for it to no longer be possible for people to look at the way a word they haven't seen before is built and to guess its meaning from other similar words in combination with context. Schoolchild errors make it into the dictionary, English becomes simplistic, the common roots of words are forgotten because they no longer look the same and the subtlety that's possible with our wonderful mongrel of a language is lost for good.

Bottom line. English is known, internationally, for it's ability to convey subtle meanings; there are half a dozen ways to say virtually anything more complex than 'the cat sat on the mat' - and in fact there are probably ways to say that, like 'the cat sprawled on the mat'.

The different ways of saying things have very very slightly different meanings, and the right choice of words makes a complex or subtle concept easily and very precisely communicable in only a few words.

The differences in the meanings that the true scholars of English, the writers and the poets, fully grasp and use to get their subtle meanings across in the most beautiful way possible, come from the origins of the words. The true meanings are to be found in the true meanings of the foreign or ancient language words that were 'borrowed' to form English.

Although each of the different words mean *roughly* the same things there are slight differences and you can only really grasp those if you've studied the language and know the roots of the words.

Those roots are no longer visible when someone has decided that it's better to forget that the five year old was never taught how to spell and that it's easier to change the dictionary so everyone spells like a five year old and the original spellings, which came from the original sources of the words and which reveal the true deeper meanings, are forever lost in the brain-dead, uneducated, mush.

Dave J.

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I would agree, but the illustration here is that the anglicized plural forms "agendums" and "datums" could never be justified in the way that "forums" and "stadiums" could, this despite them all being Latin neuters of the same declension. The principle is rather arbitrary and defies sensible codification.

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The OED has a citation for "forums" from 1647, and no citations at all for "fora". I'm guessing that "fora" is a much later innovation based on someone's love of Latin.

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conclusion: "Latin scholars" need to just calm down and accept that they are "scholars" of a language that has been out of use for centuries and in fact, never really was alive to begin with. Classical Latin is like a Brittney Spears routine: a bunch of "ideal" grammar rules that no one ever actually used. It was the Vulgar Latin that was the true living language of the Romans and that language is in fact different in a lot of ways from this Classical Latin that "Latin scholars" derive so much snootiness from.

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading this thread.
I note, at the top of this page, it says 'Forum for the gray areas of the English language'. Suely you mean 'grey'?
I studied 'maths' at my school and use an S where many of your contributors use a Z, for instance pluralization. I didn't even know that word existed!
Perhaps you should say this forum is for the gray areas of the English (US) language.
I believe a lot of misunderstanding is generated by the use of a certain computer company's 'spell check' facility. Even in English (UK) it seems unable to cope with it's (it is) or it's (belonging to it). When you plumb in regional dialects and slang you really do have a problem with this language.
I only came to this thread as I thought forums was probably incorrect (should it be - were incorrect?). Don't bother to answer that one.
I think I'll go back to my work now or onto some more FORUMS!

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What a horrible and aggressive forum this is! So unnecessary - I only came across this by googling forums vs fora and was confronted by this vile diatribe. Sort yourselves out. Go to "inadequate_bully_forums/fora" to continue this sort of nonsense.

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There seems to be an overwhelming problem where the Latin rules are applied to some words but not others. Fora and Media being two examples.

Forums is considered the norm among most of the English-speaking public, no matter how awful it sounds. Whereas media is considered the norm; you would be frowned upon if you used mediums.

I understand the argument where the Latin rule no longer applies as it has been asimilated into our language, but let's face it, the Latin plural sounds much better.

When these words were assimilated the rule for their plurals were assimilated too. Why can't we formally accept that this Latin rule now exists in modern English too as well as way back when?

I always choose to use the Latin plural in speech. Occasionally I do choose to use the word forums with people because I know they will not know what I am saying otherwise. Each time I do I feel a small part of me die inside. It's not snobbery, I am not a Latin or English scholar, it's just a better way of doing things. I know language evolves but it should not be open to bastardisation.

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Two points, in retrospect.

1. It is not as simple as describing a common trajectory of assimilation to the prevailing, base rules, and then placing a word at the start, middle or end of that trajectory. (In this context, start = "fora", middle = "fora" or "forums", and end = "forums". In fact, the way in which a loan word is embedded in the borrowing language varies, and then tends to stabilize: I doubt that we will ever say "bacteriums". One possible reason is the context or timing of the loan: when it occurred and who started the borrowing. So, we should not try to invent rules, but rather we should take part in the process of forming the language by following our preferences and tastes. I like fora because I studied Latin, and I like the sound of it. Until the receiving language has definitively swallowed and digested the loan word, there seems little wrong with looking to the lending language for guidance.

A final thought on this point: fora has a more abstract feel: places or locations of discussion, rather than the plural of internet discussion lists. An analogy might be the use of "program" in British English exclusively for a computer program, and the use of "programme" for other meanings, like a theatre programme or a programme of events, or a political programme.

2. The American singular and the British plural for collective bodies. The original location of this distinction I believe is the way in which a government and its/their actions are described.

"The British government were not inclined to go to war: they felt that the French were seeking to draw the country into a unwarranted and unprofitable adventure, from which little could be gained, and through which much might be lost."

This may be something to do with the principle of Cabinet government, of decisions being made semi-collectively and in debate by a body of people. In this view, the government is a collection of ministers, a plural entity.

The U.S. administration (a term that only recently has been applied to British govenments, incidentally) is perhaps more closely identified with the singular person of the President.

In contemporary British English, I would say that this usage, e.g. "the British government were divided", sometimes has a faintly archaic whiff. Interestingly, "the British Cabinet were divided" is fully in line with current usage. And, yes, it would be normal to speak or write in a London or Edinburgh publication of Microsoft or IBM as "they" not "it".

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I enjoyed reading this all very much.

My favorite: For anyone who takes Latin, like Jenn obviously does (yay, someone else who is a Latin scholar and knows what they are talking about :D) we know all of what Jenn said.

Talking about? I am talking about ending a sentence with a preposition which a Latin scholar should never do.

But since I am an American on the interwebby. The correct pluralization is clearly: 4umz! :D

~David Pahl

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Hot4teacher asserts: "Either all words or only words of English origin should use the plural system." That's a sweeping statement, and at odds with H4T's previous declaration: "There is something very wrong about modifying the English language."

First, just what is this “plural system?”

Pluralization of nouns in English is a messy business, and always has been. The Middle English “en” plural form has been largely abandoned, but we still have “oxen” and “children.” The plural noun “eyen” became “eyes,” while “namen” became “names.”

Most nouns simply receive an "s" at the end. Those that end in sibilant sounds–or near-sibilant sounds–generally add "es." But a word like “quiz” also acquires another “z,” for no obvious reason.

Nouns ending in an "o" preceded by consonant are made plural with “es,” like “potatoes” and “volcanoes,” unless they don’t, like “pianos” and “porticos.”

A noun ending in a “y” after a consonant drops the “y” and adds “ies,” as in “ferries.” Unless, of course, it’s a proper name, as in “the Ferrys.”

Some nouns ending in “f” drop the “f” and add “ves,” as in “knives” and “wolves.” Others, like "cliff" and "serf" merely acquire an “s.”

Nouns ending in in “is” keep the final “s” but swap the preceding i” for an “e,” as in “crises” and “oases.”

And then there are words like “deer” where the plural and singular forms are the same.

Some system! Shall we modify it to something sensible? Or would that be “very wrong?”

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I was on my way through this exchange when I ran across octopodes, and it cheered up my day considerably -- I've made the same comment many times. My quibble comes from the pronunciation of the ending "-i", mostly arising out of composing syllabi (-buses) for my classes. It ought to be "ee", as I understand it. The Latin pronunciation for a word ending in "-i" would be pronounced "-ee", not "-ie". To get a pronunciation that rhymes with "pie" one would need to spell it "-ae". So, to summarize, I compose "syllabee"; the plural of alumnus is actually pronounced "alumnee", and the plural of alumna, the female form, is alumnae, prnounced to rhyme with "pie".

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It seems ridiculous to me that we should have to conform to the grammatical rules of a long dead language - and that never really existed in such a state anyway- when using words long assimilated into our own language. should we correct Russians who use Ñ?портÑ?менa to mean a female athlete? In Spanish forum has evolved into foro, pl foros. the Spanish no longer use Latin case endings, even for words that remain unchanged from the Latin. it sounds wankerish. Imagine what a tosser one would sound if he or she were to say "the decsion fori" to mean "the forum's decision". Bad enough when the prescriptivists pontificate on English, never mind that we should have to suffer the crowing of two thousand year old grammarians by proxy as well!

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Actually the plural of "Schnaps" would be "Schnäpse"

Regards
a native german speaker :-)

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Oh, it's fine is it? Well, I'm glad it's fine that you told me to "get the fuck out" over a misunderstanding that you could have prevented by noting the time stamps of the posts.
In that case, I think it's just fine if whatever I say happens to be insulting to you. That's part of free speech too, after all.
I'm also glad that your atheism is somehow relevant to your belief in free speech and/or your lack of regret in voicing your opinion.

Back on topic... exactly how is it changed for the worse? Seems to me that using "forums" as the plural of "forum," and doing the same for similar words, is the best way to avoid mutilation of English, since that is the most common method of pluralizing in English.

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"I’ve (and you have) provided several examples of how modifying English can be useless, or even changing it for the worse. I don’t see how the use of ‘forums’ instead of ‘fora’ could possibly benefit the English language, other than making it easier for people who are ill-educated or ignorant enough not to know the correct plural of words like ‘forum’."
Because, if we're going to push for unobtainable ideals, the simplest system is best? Because people should not be marked as lacking in education simply because they don't find the subject of English endlessly fascinating, and thus do not know every single rule in our hopelessly entangled language? Or, because the correct plural form in English IS "forums"? It's also "fora," but that's irrelevant to my point.
What prompted the sarcasm to which you so strenuously object is simple; you proposed to protect a language from the very process by which it became the language that you wish to protect. It's hard to point out the obvious without being sarcastic about it. It's even harder when you claim to want to preserve English in it's current state when the current state includes "forums" as a proper plural.

"I had a problem with the fact that you set out to simply take the piss at me with your sarcasm and smart-arsed attitude."
What, so my point is irrelevant just because I used sarcasm to make it? Also, I use sarcasm quite regularly in person, and frequently to make points, so I doubt that I would hesitate just because you happen to be easily offended.

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Pffff...

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Forums or Fora? Does not mater an iotume which you use!

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I thought I'd point out that "Cherubim" is used as a plural in English already--I've never heard of an instance where "cherubims" was (incorrectly) used. The singular is cherub, however, and I have heard "cherubs" used incorrectly many times (it should be cherubim).

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Quirin, I truly enjoyed your insightful post, but I hope yo won't mind if I nitpick about something as well. Using your logic, if the word were native to latin, not only should the plural of octopus be octopedes, but the (anglicized?) SINGULAR should be octopede, NOT octope. After all, expanding your own analogy, the singular of centipedes is centipede, not centope. Remember, it is the number of feet that is pluralized, not the actual number of animals (centipede means one aniimal having a hundred feet, not a hundred foot)

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Stumbled upon this discussion after mentioning 'fora' on a football fans website Forum. Bearing in mind that the British Isles have been conquered many times over the millenia(or should it be milleniums?) our language has evolved using various elements from each of the conquerors ; eg 'a la carte'. We often use the adage ' when in Rome do as the Romans would do' . Therefore should the 'Roman' plural of forum not be used ; ie fora?

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Please, people can' even gt the distinction between 'fruit' and 'fruits' right. Let's not get too pedantic or emotional here!

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We all have off days. Grammatical errors, once in a while, should be disregarded.

Charlie, are you implying that only 'data' should have a place in our language because we can only enter at least 8 bits into our computer with every keystroke? We can (just about) boil down every piece of information into smaller units, but that doesn't disregard the importance of each 'datum'. Merriam-Webster defines data as being "something given or admitted especially as a basis for reasoning or inference". Each datum is simply a piece of information, regardless of the memory it takes up in a computer (which, for the record, consists of a series of 1's and 0's - each being a single datum). A datum could just be one's measurement of a specific length.

Please note that if this is not what you were implying, then I apologize. Tone is often very difficult to gather when reading plain text. I wasn't sure if you were being a smart-arse or were being serious.

For the record, Charlie, what is your take on 'forums'/'fora'? Your posts seem rather ambiguous and off-topic (to say the least).

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It's amazing to see that there are still so many people who take pride in a language. English is not my native language, so I cringe when "native" speakers use words so lightly.

Anyway, back to the current topic. MS Word doesn't recognize "fora" as a valid word, even auto-corrects it while I'm typing. So there you have it, Bill Gates has decreed that fora is not the correct plural. End of story.

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Merriam-Webster dates the use of "forum" in English to the 15th century. When a word borrowed from another language has been part of English for a long time it is proper to use the "English-based plural system." Thus we say "forums," not "fora," and "stadiums," not "stadia." If you are referring to ancient Roman places, you might be justified in using the Latin plural form. But to refer to places where football is played as "stadia" or to on-line discussion groups–even this one–as "fora" can sound affected. It's not wrong to do so, but it's pedantic to insist on it.

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"I am getting angrier the more I read. there is not a single post completely devoid of any grammatical error or some mistake in punctuation."


"...example used mkes no sence."

sence?

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hot4teacher ..... Please allow me to clarify the issue of Penalty v Free Kick in the game of soccer. The referee does not "penalise" when awarding a free kick as a penalty is something which is imposed, thus implying a loss for the team that is penalised. A free kick, as with a throw-in, ensures that possession of the ball remains with the team who were victims of a technical offence by the other side. A penalty, on the other hand, is a scoring opportunity awarded for a serious or deliberate breach of the rules within a set area of play.

In rugby, a penalty may be awarded anywhere on the field of play and the beneficiaries may score points as a direct result. A team cannot score points as a direct result of a free kick .

In soccer, a penalty kick may only be awarded for an offence committed within the penalty box . The only person who can prevent the penalty-taker from scoring is the defending goalkeeper. A free kick may be awarded anywhere on the field of play. An indirect free kick may be awarded for a technical offence and the kicker may not score directly from that kick. A direct free kick is similar to a penalty but anyone may prevent the ball from reaching the goal.

Basically, a penalty in football is a free shot at goal, within certain parameters, whereas a free kick is exactly that.

The terms are neither the same nor interchangeable within the rules.

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Hmmm! For someone who sets such store by the english language I'm surprised that the bastardisation of the laws of football should get by you so easily. The rules of soccer (as opposed to the game of kicking a bladder about) were invented at Eton College, England, in 1815 and at no time is the term "indirect penalty" used.

However, I'm not a pedant and you are entitled to refer to the term in any way you choose. That's what living languages are about, are they not ? :-)

PS I bow to your superior rugby national team. I specifically haven't mentioned cricket as I think it's like watching paint dry!

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I've just read on a forum post "foras" and I have to admit it was cringe-making.

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hot4teacher: "... just because people say things one way, doesn’t mean that this way is correct."
Actually, that's exactly what it means. What we call the "definition" of a word is, in reality, simply the most commonly agreed upon usage.
If the majority did accept "ploorul" as the proper spelling, then so it would be. If this were not the case, the entire world would still be speaking a single language or perhaps somewhere between three to five languages in total. If you CAN'T accept this, then why are you typing in English and not (one of) the original language(s)?
As an aside, if languages were only decided by some elite subset, do you really think the WIND would be blowing outside while you WIND your clock? Be a cruel joke to play, indeed.

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"I cannot control the environment in which I was brought up; this doesn’t stop me from believing that the way that languages alter (incorrectly imo) is wrong. If I could, I would ensure that everyone speaks the language correctly and at least attempt to prevent further deterioration of modern linguistics (part of the reason why I am on this discussion board)."
So, let me get this straight, you think that by complaining about the way language mutates, and has always mutated, you are going to fix it?
If your point is that it's an ineffective method, then I agree. If your point is that, because it's an ineffective method, we should stop doing it, then I have to ask by what means you intend to enforce this change.

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"none" has been both singular and plural since at least 888 AD. So much for the "language's origins" argument.

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My second post was in addition to the first. I did not refresh the site in between making the two, so I had no idea you had posted, thus your post between them had no bearing on the second post.
I tried to forestall that on my last post by refreshing before I posted; but, somehow the comment to which I'm currently responding was not visible before I posted my last comment despite the time stamps showing yours having been up for eight minutes before mine.

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If they're both in use, then they're both correct - and you interchange them for stylistic purposes.

A passage by David Crystal from 'Words Words Words'; "The choice between alternative noun plurals is a fairly easy one. Is it formulas or formulae? Cactuses or cacti? Referendums or referenda? The regular -s ending is usually the more informal and colloquial. The classical ending is the more technical, learned, or formal. If I am a plant amateur, I will probably say cactuses when I see more than one of them. But if I am a cactus aficionado, I will almost certainly say cacti."

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"I agree with you 100%, as shown in my previous posts."

Except that you presumably don't agree that the etymological fallacy is a fallacy, while I do. Language change is an observed fact of all languages. It is natural and inevitable. We can all complain about it, but we can't stop it. We've been using language for thousands and thousands of years, and it has been changing all that time. If language change was bad, then how can we still communicate.

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hot4teacher:

I sense from your remarks that you misunderstand the concept of the “etymological fallacy.”

In any event, simply citing an example–stamina–does not an argument make. Moreover, to advocate for ‘stamina’ as a plural for ‘stamen’ undermines the case for keeping to Latin plurals, since it can be easily confused with the same word in the sense of ‘endurance.’ I notice that Merriam-Webster lists ‘stamens’ as the preferred plural as early as 1947, and labels the plural form ‘stamina’ as “now rare.”

You have also missed the point of my second comment, which is that Franklin lost this particular battle with progress.

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Why don't you two just go & get a room?

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The plural in Latin of forum is not fori. Fori is the singular genitive. The nominative (and accusative) plural of forum is indeed fora.

For nouns, Latin dictionaries usually give the nominative and genitive singulars, so that students will know what declension the noun is in.

Fori identifies forum as being a noun of the second declension. This affects the way the other cases are formed. But nearly all neuter nouns, of all declensions, take the "a" as the ending in the nominative/accusative plural.

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We were talking about statistics in a maths lesson and my maths teacher referred to strata as a singular noun. He then proceeded to talk about the different 'stratas' of a sample of the population. Is this correct, because I thought it was meant to be one stratum, many strata?

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Brill! Wot a great thread. B4 I red this i wuz ignorant of the originz of many of my words. Ive learnt a lot. Ta.

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Hi

I've looked a trailer for the "2012". I was interested in this theme.
Please advise me a good site on this topic.
And what do you think about the end of the world 2012.

Thanks.

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>
>...and I have heard "cherubs" used incorrectly many
>times (it should be cherubim).
>

What do you mean, Jennchick? "Cherubs" is also an accepted pluralization of "cherub", at least according to all my dictionaries.

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@My Two Cents - so presumably:

Beethoven wrote five piano concerti and several piano sonati
The BBC has two symphony orchestre
The TV show should have been called 'The Soprani'
Shall I order two pizze?
Our village has several holiday ville
These paintings are repliche of the originals
Our school has two motti
The film company has studi in Hollywood
The police found two headless torsi
We went to the cathedral to look at the freschi
I saw an opera on Monday and another today so that's two opere this week already
She's having spaghetti and I'm having spaghetti, so that's two spaghetti, please.

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Also, taliban is plural of talib, but...

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this is an old, old thread, just discovered it. But as a former Latin scholar I wanted to address Steven's discrepancy between the pronunciation of the "i" ending.

I was taught that in the scholarly latin "i" is pronounced "ee" and in the Church latin it is pronounced "aye". Foots with what I've heard in most latin masses as well. . . and what I experienced in my Jesuit HS classes.

Incidentally, pretentious or not, I use "fora," it's simpler to explain to someone who doesn't know latin than using "forums," and having to answer to fellow latin scholars.

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I am getting angrier the more I read. there is not a single post completely devoid of any grammatical error or some mistake in punctuation. We might as well all start using text speak and using modernisms such as "or whatever" when we have difficulty correctly terminating our sentences.

I despair!

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For those whom are against the correct use of the English language, you are all idiots. Why would you use an incorrect spelling/form of a word if you know that it is incorrect and you know what the correct spelling/form is. It pisses me off when I hear someone say forums instead of fora (and to make my point even stronger, this word processor has found fora to be spelled incorrectly!). If you are going to speak English speak it properly.

I don't mind the use of acronyms such as LOL or WTF, considering the fact that their sole purpose is to quicken typing speeds.

Other incorrect spellings or usages that give me the sh!ts are: ATM "machines", the incorrect use of "who" and "whom", the incorrect use of pronouns, the incorrect use of punctuation, the use of "pronounciation" instead of "pronunciation", and the list goes on.

If you know the correct spelling/use of a word, then use it! If you don't, then go back to school and learn how to!

It also pisses me off when people tell me I'm wrong for calling a "free kick" in soccer a "penalty"! They tell me "It's not a penalty, it's just a free kick." to which I reply "It is a penalty! The opposition is being 'penalised' by giving the attacking team a free kick!"

That's my 2c.

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I skipped from 2007 forward, so this may have been covered. Those people arguing that we shouldn't be bound by 'foreign' rules should presumable bear in mind that pretty well all our language is from some invader or other. Hence the plural of child should be childs not children (Saxon), ox -> oxs, and I can't remember the other example.

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@searchguru
Re: it's and it's: The reason that spell check isn't doing what you expect is that it's is an abbrviation of it is wheras the possessive term is actually "its" not "it's", as in "its mine".
@AO, "Doesn't all this brujaja boil down to horrendously lasting influence of the medieval English grammarians who, convinced that Latin was the purest language, decided that English could be analyzed according to Latin grammatical paradigms? "
I don't think that the current greek/latin root confusion dates back to medieval grammarians but to Dr. Johnson, the author of the first English dictionary, who decided which words he thought had Latin roots and which had Greek (often very badly). It's (not its!) all been downhill since then.
For some excellent writing on the origins of the English language and its correct use see Bill Bryson's "Mother Tongue" and "Troublesome Words" and also "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" by Lynne Truss regarding the reils of punctuation.
Bill points out that the assumption that it's (not its) correct to use an "S", not a "Z", is a common misconception in the UK and that many spellings with z in can be traced back some considerable time; i.e. before the Americans decided to standardise all the spellings in bizare ways. (E.g. Color, not colour, armor not armour, etc.) From this you can tell I'm English not American. (I'd have gone for culler, armer or armur, etc.!)

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In response to DamonTarlaei's comment the plural of Octopus is not Octopi. The word Octopus derives from a Greek root not a Latin root, Okta meaning eight and pous meaning foot . The correct plural is in fact Octopodes however most find this pedantic. When not using Octopodes the only acceptable alternative is Octopuses.

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"Forum" has 2 meanings. Firstly it is a meeting or discussion group, secondly it is a meeting place. The plural of the first (i.e. more than one meeting) is "forums"; the plural of the second (i.e. more than one meeting place) is "fora". Therefore you could have the following description of a typical working day: "I participated in 2 forums at 2 seperate fora". Having said that, it would be clearer to say: "I participated in 2 discussions at 2 different venues".

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I landed on this page in the hope of finding out whether to write Fora or Forums, turns out both ways may be right. In addition I found some BS argument between a bunch of buggers with too much time on their hands.

Please use that energy to better the world instead.

Oh, and thanks Steve.

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Ha ha! What a brilliant thread! I still prefer the latin plurals. One of the comments about prepositions brought this to mind:


I lately lost a preposition;
It hid, I thought, beneath my chair
And angrily I cried, "Perdition!
Up from out of under there."

Correctness is my vade mecum,
And straggling phrases I abhor,
And yet I wondered, "What should he come
Up from out of under for?"
-- Morris Bishop

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Sorry - I'm going to have to come down squarely on the side of "Forums" here. When we use the word while speaking English, it is no longer a Latin word. It is an English word, so English convention should preside. Useage is the determining factor here. How do folks use it? Overwhelmingly, they use "Forums". It's "Forums"

All of the arguments I've seen here referencing Latin useage and historical useage pale. I'm not saying they're invalid, just inconsequetial.

So I'll know what folks mean if they bring up "Fora", but their tweed will be showing.

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Since when is it considered "pretentious" to speak and write the English language correctly?

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Pretentious or not, we might well say "radii", not "radiuses", "alumni", not "alumnuses" and "millennia" not "millenniums". I wouldn't even consider "millennia" a foreign word, merely an English, slightly irregular plural.

If this discussion has demonstrated anything it is that we can't trust that rules or practices will apply to every example.

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I'm sorry to hear criteria being used in the singular instead of criterion.
Similarly, 'phenomenon',
Skeet

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In general, clearly, foreign singulars and plurals are retained when a word is newly introduced but in time the word is naturalized. Remember, vast swathes of English are foreign words that have been gradually absorbed into the mother tongue.

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Just found this old thread at the top of a Google search for "plural of forum."

Amusingly, another of the results was this page:
http://www.njcl.org/forums/faq.asp

Shouldn't that URL be www.njcl.org/fora/faq.asp? I mean, it *is* the NJCL after all. :-)

Jack

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Jim, my argument over penalties and free kicks was solely that a free-kick is a way of penalising one team, by offering their opponents a free-kick.

You implied that the term penalty refers to a direct inhibition of one teams chances, but this doesn't really differentiate between penalties and free-kicks. A penalty (or direct as we call them in Aus) is essentially a free kick that gives more of an advantage to the attack, rather than 'taking anything away' from the opposition. The defense is penalised in both cases.

I can't really speak for other countries, but here in Australia, we refer to (what you call) free-kicks as indirect penalties, and (what you call) penalties as direct penalties.

Either way the team is penalised by giving an advantage to their opposition.

P.S. I am familiar with the rules - I played plenty of soccer and rugby.

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Are you good English speakers ordering two capuccini from the café and several pizze for dinner? I wonder if there exists fora to discuss the extent of this argument.

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Hot4teacher, I think I have to agree, at least in th abstract. If the only thing a free kick accomplishes is to set the possession of the ball without a direct opportunity to score, then clearlly, the mere possession does increase the probability of future scoring even if only slightly, so calling it a penalty seems reasonable. I suppose the only other consideration is the reason the possession is handed over. If possession is handed over, say, simply out of fairness because the other team just scored, then it wouldn't be a penalty (please don't criticize if this doesn't actually happen. I know squat about sports rules. I know this happens in informal basketball games).

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Also, regarding: "Yes I am claiming that. Since the word “forum” is a Latin word used in the English language, I do not see how using the English-based plural system would apply."

Hot4teacher, using the English-based plural system ALWAYS applies. forum is NOT a Latin word used in the English language. It is an ENGLISH word whose origin is Latin. While we're at it, “octopuses”, “radiuses”, and “fishes” are all correct. If you want to be prescriptive about it, using the Latin plural is considererd irregular (not incorrect), and generally only preferred for words of technical origin. Of the words you listed, only "radiuses" is unusual (but still not incorrect). Oh, and I can hardly wait. Just what do you think the plural of "octopus" should be?

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This was quite entertaining, and has given me a great laugh on this otherwise bland afternoon. I personally agree that Latin plurals probably aren't widely accepted today, but why stop there. Why not use other Latin forms of the words. It would cut many uses of the word "of." :)

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First off, Douglas, this is a discussion board - and we can do without the individually aimed smart-arse sarcasm. I'm here to put forward my opinion, not to be ridiculed.

I understand that the plural system has changed in the advancement of the English language, and had I been around at the time of these changes I probably would have disagreed.

"Some system! Shall we modify it to something sensible? Or would that be “very wrong?”"
It is a reasonably complex system, but students are taught English all of the way through school, up until Uni, in which time the we become able to use the system almost subconsciously. Modifying the system would be wrong, because it would give us reason to modify the entire language so as to make every word easy to spell, probably followed by simplifying the grammatical rules and punctuation, until we end up with a language system not unlike binary code.

If we are do not use the 'original' English language correctly, then why should we use it at all? Why should we have to spell things correctly? Why can't we just spell everything the way it sounds?

My simplest answer would be for the sake of everyone else. The language itself is used as a means of communication. A communication that may only be made if all parties understand the language - which I believe would, most generally, require us all to use the 'same' language 'correctly'.

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Douglas, you appear to be very well educated in English linguistics, for which I respect you. Your quotes create a very formidable argument. Due to my upbringing, I understand and somewhat agree with B. Garner in that a words origin may be ignored if it is used and naturalized in another language (and that more obscure or rare words may not be). But I assert that if you know the original plural, you might as well use it. I don't think it is necessarily wrong if you anglicize the plural, just that for common words like radii and fora, the original plural form is pretty widely recognized and so one would have no real excuse not to use it.

I do concede, though, that it would be acceptable to use an anglicized plural for a word with a plural form that is rather obscure and not widely known (I didn't know that platypodes was the plural for platypus, and I'm Australian!).

Having said that, I think that the education system might be in a better place should the English faculties concentrate more on correct linguistics, grammar and punctuation; and less on how to decompose and analyze texts. I may see it differently to others, considering I haven't studied English since high school (I am an Engineering student).

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Goofy’s list of words borrowed from plural Latin nouns is an interesting one. Set aside ‘graffiti.’ which is not, indeed, from Latin but Italian; its singular, ‘graffito,’ remains an Italian word, even if it does appear in English dictionaries (as does hors d'oeuvre, to cite another non-naturalized immigrant).

The ramaining words fall into three groups:

The first group consists of words that are singular and have accepted English-style plurals: agenda, opera, candelabra. (The last, ‘candelabra,’ should probably not be included, since it enters modern English via Middle and Old English, from Latin.) I’m not sure why these are even mentioned. What is the controversy?

The second group are mass nouns: erotica, paraphernalia, and trivia. These cannot be directly assigned a numeric quantity, and are treated grammatically as singular: “The teenager’s erotica was [not were] found under his mattress.” Hot4teacher took Goofy’s bait on this one: “...most of their singular forms are still used in modern English.” What, exactly, is the singular of paraphernalia? Paraphernalium? Merriam-Webster says it is a “noun plural but singular or plural in construction.” As if that helps. The word originally referred to a bride’s excess stuff, beyond her dowry. How could that be singular?

The third group–bacteria, data, and media–are plural in standard English, but are increasingly being used both as singular and as mass nouns. The phrase “a type of bacteria” is technically incorrect, but commonly heard and read, especially in the media. ‘Media’ has itself become a mass noun when applied to television, radio, and printed journalism. The transition is not complete; the phrase “the media are” is still used. But ‘media’ as a mass noun is probably unstoppable, like the thing itself.

‘Data’ is similar to ‘media.’ Garner calls it a “skunked term,” and advises against using it. I wonder how that is working out for him. He begins, “...whether you write ‘data are’ or ‘data is,’ you’re going to make some readers raise their eyebrows.”He concludes: “Perhaps 50 years from now–maybe sooner, maybe later–the term will no longer be skunked: everybody will accept it as a collective. But not yet.” How time flies.

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Dave Rattigan says:

Since hardly anyone actually uses "fora" as the plural of "forum", I tend to regard it as a bit pretentious when it gets thrown into a conversation.

"Forums" is fine - we're modern English folk, not ancient Romans. :¬)


If you're modern fold, then don't use an ancient Roman word.

The singular of data is datum. I never hear anyone say "datas."

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I believe Forums is better if you are writing in English.
English borrows words from many languages, but that doesn't mean we have to use the associated grammar too.
As for the quality of some of the postings here from the inappropriately monikered "Hot4Teacher"; It's poor.
There is no set rule for plurals of Latin words borrowed for use in English.
Just be careful you are not just showing off some vain opinion of superiority you may be holding on to.
When You say "Fora" What you may be using is the compound word ForaOfCourseYouKnowTheLatinPluralDon'tYou?No?OhSorryToProveI'mOfASuperiorEducationalKLevelToYouThankYouI'llTakeYourSilenceAsASubmission.
Forums will do, thank you.

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Oh, yes, and if you insist on using English, then shouldn't you be using "plurel" from Middle English? No, wait, you should be using the Latin "pl?r?lis." No, that's wrong too, you should be using whatever form the word took in the language that Latin mutated from.

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"Oh, yes, and if you insist on using English, then shouldn’t you be using “plurel” from Middle English? No, wait, you should be using the Latin “pl?r?lis.” No, that’s wrong too, you should be using whatever form the word took in the language that Latin mutated from."

First off, I already had a go at someone for posting for the sake of 'taking the piss' at me, this is a discussion board. Post constructively or get the f**k out.

If you'd read my last post, you would understand why what you just said had already been answered.

"“Etymological fallacy” is an important concept, but it has little relevence to the issue of the correct pluralization of imported nouns."

As far as I am aware, the etymological fallacy describes, basically, the necessity for words to hold their original meanings. Having said that, I would also associate this fallacy with words holding their original contextual acceptability. By this I mean that words holding their original meanings, would (within reason) require their original contextual uses to be held as well (the misuse of a word can essentially change the literal meaning of that word. E.g. using a plural word as a singular form.).

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"My second post was in addition to the first. I did not refresh the site in between making the two, so I had no idea you had posted, thus your post between them had no bearing on the second post."

I see, that's fine.

"So, let me get this straight, you think that by complaining about the way language mutates, and has always mutated, you are going to fix it?
If your point is that it’s an ineffective method, then I agree. If your point is that, because it’s an ineffective method, we should stop doing it, then I have to ask by what means you intend to enforce this change."

At no point did I (nor do I) expect that my ranting would produce any change whatsoever, I am simply voicing my opinion. I said "If I could, I would... ".

I do believe that it's an ineffective method, and consequently believe that there is no need to continue to alter the already mutilated language that is English. I see no point in changing things for the worse, and, as I eluded to earlier, I am certain that my opinion will not enforce any change whatsoever. I am, however, an atheist and believe strongly in free speech, which is why I hold no regrets in voicing my opinion.

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Douglas wrote:
“The etymological fallacy holds, erroneously, that the original or historical meaning of a word or phrase is necessarily similar to its actual present-day meaning.”

I would interpret it a little more broadly: the original or historical usage or a word or phrase is necessarily similar to its actual present-day meaning. Not just the meaning, but how the word is used, including pluralization.

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This whole "none" thing is really much simpler than it seems. Consider:

1 - No [singular noun] is...
2 - No [plural noun] are...
3 - Not any [singular noun] is...
4 - Not any [plural noun] are...
5 - Not one [singular noun] is...

Every one of the above can be replaced by "None is/are..." as appropriate.

The context will tell you what the intent is and which is correct.

Examples:

No dogs are allowed in the house
None are allowed in the house.

No contestant is the victor until all have played.
None is the victor until all have played.

As the quoted usage note suggests, it's usually plural and not singular unless unless clearly, uneguivocably, and unambiguously so. I guess this makes sense, since if someone were to use it in the singular, I would think he or she would be more likely to just use "no one". Example: "No one is home" would sound pretty awkward as "none is home" wouldn't it?

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"Oh, it’s fine is it? Well, I’m glad it’s fine that you told me to “get the fuck out” over a misunderstanding that you could have prevented by noting the time stamps of the posts.
In that case, I think it’s just fine if whatever I say happens to be insulting to you. That’s part of free speech too, after all."

Your post that I had a problem with was made prior to any reply I had made. I had no problem with the fact that you repeated a question that I had already asked. I had a problem with the fact that you set out to simply take the piss at me with your sarcasm and smart-arsed attitude.

I am a fan of free speech, but I am not a fan of taking unprovoked shots at people. I respect that you said it (at least indirectly) to me, but I would like to see you insult me face-to-face. I think you may have second thoughts then.

"Back on topic… exactly how is it changed for the worse? Seems to me that using “forums” as the plural of “forum,” and doing the same for similar words, is the best way to avoid mutilation of English, since that is the most common method of pluralizing in English."

I've (and you have) provided several examples of how modifying English can be useless, or even changing it for the worse. I don't see how the use of 'forums' instead of 'fora' could possibly benefit the English language, other than making it easier for people who are ill-educated or ignorant enough not to know the correct plural of words like 'forum'.

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"I would interpret it a little more broadly: the original or historical usage or a word or phrase is necessarily similar to its actual present-day meaning. Not just the meaning, but how the word is used, including pluralization."

I agree with you 100%, as shown in my previous posts.

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Sorry for triple posting.
When I said " repeated a question that I had already asked", I obviously meant to say "that I had already answered". Just to avoid any confusion.

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"What prompted the sarcasm to which you so strenuously object is simple; you proposed to protect a language from the very process by which it became the language that you wish to protect. It’s hard to point out the obvious without being sarcastic about it. It’s even harder when you claim to want to preserve English in it’s current state when the current state includes “forums” as a proper plural."

I've implied through earlier posts that I believe that the way the English language was used SHOULD be maintained. The fact that most people nowadays can barely speak our current language gives me little or no hope at all. I am not stupid. I know that we won't go back to speaking the original forms of the English language, but that doesn't mean that I cannot feel the need to maintain the language that many hold to be correct.

"What, so my point is irrelevant just because I used sarcasm to make it? Also, I use sarcasm quite regularly in person, and frequently to make points, so I doubt that I would hesitate just because you happen to be easily offended."

The necessity to use sarcasm to prove a point is a very popularly disliked trait in the modern world. I am almost certain that, should you see me in person, you wouldn't think to piss me off. This isn't a threat. I am merely identifying the fact that the internet holds a specious barrier for protecting you. If you talk this way in real life (as you admitted that you do) I am certain that (if at least being widely disliked) you will push someone to far, and it would be very unfortunate if that person was 200cm tall and 115kg.

Your point could have easily been made without sarcasm. There is nothing wrong with being honest. I promote honesty, and if you disagree with me then that's fine. You could have easily said "I disagree with you" rather than take the piss at me.

"I’m sorry, hot4teacher, but the exact opposite is true. The “etymological fallacy” describes the fact that words do NOT hold their original meanings. You’re certainly free to believe that they SHOULD hold onto their original meanings, but labelling that belief “etymological fallacy” would be incorrect. That’s why it’s called a fallacy. It is an agreement in etymological academic circles that such a belief is wrong."

It seems that my post had been set out poorly. What I meant was that the etymological fallacy is a fallacy regarding "the necessity for words to hold their original meanings.". I didn't mean to say that the etymological fallacy implied that words should actually keep their original meanings. At no point did I agree or disagree with it, I simply described how/why it could also apply to punctuation/pluralization.

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In ‘The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics,’ P. H. Matthews defines the etymological fallacy as “The notion that the ‘true’ meaning of a word is the one to be expected from its etymology.” I don’t see how this can be used as an argument on either side of this pluralization debate. No convincing case has been made here.

As for “preserving” English, people wiser than we have objected to the evolution of English usage. In 1789 Benjamin Franklin wrote to Noah Webster complaining about the then-recent formation of verbs from the substantive words ‘notice,’ advocate’ and ‘progress.’ He urged Webster: “If you should happen to be of my opinion with respect to these innovations you will use your authority in reprobating them.” (Imagine: Ben Franklin opposing innovation!) I don’t know what Webster’s response was, but all three verbs are still with us, and the language is better for it.

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"In ‘The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics,’ P. H. Matthews defines the etymological fallacy as “The notion that the ‘true’ meaning of a word is the one to be expected from its etymology.” I don’t see how this can be used as an argument on either side of this pluralization debate. No convincing case has been made here."

The true meaning of 'stamina' is 'a collective of more than one stamen', i.e. the 'true' meaning of 'stamina' is a plural, and so the etymological fallacy would describe that "the 'true' meaning of" stamina "is the one to be expected from its etymology", and, as I have just pointed out, this meaning describes a plural.

"As for “preserving” English, people wiser than we have objected to the evolution of English usage. In 1789 Benjamin Franklin wrote to Noah Webster complaining about the then-recent formation of verbs from the substantive words ‘notice,’ advocate’ and ‘progress.’ He urged Webster: “If you should happen to be of my opinion with respect to these innovations you will use your authority in reprobating them.” (Imagine: Ben Franklin opposing innovation!) I don’t know what Webster’s response was, but all three verbs are still with us, and the language is better for it."

It's good to see that someone is on my side. Benjamin Franklin. Enough said.

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Douglas wrote
"In ‘The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics,’ P. H. Matthews defines the etymological fallacy as “The notion that the ‘true’ meaning of a word is the one to be expected from its etymology.” I don’t see how this can be used as an argument on either side of this pluralization debate. No convincing case has been made here."

OK, then don't call it the etymological fallacy. Call it the, I don't know, argument from Latin or something. The point is that it doesn't make sense to argue that words we've borrowed should be used, spelled, pluralized, declined, conjugated in the same way they were used, spelled, pluralized, declined, conjugated in the language they were borrowed from. For instance, it's a mistake to say that the "real" plural of "forum" is "fora" because that's how it was pluralized in Latin. Such a claim ignores the facts of English.

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Dave Johnson: It's the "the true scholars of English, the writers and the poets" who are using the words you're complaining about. Well, maybe not the poets, but good writers of all kinds use "forums" and "data" as a mass noun in carefully edited text.

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goofy, each person is only a product of their environment - the language in which they speak is the language of which they were taught. In the modern world, the English teachers at primary and secondary schools are hardly the greatest speakers of the language. Hell, in primary school I often corrected my own teacher's grammar!

It has taken a long time for the English language to evolve (or, more appropriately, de-evolve) into it's current state. It's not as though we can just stop where we are and return to speaking in 5th Century English, or Classical Latin, or whatever.

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Herein lies the evolution of "stamina" from it's Latin origin "st?men":
http://www.languagehat.com/archives/003141.php
It's not entirely clear from the above, but I believe that this usage mutated separately from the "stamen" of a plant.
Actually, I wonder if "stamen" mutated at all. I can imagine the person studying flowers looking at the small strand within a flower and thinking, "that looks like a thread, I think I'll name it using the Latin word for 'thread.'"

Again, following a simplistic system would be the ideal. According to the rules of English (ha, like English has rules, better to call them "guidelines"), the plural of "stamen" should be "stamens" and not "stamina." Otherwise, when we speak of the "stamina of flowers," how do others know if we speak of their ability to thrive, or the protrusions within them? (See, the points are so boring without the spice of sarcasm.)

"I know that we won’t go back to speaking the original forms of the English language, but that doesn’t mean that I cannot feel the need to maintain the language that many hold to be correct."
This is what I find ridiculous, and therefore, deserving of ridicule:
Imagine that the entire history and the entire future of language is a long, constantly morphing line. You've decided that this line should stop at a particular point, simply because you exist there. That's rather arbitrary, and supremely arrogant, isn't it?

Douglas, I object to your supposition that simply because people are dead, famous, and considered intelligent, they are somehow wiser than living people to whom you have little cause to know the wisdom of.

hot4teacher, I need to inform you that you've given me all of the ammunition I need to quite effectively ream you, and a strong desire to do so, but I'd like to keep such invective off of a forum dedicated to intellectual topics.

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So many different points made by so many individuals who each feel strongly enough about the English language to post on here. Some angry enough to present 'typos' themselves, some with totally opposite points of view. It just goes to show that however passionate we are about what is right or wrong with our language, there will always be change and there will always be someone who disagrees with us. In ten years' time every one of us will be even more horrified by the new entries in the dictionary but do not despair - you now know that you will not be the only one dismayed!

I love you all, since at least you care.

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So to summarise. Language evolves, and with each iterative change there are cries of "incorrect usage". Most of these, such as "teached", are not accepted by the public at large, and they don't make it into the accepted lexicon; others, such as "eyes", outlive the original "eyen" and become accepted.

There is no authority, just the free market of usage, except that the free market has guides. This forum is one such guide. The people who have argued their case here are contributing to whether "forums" or "fora" becomes more accepted in the future. Although the debate has been around for centuries, it is the rise of the internet that has made the word "forum" far more widespread and the debate more relevant.

My favourite suggestion came from rickdalaglio back in April 09 – use "fora" for meeting places, "forums" for discussion groups, in much the same way as "media" and "mediums" are both used as plurals for different meanings of "medium". That said, the one that gains greatest acceptance will become the "correct" plural.

Incidentally, this may all be moot in a few short decades. Nobody has posed the obvious question: "why do we need plurals?"

Norse and Anglo-Saxon traders coming together in York to trade realised their words were similar enough in root that they communicated better if they dispensed with grammatical gender, thus English lost most traces of masculine, feminine and neuter. Is the language any less rich?

They also dispensed with most inflections, with only plurality, possession and the occasional oddity like "whom" remaining. Do we feel English is poorer because of this?

In number, we retain singular and plural, but don't have the Ancient Greek-derived dual (except in oddities such as "trousers" and "pants"). Should we mourn its passing?

Chinese and Vietnamese possess no plural – they have no "number" as English has no "gender". A Chinese speaker may learn English and wonder why we need to differentiate between "one car" and "two cars" when the words "one" and "two" do it for us. They may be as baffled as some English speakers are about the purpose of gender in French and Latin, or the dual number in Homer.

If we don't have a separate inflection for "two of something", why do we require to differentiate between "one of something" and "more than one of something". We don't need separate inflections for two, three or four, why should one be treated differently from other numbers?

So, "fora" or "forums"? Well, why not "forum"? Why do we need to inflect? "This is one of the best forum I've visited"; "I posted on three forum today"; "Of all the forum, this is the testiest". Yep. Works for me.

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Perhaps we reserve "fora" for more than one enclosed, unroofed meeting place and "forums" for more than one purposive small group. I have lately tended to pefer "fomulas" instead of "formulae" - the world moves on.
Greater problem, people who use "one bacteria, two bacteria" or "one criteria, two criteria" - illiterate usage that is a growing infestation.

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@SteveWParker ... I can't speak for Chinese. I kno just enuff Japanese to be truly benighted in the tung and it has very few plurals but it does hav a rather complicated way of showing plurals that I'd rather not go to.

There are times (<<<plural of time) that it comes in handy. For byspel ... Don't forget yur books. There is no number or verb form to betoken whether I'm talking about one book or many books ... only the plural noun form shows that.

Aside from that, English went thru a radical plural form change at the same time it dropped the genders and cases. So there was the opportunity once before to drop them but the speakers chose not to. We'v had the same plural forms for several hundred years now. I don't see them dropping out in the coming years any more than expect to see the articles (a, an, the) drop out. (Russian doesn't hav them.)

It's only owing to Latin's snob appeal that we are still having these arguments about the plural of Latin words when benoted in English. Most loanwords swiftly become anglicized with the regular English form of taking an 's'. We don't argue about oblast/oblasts even tho oblasts isn't the Russian plural. It's taking a little longer with the Latin words but it is happening.

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Wiggy, you are correct. Stratum is the singular, strata is the plural. Sometimes technical subjects have their own vocabulary, but not in this case. Do note, however, that it's "math lesson" and "math teacher", not "maths lesson" and "maths teacher". You don't want to make the very same mistake as your teacher!

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From Dictionary.com:

"Usage note Since none has the meanings &ldquo;not one&rdquo; and &ldquo;not any,&rdquo; some insist that it always be treated as a singular and be followed by a singular verb: The rescue party searched for survivors, but none was found. However, none has been used with both singular and plural verbs since the 9th century. When the sense is &ldquo;not any persons or things&rdquo; (as in the example above), the plural is more common: &hellip; none were found. Only when none is clearly intended to mean &ldquo;not one&rdquo; or &ldquo;not any&rdquo; is it followed by a singular verb: Of all my articles, none has received more acclaim than my latest one."

A very common usage of 'none' is as a contraction of 'not one', a singular term, yet it is in this usage that we so often hear the plural verb used. Common usage doesn't alter its singularity.

If enough people use ' your right ' to mean ' you're right ' will that convert 'your' into 'you're' ?

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I took the time to enjoy this thread and it's myriad views. Great sport and entertainment, a genuine thank you to one and all.

My personal slant is that 'foreign' words should be correctly singulariSed or pluraliSed (guess which side of the pond I'm from?) regardless of the era of origin, as with graffitti and scampi which have more recently entered common English usage.

My personal bug-bears are the musical terms sonata, solo and concerto, often mis-pluralised with the additon of an 's'.

P.S. I agree it should be maths as in the UK, it being a contraction of mathematics.

P.P.S. Don't get me started on stressed syllables in pronunciation. I can never understand in the US why the herb is pronounced oREGano but the state is OregON. Why not oregAno or oREGon? Then why not aVOCado, TOMato and POTato? Any road up, if it wasn't for a quirk of fate this whole thread would be in Spanish!

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@rauxa ... Forum is not neologism (a newly coined word). It is a loanword (a word adopted from a foreign language with little or no modification).

As for forum, put me down for forums. When I first saw fora, I thought someone had misspelled flora. I know enuff Latin to be wrong about 3/4 of the time. lol ... Yes, I used enuff ... the "ough" cluster needs to go the way of the dodo bird.

You are correct that there are anglo-root words that could do the same thing and then we wouldn't need to have this moot over forums / fora. We could use moot itself or "mootstow" or "mootsted".

@nigel.pindar ... Americans (Webster mainly) chose the Latin "color" over the French "colour" ... and the Latin "honor". The frain is, why do the Brits want to use a French spelling? But then, you can avoid that by using the anglo-word, hue instead of color.

@ctiney ... child and ox both come from Old English ... nominative plurals in OE were not formed by adding an "s" (BTW, if ox did, it would be oxes not oxs). They kept their strong plurals with slight changes in ME whereas ax (OE æx) didn't. Why? Can't tell you, but I'm ok with the strong plurals.

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Maybe it's just because I like being different, but I tend to use fora over forums. While I think that, in Modern Internet English, forums is pretty much standard, I prefer fora.

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Hello

I really love forum here. See you later!

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I know this was brought up a long time ago, but I only just found this discussion. "Internet fora" is correct, as it can be translated (defined?) as "places for meeting and discussion on the internet" and thus maintains the original meaning of fora. However, internet forums is the more common usage. Also, English is Germanic in origin, but many, many words are from Romance languages. It may be a line fusion into the new Romano-Germanic family.

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I think that if the speaker knows the correct plural form of a word borrowed from a foreign language (including Latin), then the speaker should use the correct plural form of the word, disregarding the rules of English grammar. If the singular form of a foreign word can become part of the English language, then why can't the correct plural of the same foreign word become part of the English language also? Why do we have to continue attaching an "s" to every foreign word when the plural of that word already exists?

I give you two examples of Italian words that are now commonly used in English. "Innuendi" is the correct plural of the word "innuendo." Please don't say "innuendos." "Cannoli" is the correct plural of the word "cannolo." Saying "cannolis" is redundant.

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Judging by the recent chronological spacing of the comments, I don't suppose anyone will read this but :-
I immediately thought of flora as well, so I would favour forums for that reason.
I also agree on the absurdity of 'ough' although I think phlegm take top spot. Well done Dr Johnson (and so you should have been)
My favourite little-known singular is scampo/scampi.
and I think Webster acted reasonable in preferring color to 'couleur'.

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Damn! Sonate.

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We do in fact take on board some non-English grammar when lifting 'foreign' phrases into English, like "al fresco", "literati" and so on.

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@jayles - Of course we do, but we don't make a rule of it. And there are good reasons for both your examples - 'al fresco' is an expression, not a word, and 'literati' is virtually only ever used in the plural - when did you last hear anyone mention a literatus (Latin) or literato - (old Italian)?

And then we play with them: to eat 'al desko' ; the 'glitterati', not to mention the 'latterati'.

And most of us, no doubt, refer to 'the hoi-polloi', even though 'hoi' already means 'the'. (Funny how those pedants who object to 'the' hoi-pollo never seem to worry about things like 'the' albatross, 'the' alcove or 'the' alcohol).

The only rule at play here is usage - and often both are possible, although we seem to have our preferences. Forums leads fora, but millennia (despite Firefox red-lining it) totally outstrips millenniums - which hardly registers in British books:

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=fo...

Americans seem to prefer referenda to referendums by quite a margin, while Brits less definitively prefer referendums (I'm with the Americans on this one). On the other hand, I doubt many people say 'musea':

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=re...

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Referendums or referenda? I think we should let the people decide.

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Richard Chenevix Trench in "English Past and Present" writes: ... they were made to drop their foreign termination, or otherwise their foreign appearance, to conform themselves to English ways, and only so were finally incorporated into the great family of English words.

Thus a word is not truly English til it loses it foreign look.

To WW's list, I'd add other words like 'czar' ... in Russian, the plural is 'czari' (цари́) and the genitiv ... 'czar's' is 'czarya' (царя́) ... There were two czari and the men czarya (the czar's men) ... The administration's last two health czari ...

Naw, they don't hit the ears right. Once a word is fully English'd, it should take an English plural. Learning the sundry plural shapes from sundry tungs would be great, big pain in the ass ... Not gonna do it!

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I figured it would be FORA which is how I would say it. So I looked n my dictionary and it gives both ways.

Meanwhile, imported words normally use the plural form from the original language such as (cactus and cacti). So I have to agree that a forum X 2 = two fora.

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Sorry, don't understand the comment by David Fickett-Wilbar at all. "Agenda" IS a plural. Sadly, I never have meetings with only one item to discuss so have never had to face the problem of not having many agenda.

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"agenda" is plural in Latin, but it is singular in English.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agenda

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DamonTarlaei, Latin scholar my p?dex, Octopus is latinised Greek, therefore the correct plural is octopodes. The internet is not for the likes of you to spout regurgitated nonsense and ill-informed, putrid falsehoods. Switch it off and go away!

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Kev - you too have no place in this. Every key stroke of data entered into a computer is equal to at least 8 bits, or a byte. It is therefore not possible to enter a datum into a computer, only data.

I suppose if you were entering a single co-ordinate, for example, this could be described as a datum but data will always be correct because of the way computers handle data, there will always have to be more than a single bit!

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I got interested party - I'll check back often, I wanted to say hello

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Better change "there" to "There" to begin the second sentence.

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Wish I had found this thread earlier!
Would have loved to argue a few points with hot4teacher or any other antipodean, especially those around sporting terms.
For example they have in Oz sports something called a "preliminary final".
Is that not an oxymoron?
However I feel it ironic that someone from a nation where theynnot correctly prounouce "debut" feels qualified to hold forth on the english language.

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Last sentence of previous post should read:-

However I feel it ironic that someone from a nation where they cannot correctly prounouce “debut” feels qualified to hold forth on the english language.

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HairyScot, I take offense to your comments about Australians (being one myself). It is unnecessary to directly insult anyone (or group) on this forum regardless of what they might have said about you or anyone else.

'Preliminary finals' are the games in a finals series that directly lead up to the 'grand final' - more directly, the final round before the grand final. "Preliminary" using it's dictionary meaning of "something that precedes or is introductory or preparatory" (from Merriam-Webster). The term is not limited to Australian sports as I believe it is also used in boxing (correct me if I am wrong). You could, I guess, refer to any finals game (other than the grand final) as a "preliminary final", as they all inevitably precede the grand final.

I'm not sure about your comment on our pronunciation of "debut". I haven't noticed any particular trends occurring throughout Australia of poor pronunciation of it... at least no more than any other country.

Since you are attacking my entire nation, what makes you think you know how I pronounce "debut"? From where do you hail?

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@CA-Rooster.

Sorry if you found my post insulting, it certainly was not intended to be.

I stand by my comment on "preliminary final", surely quarter-final or semi-final would be a more descriptive term.

As for "debut", listen to your sports commentators who almost without exception persist in pronouncing the word as "day boo".

As to my origins, I am an ex-pat Scot who now lives in NZ after a number of years in RSA.

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That's okay, dude. I understand.

It's funny that you should mention that, because I think we actually misuse the "semi-final" and "quarter-final". With the NRL and AFL (the biggest leagues in Australia - you'd probably be somewhat familiar with the NRL, being in NZ) they both have 8 teams in their finals series - which comprises of quarter-finals -> semi-finals -> preliminary finals -> grand final. This, to me, makes the preliminary finals actually semi-finals, the semi-finals quarter-finals, and the quarter-finals eighth-finals.

As for the whole "debut" thing: Needless to say, a great majority of commentators are former players (not necessarily scholars) so take their pronunciation and vocabulary with a pinch of salt. I haven't noticed such pronunciation to be unique to Australia, although I haven't really paid attention to it (I guess with your pedigree, you'd pick up on stuff like that).

This brings up another discussion for me... shouldn't "commentators" really just be called "commentors", and should the word "commentate" not be considered redundant?

By the way, with your background, who would you support in the rugby world cup?

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* I just noticed a bunch of grammatical errors in my last post... readers beware! lol

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@CA-Rooster

Regarding "debut" I must admit that the kiwi commentators (or commentors) are just as guilty. In fact perhaps "tormentors" would be more apt. :)

As for RWC, I now suffer from multiple personalities. Heart is with Scotland but don't see any real chance.
Will be rooting for them until they exit, then the 'Boks, followed by ABs, and of course any side playing the Wallabies! :)

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Touche porsche. It is very ironic that I made such a mistake. In my defence, though, it is just that - and I do know the correct use (for those who do not, you would simply use "who" where you might use "he/she", and use "whom" where you might use "him/her")

As for my argument over the use of forums instead of fora...
"Are you really claiming that “forums” isn’t a standard or “correct” English word? Fora is a Latin plural, correct English, yes, but obscure at best."

Yes I am claiming that. Since the word "forum" is a Latin word used in the English language, I do not see how using the English-based plural system would apply. Using "forums" is much like using "octopuses", "radiuses" or, to a lesser extent, "fishes".

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IIRC, 'referendum' is a Latin gerund, so has no plural.

'Referenda' - meaning things to be referred, and necessarily connoting a plurality of issues - is the Latin plural gerundive.

As to octopi, they have six arms and two legs.

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The 2008 OED lists 'octopuses', 'octopi' and 'octopodes' in that order; with use of the last indicated as "rare".

If you want to use the correct Latin name for the creature, then it's polypus (singular) polypodes (plural).

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Hey, if I just start collecting old movie posters, but I only have one so far, does that mean that I have memorabilium? No, that can't be right. It should be memorabilis.

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I know it's not relevant to this thread, but I like the adjective derived from forum - 'forensic', meaning 'of or pertaining to, or trained to give evidence in, a court of law'.
We tend to use it only of forensic scientists nowadays: they are scientists trained to give evidence in court. But formerly one would speak of a lawyer's 'forensic skills', meaning his skill at cross-examining witnesses. (A forum being a place of debate.)
Skeet

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@Skeeter Lewis - Thanks for that, I'd never realised that's where it came from. You can still find modern examples of it being used in the more general 'legal' sense at Google Books -

"His forensic skills helped him to a number of courtroom victories, but they left him with little sense of personal fulfillment" - D.W. Griffith's the Birth of a Nation, London Melvyn Stokes University College - 2007

This one is not so much legal as going back to idea of a/the forum - "Nixon was an effective debater, but his forensic skills were overwhelmed by the television images of a sweating, shifty—eyed politician which marked the return of the original Tricky Dick" - Presidential Upsets, Douglas J. Clouatre - 2013

And one, appropriately enough, from an account of Ancient Athens:

"His forensic skills had been tested in his litigation with Callippus and his neighbour, Nicostratus" - War, Democracy and Culture in Classical Athens, David M. Pritchard - 2010

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I think that even if the speaker knows the correct plural form of a word borrowed from a foreign language (including Latin), then the speaker should not use the correct foreign plural form of the word when speaking or writing English. Why disregard the rules of English grammar? I promise always to use innuendos rather than innuendi.

In fact I've never heard anyone use innuendi which I really could not say without laughing and would not be at all surprised if someone else in earshot made a sarcastic comment, probably including such derogatory terms as "tosser" and "pretentious", aimed at anyone who did use it. Not me of course. Far too polite and well brought up.

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Re: Medium

Everyone here seems reasonably convinced that the correct plural of medium is media. If you're talking about the medium in which something exists (a technical term), then I would agree. But what if you're talking about t-shirts? If I asked for "two media, in black" no-one would understand what I was asking for and I would be looked at like a crazy person. If I asked for "two mediums, in black" they would know exactly what I wanted.

Now, you could argue that one should never use medium as a noun in that way, but in common parlance, short-cuts are common and "two medium t-shirts, in black" is unnecessary when you're either holding or pointing at the object in question. Certainly, I would argue that in informal parlance, there are circumstances when "mediums" is acceptable. And that doesn't even get into the whole question of how to refer to a street with multiple psychics on it...

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I confess to being rather fond of the singular of scampi.....'scampo'.
Skeet

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do anybody know about this word?It is the longest word in english ???????Pl clarify.........


zurapassionateorevertingjinglekejunglejirkurthmaniacjilsetilusehaian

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Well the Latin plural of innuendo might be innuendis; but really best avoided; hints would be a better word-choice.

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A long, but most enjoyable, read.

Many years ago I was a simulator instructor for a major international airline, whose training center was located in a midwestern U.S. city. Many of the other instructors came from the surrounding area, had grown up on farms, and had no familiarity with Latin.

Where I'm going with this is that some of our aircraft had several movable pointers on the perimeter of the airspeed indicator that could be set to indicate the varying speeds required for takeoff and landing. We generally referred to them as "bugs", although the proper term was "index markers" or "indices". I was always amused by the fact that, in the lexicon of the hometown instructors, "indices" was singularized to "indice" (in' duh see), as in "Set the 'indice' to 120 knots".

On an entirely different note, something else I find amusing is that, while Americans refer to corporations in the singular (Microsoft was an 800 pound gorilla), our British cousins refer to them in the plural (Microsoft were an 800 pound gorilla). Does anyone happen to know how that came about?

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I think the octopus discussion above is a bit off beam.
For one think, octopus isn't exactly the greek, which is oktápous, so to use octopodes as a plural for octopus can't be right.

I do not believe that "octopus" is properly Latin either, rather it is a latinised word which biologists have come up with. I can't find the original Latin in a Latin dictionary to hand: but given that octopus is polpo (or piovra) in italian, polpe in french and pulpo in spanish, I would tend to think the Latin word must be related to those.

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Tristan: "A very common usage of 'none' is as a contraction of 'not one', a singular term, yet it is in this usage that we so often hear the plural verb used. Common usage doesn't alter its singularity."

Tristan, how do you know that "none" is used with a plural verb when it should be singular? Doesn't it make much more sense to assume that it is plural when it is used with a plural verb? You are pretty much ignoring the usage note that you quoted.

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Interestingly, I wonder of the people posting on here claiming that 'forums' is just an example of assimilation and that the word correctly follows the rules of English, how many would enter datums into a computer?

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With regard to my missing capital letter, for which I apologise if necessary, there is a difference between a typing error and wilful destruction of our language.

I never said the data has no place in the language, just that the the above point about use of the mythical word, datums, is flawed in a literal sense because the example used mkes no sence. One cannot, in any sense, input a datum to a computer. One can, of course, input data which may later, be viewed or represented as a datum.

Is it acceptable to talk about "this data", or should we always say "these data"?

My overall point is that this is a place for individuals, who are supposed to care about our language, to discuss it. Yet all the evidence points to the fact that those individuals are the very people who are destroying it. There is even a paragraph above this which has been ended with with the modern term "or whatever". That is actually painful to me.

Stand up to and act to preserve your language.

Operor non permissum nothus homo frendo vos solum.

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So, Charlie, do you think that if a statistician is entering a series of measurements into an excel spreadsheet, we should not refer to each measurement as a datum? I would think that the measurement, itself, would be a datum - regardless of how we distribute it.

Please note, Charlie, that whilst I agree with your efforts to preserve this great language, I disagree with your attitude and your 'high horse'. I am not trying to portray myself as some PhD in literacy. I am simply an engineering student who happens to take pride in (what I know to be) the correct usage of my language. I made the point earlier (May 11th) that the reason I don't have flawless grammar, is that my teachers throughout school didn't (far from it). Your point would be better made in Old English, would it not? But I guess that your teachers didn't teach you Old English as a child (if you are not still one).

For the record, I know that it is incorrect grammar to begin a sentence with 'But'. I simply used poetic license to make a point.

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"Schnappsen" is cringeworthy as it actually is not the correct German plural. The actual German word is 'Schnaps' (just one 'p'), and the plural would be 'Schnäpse'.

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Just realized someone already made my point - previously, the page apparently hadn't loaded fully. :doh:

As for 'fora', it seems to me that the word has been assimilated into the English language sufficiently that using the English plural should, at the very least, be acceptable.

Similarly, in English mathematical writing 'lemmas' is now not only accepted but the norm, and I conform to this usage, even though in German I would always use 'Lemmata'.

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I can understand why people disagree with me on this - and, after all, my argument isn't necessarily directed at anyone in particular; and I assume that most people understand where I stand and why.

As for our Rugby team; assuming that you are a Pom, I could have said the same to you.
I have just about given up on Union in Australia (except for the mighty Waratahs). League is where it's at, but cricket is good too (each to his own).

Oh and PS... We use the term free-kick as well as indirect (simply to differentiate between direct and 'not direct').

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When I first came across this issue of Latin plurals within the English language I asked some linguists and they were very clear: an adopted foreign word takes the plurals of the language which has borrowed it.

So the plural of curriculum should be curriculums. Later found that similarly qualified linguists disagreed insisting it should it should be curricula. The newest dictionary I had at the time said it's an either/or. Use whichever one you want. I use curriculums but curricula sounds fine. Fora for forums sounds awful to me though but I know both are used. We don't water our gerania though do we? Nor do we wait for a bus only to find several bi turn up at once.

As an occasional field botanist though we do use taxa and taxon correctly but even the experts with advice from Latin scholars will occasionally name a plant incorrectly according to Latin grammar rules. It then has to be altered causing chaos in records which too easily can seem to have two species recorded when it is really one with two spellings.

I did study Latin at school but I'm on the whole against the use of the Latin plural for commonly used words in English. I do think they make the user sound pretentious and add nothing to clarity and understanding because most people these days I find didn't study Latin at school.

English adopts new words through common usage though so "hassle" is now and accepted dictionary word. The horror of "your" instead of "you're" will very likely happen as will "I would of" instead "I would have". Too many people use these abominations for them not to be adopted sooner or later. Omigod!

It will take time though and I'll probably be dead.

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And the words "chum", "hum", "sum" and "um" should henceforth be pluralized "cha", "ha", "sa" and "a". And since "apparatus" is a Latin fourth declension noun, it should be pluralized accordingly: "apparatūs".

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@Cirsium - I'm surprised at your two groups of linguists. Linguists usually observe language use rather than lay down the law about it. And in any case I would say that anyone saying words with foreign roots must take the original plural are wrong, bot equally so are those who say that the opposite is true.

No doubt the vast majority of words that have come into English from other languages (which means about three-quarters of the words in the English language) take a regular English plural. But in any language, but especially in English (ask any foreign learner) there are always exceptions.

As some have already mentioned there are all those Greek-based words with a -sis ending - analysis, basis,crisis, ellipsis, hypothesis, oasis, psychosis - where the -es plural ending is standard natural English, perhaps because it's easier to say than -ises. Personally I prefer curricula (probably because that's the way I've always heard it), but obviously I'd never say musea. I think we need to take each word on its own merits rather than make hard and fast rules either way.

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@Warswaw Will My dislike of the plural curricula is twofold - to me it sounds wrong (but that's a personal thing) but also when spoken it gets confused with the adjective curricular as they both sound the same. And before you say that context should clarify any difference that would rather assume that everyone speaks grammatically and in sentences.

I'm actually quite happy with our current way of assimilating new forms of words into the English language through usage. Rules don't seem to help much as the forum has demonstrated.

I think I will start to use Octopodes as the plural of Octopus even though it's wrong.

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Thank you for understanding, Porsche.

"Hot4teacher, using the English-based plural system ALWAYS applies. forum is NOT a Latin word used in the English language. It is an ENGLISH word whose origin is Latin."

If radius is now an English word, does that mean that entrepreneur, feng shui, and umami are now all English words/phrases as well. Where does this rule end?

Oh, and FYI the Cambridge dictionary claims the plural of radius to be radii. If anything, the Cambridge dictionary is essentially a solid copy of the English language, so whatever it claims to be correct should be correct, in spite of what anyone else says. If not then the English language has become somewhat of a tribal series of languages, each based on the one ancestor, but with subtle differences.

There is something very wrong about modifying the English language. We cannot trust what people claim to be correct, other than what is solidly stated and globally confirmed. This free alteration has led to some disgraceful modifications to common language - including the use and apparent conception of the word bouncebackability! There is a word for bouncebackability, it's resilience! If we continue to neglect correct use of our language, we will wind up with a dictionary full of abbreviations and disgracefully simple words.

Anyway, I am getting tired of acting like an old cynic. Speak with whatever language you wish, but be wary of the increasingly poor state and occurrence of the English language.

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If we use neologism, we must use them properly, it's always another or more words in english to say the same. English is so rich in words, that you may use a lot of synonims. But if we want to use the latin or greek neologisms, we must use them with the correct gramatical rules. The spanish name "foro" is not a neologism, is the evolution of the ancient latin word, so, is not the same. Then, everywhere that you use curriculum, forum, index, or any other neologism, you must put them in plural as curricula, fora and indices, if you don't want to have problems, there are a lot of other real english words to do the same work.

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in the english language, foreign words may or may not be anglicized. Thus "forums", but "radii".

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Wow - to think people are employed to belabour all of this - puts me head in a veritable spin

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I can understand that as time goes by, we will forget where some words originated and so their respective plural system will be forgotten, but until then why would only some words be anglicized? Either all words or only words of English origin should use the plural system.

Again, to what extent does this rule apply? Are we to just guess when a word does or doesn't use this rule?

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@nigel.pindar: Your example of the difference between its and it's is erroneous. It sounds possesive writing 'its mine', but it's obviously incorrect as, in this case, it means 'it is mine' - it's being the correct usage as a contraction of 'it is'. 'Its' is the plural possessive pronoun of it (obviously). It's plain to see that the dog does not like sharing its bone. Not a great sentence, but one which hopefully makes it clearer.
An interesting forum, with many well informed contributers. I am in no way of the same calibre, and do not pretend to be, but perhaps the discussions on some subjects here have gone on for far too long. They are, in the end, fairly trivial. The English language is a wonderful thing, full of surprises and quirks and is made all the richer by subtle changes. Sticking solely to the past is retrogressive by its very nature, and does not allow for fresh life to be breathed into it. Latin and Greek are dead languages, but they are still very much alive, in part, within our wonderful language. Academics,it seems to me, spend way too much time considering the minutia to be able to see the bigger picture. I cannot see that using 'forums' instead of 'fora' is, in some way, a great insult to the English language. I see it, rather, as growth. If there are any grammatical errors in my posting, so be it, but I won't lose too much sleep over it. I will, however, as a layman, try to improve my understanding of my mother tongue. Now, who was it who said in an earlier post that WTF is an acronym rather than an initialism? Just joking!

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Off-topic: regarding AFL/NRL finals, they could get around all those terminology issues by just awarding the championship to whichever team gets the most points during the season like they do in football (I'm talking round ball here). The finals system to me is like a marathon where the first eight runners to reach 25 miles start the last mile at the same time.
Talking of octopuses (which is the only acceptable plural to me), how about octo-finals for the round before the quarter-finals?

Nigel_P: yes, pick up any old-ish book published in the UK and it'll be full of recognize, realize, etc. This whole anti-Z thing seems quite recent.

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My apologies for suggesting 'its' is a plural possessive pronoun rather than a possessive form of 'it'. What can I say - it's very late. It's lucky I mentioned that I'm a layman, not a scholar.

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@Chris B:
Hahaha. I also watch soccer, and I know what you're talking about. I wouldn't, however, sacrifice the finals series' for the sake of grammatical correctness. It also makes it more interesting, later in the season, for supporters whose teams might be out of the running for the minor premiership (table leader at the end of the regular season) - knowing that any team in or around the top 8 have a chance at winning.

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When bringing in foreign words some languages change the spelling and plural to their own system. So for example in hungarian "buffet" is spelt "bufe" (with an umlaut) and a regular plural. Things might have been easier if we had adopted this approach in English from the start, but there seems to be some snob value in using foreign plurals when English ones would be simpler ie totally anglicize the imported word. As for the spelling.... many clean ups have been suggested, and failed basically because there are too many vowels and dipththongs compared to the letters available in the Roman alphabet, and also for want of government action,

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It is only in the abnormal cases where English words taken directly from the Latin are inflexive when representing number (id est singular or plural). Such words are generally taken from science, such as bacterium(sin.)/bacteria(pl.). I find it to be quite pedantic to decline all latin derived nouns which retain the same form. As far as grammatically correct English goes the Latin inflexive changes and the standard English pluralization are generally both accepted, exempli gratia, octopus can be either octopi or octopuses. It really comes down to the fact that English is not Latin and therefore should follow standard English rules first, unless for words that have special exception such as bacterium.

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Unlike a few of the earlier commentors who are Latin scholars, I'm a lay person when it come to that particular language. The feeling gushing through my immortal(!) soul is that language is a tool to help us make ourselves understood to the widest audience possible. Therefore, let's apply democracy to the choice of fora vs. forums - whatever works.

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As someone said way back in this thread, usage is the key,and you just have to take each word separately. No one would say musea, but on the other hand, not many would say crisises either. Some go only one way, some go only the other, with others we have a choice, including, I thought, referendum - ums / -a. For some strange reason I prefer referenda, but I've just discovered that referendum has no plural in Latin, so even that is a false assumption:

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_...

Apparently something similar has happened with octupi, which is not in fact the Latin plural, but an assumed Latin plural on the basis of other Latin plurals; the 'true' Latin plural is in fact the rarely used 'octopodes'.

Wikipedia has a useful list of plurals from foreign words:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_plurals#Ir...

Interestingly, the same word can also have two different plurals depending on context. Wikipedia quotes this example: "a radio or radar engineer works with antennas, but an entomologist deals with antennae".

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Are people still posting in this thread? Just like the words "referendum", "compendium" and "emporium", the word "forum' has two plurals: one ending in -a and one ending in -ums. This is because those words are commonly used, but not commonly enough to make the Latin plural formation obsolete (such is the case with words like "aquarium"). It's a simple matter.

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Actually, octopodes would have been the correct plural in classical times because octopus is Greek rather than Latin. Octopuses is fine now, but octopi is stretching it, to say the least.

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hot4teacher: I ruffled your feathers, which was not my intent. Clearly, we share a passion for English, but we disagree on (at least) one point.

The question we are discussing here is whether–and when–nouns imported from other languages should be made plural in the manner of in the language of origin or in the manner of English nouns. In my earlier comment I said: “When a word borrowed from another language has been part of English for a long time it is proper to use the ‘English-based plural system.’” I stand by that. In common usage most imported nouns are best made plural in the English manner, unless used in a specific context, such as a treatise on Botany (or ancient Rome).

Bryan A. Garner, in ‘A Dictionary of Modern American Usage,’ makes this point clearly:

“Words imported into the English language from other languages–especially Greek, Latin, French, and Italian–present some of the most troublesome aspects of English plurals. Many imported words become thoroughly naturalized; if so, they take an English plural. But if a word of Latin or Greek origin is relatively rare in English–or if the foreign plural became established long ago–then it typically takes its foreign plural.”

Many plural nouns that are argued about today have long been anglicized. To cite but one example, “memorandum,” which comes to us from Latin via Middle English, has been around since the fifteenth century, according to Merriam-Webster. Yet it is sometimes written as “memoranda” in its plural use. But Thomas Jefferson–no mere scribbler–used “memorandums” as early as 1818 (The Anas). Other imports, like “octopus,” are erroneously latinized into “octopi,” though the root word is Greek. And seriously, does anyone use the word “platypodes?” That would be truly flat-footed.

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hot4teacher,

Thanks for the kind words. I have enjoyed our discussion; you also make a strong case. Go on using those latinate plurals. As you say, someone has to preserve them. They may often be more appropriate in engineering anyhow. Even I prefer 'radii,' at least in writing, and would probably say 'abaci,' though I can't imagine needing two of them.

Incidentally, I didn't mean that the English plural of 'platypus' is actually 'platypode,' the accepted plurals are 'platypuses' and 'platypi." The latter illogically applies a Latin plural form to a Greek root. (I should have said "have been erroneously latinized"–it is a fait accompli.) This is not uncommon in English; we also have 'octopi' and 'cacti,' both of Greek origin. Still, perhaps it is fitting that such an apparent collection of leftover parts as a platypus should have a pastiche of a plural.

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"Cactus" is of Greek origin, but it was borrowed into English from Latin, just like "octopus" and "platypus" were. But "cactus" is different in that it would be pluralized "cacti" in Latin.

In any case, the idea that we must look to another language to find out how to use words is the etymological fallacy. To determine how English words are pluralized, it makes sense to look at how English writers actually pluralize them. In the case of "forum", the most common plural by far is "forums". As I said earlier, the OED doesn't even have any quotes with "fora".

Apparatus and status are borrowed from Latin fourth declension masculine nouns, so the Latin plurals are appar?t?s and stat?s. Agenda, erotica, opera, data, media, bacteria, candelabra, paraphernalia, trivia, graffiti are all borrowed from Latin plurals (Italian in the case of graffiti), so treating these words as singular would be wrong by hot4teacher's standards.

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To go back to September 2009, I'll tell Hot4Teacher an answer to the English soccer question.

The word Penalty is a reserved word in the rules of the game, I'll capitalise it for clarification. It specifically means a free shot at the goal from a marked spot on the pitch – any foul in the marked box around the goal results in a Penalty.
Anyone who’s ever seen a game probably knows what a Penalty is.

Because the word Penalty is reserved and means a very specific thing in the rules of the game it's generally not used to describe or discuss any other part of the game.
Sure, a free kick is a type of penalty to the opposing team, but because of the confusion it's not called a penalty.

It's much the same that in cricket people won't use the word Test except when discussing a test match or in Rugby you won’t hear people talking about have a good try at scoring because it can be confused with the Try which means to score.

Of course someone could use the word penalty to describe a free kick or yellow card or anything else, but it would normally display an ignorance of the game which is easily remedied with a quick chat, or a contrary nature and a desire to start a pedantic argument which is also easily but in a much less friendly way.

Anyhow.
If you’re talking about internet message boards then they are forums, if you're talking about where Caecilius meets to his drinking buddies then it's fora.

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"Agenda, erotica, opera, data, media, bacteria, candelabra, paraphernalia, trivia, graffiti are all borrowed from Latin plurals (Italian in the case of graffiti), so treating these words as singular would be wrong by hot4teacher’s standards."

I would say that treating those words as singular would be wrong, especially considering that most of their singular forms are still used in modern English. We use the word "datum" when referring to datum edges in product measuring and manufacturing; medium is used everywhere, especially in visual arts contexts; bacterium is still used in biology studies and articles.

The fact that a lot of those words are used instead of their original singular form is wrong, and I believe that it is simply ignorance that has written off their original singular forms.

It is interesting to think, though, about the fact that we have been discussing the incorrect use of plurals from their singular forms, and hadn't mentioned the fact that many people also use the incorrect singular forms of plurals, or simply use the same word for both singular and plural cases. Data and media are the ones that annoy me the most.

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"I would say that treating those words as singular would be wrong, especially considering that most of their singular forms are still used in modern English."

So you'd say that usage is irrelevant, that what matters is the words' etymology?

According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, "data" followed by a singular verb is completely standard.

Another one is stamina... this is a plural noun in Latin, but it's singular in English.

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"Hot4teacher took Goofy’s bait on this one: “…most of their singular forms are still used in modern English.” What, exactly, is the singular of paraphernalia? Paraphernalium? "

My post may have been misinterpreted in regards to this. When I said "most" I was generally referring to the examples I used. I concede that the singular forms of words like paraphernalia are not commonly used in English (as far as I know, only the plural form was adopted into English - so it may somewhat be the reverse of what we are talking about). This appears, though, to have been bypassed by the common use of "a piece of paraphernalia" instead of "a paraphernalis" (?).


" “I would say that treating those words as singular would be wrong, especially considering that most of their singular forms are still used in modern English.”

So you’d say that usage is irrelevant, that what matters is the words’ etymology? "

I'm not sure what it is that you are getting at with this statement. I assert that there is no reason/need to incorrectly use a plural form of a word as its singular form when the singular form is still used. This may sound contradictory to one of my previous statements (that if everyone uses it, doesn't make it right), but it is in actual fact supporting it. The fact that people still use "datum" or "bacterium" (granted in specific industries) means that the use of "a data" or "a bacteria", although common, is (I believe) wrong. As I said before, these terms are often modified to a correct form of "a piece of ___".

I have studied biology before, and understand that the use of "a type of bacteria" may seem incorrect, but is actually fine. Bacteria almost always occur as colonies, and so you may often be describing a colony of bacteria, rather than a single bacterium, however describing single bacteria is still important and is still used.

As for stamina, I have never personally seen or heard anyone use stamina as a singular form. As far as I am aware, the singular form, stamen, refers to something other than a singular form of stamina as used to describe endurance or strength (the word may have some etymological connotation to an ability to endure, I am not sure). I've only really heard it used in the context "someone's stamina", which tends to push me towards believing that a stamen may be something that allows for endurance/strength. Someone may care to enlighten me.

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And, that should be "folk" not "fold."

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Douglas wrote:
"I’m not sure why these are even mentioned. What is the controversy?"

I mentioned all these words to show that their etymology as plurals in Latin or Italian or whatever is irrelevant to their use in English. hot4teacher seems to be arguing that a word should have a certain plural form that matches the plural form in the language the word was borrowed from. But the logical conclusion of this line of thinking is that all these other words, like opera, erotica, candelabra, paraphenalia, trivia, should therefore only be plural in English.

hot4teacher wrote:
"As for stamina, I have never personally seen or heard anyone use stamina as a singular form."

Really? It was first used as a plural in English, but began to be used as a singular in the 1800s.

"The stamina of the people was tested by a persecution that lasted for thirty years." - W.B. Thomson, 1895

I've only seen it used as a plural nowadays when referring to the stamens of plants.

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" Really? It was first used as a plural in English, but began to be used as a singular in the 1800s.

“The stamina of the people was tested by a persecution that lasted for thirty years.” – W.B. Thomson, 1895

I’ve only seen it used as a plural nowadays when referring to the stamens of plants. "

Like I said, the word stamina is used in English as something other than its original meaning (or at least somewhat different to), and does not literally refer to, for example, a person's amount of "stamens", but rather a statistic or measurement (like mass) which may be used as both a quantitative statistic (E.g. ability to run 2km at 15km/h) or a qualitative statistic (E.g. "They show great stamina"), neither of which particularly pertain to a singular or plural form, so much as a quantitative/qualitative adjective.

I understand where you are coming from with "The stamina of the people was tested", but I believe that this is a case of what I've just mentioned. The stamina is simply a stat, and the "stamina of the people" may be referred to as a group of stamina(s).

I am forgetting why we are arguing about "stamina". It seems as though we both agree that using stamina as a singular form is incorrect.

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"I am forgetting why we are arguing about “stamina”. It seems as though we both agree that using stamina as a singular form is incorrect."

No we don't. "Stamina" is commonly singular, as in “The stamina of the people was tested”. "Was" is singular. If "stamina" was plural, then it would be "the stamina of the people were tested."

My point is that all these words are plural in their original languages, but that they're singular in English. You can tell they're singular because they're followed by a singular verb: "stamina is", "erotica is", "data is", "candelabra is", "trivia is", "opera is", etc etc.

You wrote:
"Since the word “forum” is a Latin word used in the English language, I do not see how using the English-based plural system would apply."

This is the etymological fallacy. If we must apply the Latin plural system to all words borrowed from Latin, then stamina, erotica, opera, data, trivia, etc. should always and only be plural in English.

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"This is the etymological fallacy. If we must apply the Latin plural system to all words borrowed from Latin, then stamina, erotica, opera, data, trivia, etc. should always and only be plural in English. "

If you are saying that the use of the word "stamina" in English should only be as a plural, then I agree with you.

If you are saying that this 'would be' true but isn't due to historical use, then I go back to one of my previous arguments - that just because people say things one way, doesn't mean that this way is correct. I could say "Plural is correctly spelled 'ploorul'" but this obviously is not the case.

I know that many people believe that the etymological fallacy is erroneous, in that words may be borrowed from other languages and obtain a (somewhat) different meaning to its original meaning. I once again assert that common misuse doesn't account for correctness. The whole idea that the English language is 'advancing' or changing is simply evidence that the current language is incorrect. The idea of a correct language is either what the general majority believes to be correct, or what the original language holds to be acceptable.

I believe that the whole 'majority' concept is erroneous, in the same way that I described before. If the majority of the English-speaking population decided to spell 'plural' as 'ploorul', then this concept would identify the latter to be correct. If you can accept this, then good for you, but I think that it is blatantly obvious that this whole idea fallacious and misleading.

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Before you have another go at me, Dave, I'll point out that my internet nickname "hot4teacher" was chosen due to my liking of the song "Hot for teacher" by Van Halen, not to imply that I have sexual interests in teachers.

At no point did I state that I was correct nor that anyone else was incorrect. I simply offered my opinion - which I am now somewhat reluctant to do, considering the amount of trolls who responded only to take shots at me.

I already modestly stated my level of education in English, which leaves me confused at attempting to understand why you think I'm being condescending or righteous - which is ironic.

"Just be careful you are not just showing off some vain opinion of superiority you may be holding on to."

"As for the quality of some of the postings here from the inappropriately monikered “Hot4Teacher”; It’s poor."

"ForaOfCourseYouKnowTheLatinPluralDon’tYou?No?OhSorryToProveI’mOfASuperiorEducationalKLevelToYouThankYouI’llTakeYourSilenceAsASubmission."

For interest's sake, what was poor about my posts? Was it that you, William "Dave" Shakespeare, are the world's most educated English scholar and know for a fact that I am incorrect? Or were you so shaken up by the fact that my moniker is "hot4teacher", which you erroneously deciphered as meaning that I found teachers attractive (with which there is nothing wrong - teachers are just people too).

For someone who portrays himself as being a seemingly level and righteous person, you take a lot of offense to opinions that happen to differ from your own.

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"If you CAN’T accept this, then why are you typing in English and not (one of) the original language(s)?"

I cannot control the environment in which I was brought up; this doesn't stop me from believing that the way that languages alter (incorrectly imo) is wrong. If I could, I would ensure that everyone speaks the language correctly and at least attempt to prevent further deterioration of modern linguistics (part of the reason why I am on this discussion board).

"WIND would be blowing outside while you WIND your clock? Be a cruel joke to play, indeed."

I think you'll find that these to homonyms are alterations of different words from previous versions of the English language (or borrowed from other languages). This statement is in fact supporting my argument. It shows how the modification of languages can result in a more difficult or confusing language.

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"Etymological fallacy" is an important concept, but it has little relevence to the issue of the correct pluralization of imported nouns.

Wikipedia describes the term “etymological fallacy” thus:

“The etymological fallacy holds, erroneously, that the original or historical meaning of a word or phrase is necessarily similar to its actual present-day meaning.”

A more detailed definition from ‘Nonsense: A Handbook of Logical Fallacies’ by Robert J. Gula may be found here:

http://www.fallacyfiles.org/etymolog.html

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Gerunds and participles are quite distinguishable- gerunds are used as nouns, while participles are adjectives. (I assume you're talking about verbals here?) I apologize, I think I may have just mentioned this in another thread as well.

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Andy, I'm not sure what your point is when you said:

"The singular of data is datum. I never hear anyone say 'datas'."

You don't hear "datas" because data is already plural (although it is often used as a mass noun with some controversy). Did you mean to say:

"The singular of data is datum. I never hear anyone say 'datums'"?

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Re: NONE

Tristan and John,

Interesting exchange on the usage of the word "none". I always thought that it meant, specifically and solely, "not one", and should therefore always be used with a singular verb. I'll pay attention now to whether it is being used in the sense of:

1. “not any persons or things”
versus
2. “not one” or “not any”.


QUESTION:
However, this explanation confuses me. How does this second "not any" (in #2) differ from “not any persons or things”?


"None" is certainly followed by a plural verb often enough in print and other media, and that has always driven me a bit mad.

Here's an example from the New York Times (see the last three words):

"Dr. Kleiman’s work also included the highly public, always stressful and generally thankless task of trying to coax healthy offspring from the Washington zoo’s first, reluctant giant pandas, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, and having to explain year after year to a disappointed public why none were forthcoming."

Would this be a case in which the plural usage is correct?

Here is another example from the New York Times, which seems grammatically incorrect to me:

"All the leading candidates warned voters that 'cuts are coming,' but none were even close to honest about how deep."

Does anyone have an opinion?

Here is another case in which I now have doubt (last sentence, after the comma):

"In one of Dr. Griffiths’s first studies, involving 36 people with no serious physical or emotional problems, he and colleagues found that psilocybin could induce what the experimental subjects described as a profound spiritual experience with lasting positive effects for most of them. None had had any previous experience with hallucinogens, and none were even sure what drug was being administered."

The following example confounds me when I try to use the explanation above to determine whether "none" should be plural or singular here. To my mind, it should clearly be singular in this case. Yet it seems to me that "none" could refer to “not any things” here, as in, "not any regrets".

"Lorena Ochoa walked away from competitive golf with grace and humility, the same way she walked in. For sure, as she might say, there were few regrets. None were important enough to mention to reporters on Friday, when she preferred to accentuate the positive, again, one of her endearing traits."


QUESTION:
So, by according to the explanation above, what would be an example in which "none" *must* be followed by a singular verb?

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Latin is not a dead language, it is actually the language used in the Vatican City. Language is fluid and morphs all the time, fora will become forums, stadia will become stadiums and the originals will be forgotten. Who says'refrigerator', 'perambulator' or 'influenza' any more?

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goofy:

I think we are in agreement: I favor anglicized plurals of borrowed nouns with the exception of long-established usages or specialized domains of discourse.

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Douglas, the word stamina (for endurance) is the same word as stamina (for the plural of stamen). Somewhere along the way, the English language decided that stamina would be a measure of endurance (possibly related to the function of a stamen).

As for the use of "stamens as early as 1947", I have already stated my stance as to whether the etymology of a word or common use of a word is more correct.

"You have also missed the point of my second comment, which is that Franklin lost this particular battle with progress."

I am aware that Franklin lost that battle, I commonly use the words you mentioned. It is also interesting to see that such a genius as Benjamin Franklin could be so grossly ignored. It may just be that scientifically minded people think alike, and are always being ignored by society, despite the fact that our entire mission is to find the 'truth'. Enough of venting my frustration with society, though.

Oh and for "I sense from your remarks that you misunderstand the concept of the “etymological fallacy.” ", it wouldn't be surprising if I misunderstand the concept of the etymological fallacy, as my only knowledge of it is a vague memory of hearing it in particular contexts. My English education finished in high school, and my education in grammar/punctuation/comprehension finished in year 10, and had since included such useless education as how to decompose and analyse Brave New World, Othello, etc.

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Dave Johnson, I couldn't have expressed it better myself. You make an excellent point by associating the degeneration of 'English' with the simplicity of a child's grammar and vocabulary - in a similar vein to previous posters' arguments.

It is unfortunate that the quality of language education (at least from where I grew up), is too poorly structured so as to put more emphases on literary analysis than to actually teach the language we are analyzing (social networking sites are not doing people any favors in this regard - not the only reason I steer well clear of them).

For the record, I am very much opposed to unnecessary modifications of the English language. Comedian Adam Hills made a good point when pointing out that "... 'bouncebackability' had been accepted into a highly regarded dictionary, despite the fact that there is already a word for that - resilience!". Also, on a MadTV skit it was pointed out that the word 'literally' now essentially means the opposite of it's literal meaning - as defined in Merriam-Webster:
"1 : in a literal sense or manner : ACTUALLY
2 : in effect : VIRTUALLY "

The repercussions of this unnecessary mutilation of our language can already be seen by simply traveling to another English speaking country. Dialects of English are starting to arise (not just accents) - most notably the arbitrary spelling modifications in American-English from British-English (this spell-check is making my point).

I suppose it would've made a good point to have posted this in Old English, but not only do I lack the knowledge, it would make it difficult for people to understand (a good point?).

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I appreciate your directness, Porsche, and I admit that I acted like a d-bag to say the least.

"Surely you haven’t forgotton your very first post, have you?"

Unfortunately, with the number of irrelevant responses I have made to (and I stand by the use of the term) trolls, I had forgotten my original posts. Thinking back, however, I agree with my original 'views', but I apologize if anyone was offended by their nature (tbph, I couldn't care less if you were offended. What difference should it make if I think you're an idiot?).

My arguably 'un/called-for' backlashes came due to a habit of mine brought upon by being constantly, unnecessarily, and unreasonably scrutinized and ridiculed by people throughout my life.

Having said all of that, aside from my original frustration-influenced post, I feel that all of my posts were of a reasonable nature, until people (namely Name (supplied)) began to just take shots at me. If anyone has a problem with the way I've acted, don't act like it was uncalled for.

I have no beef with anyone on this discussion board, aside from Name (supplied), and possibly the appropriately monikered Dave. I expect that you two would have no problems having someone you have a problem with, having a problem with you.

Let this be the end of the sarcastic maelstrom, and return to the original topic.

P.S. In regards to my name, I thank you Porsche for clarifying Dave's issue for me, but I would like to remind Dave that (as I mentioned) there is nothing wrong with lusting after a teacher. Physical attraction is as natural as methane gas. It is somewhat to blame for our existence.

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Correction:
Douglas, I object to your supposition that simply because people are dead, famous, and considered intelligent, they are somehow wiser than people whose wisdom you have little basis to gauge.

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Name (supplied),

For one so admittedly fond of the sarcastic you are surprisingly blind to the sardonic.

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Name (supplied), that is a very informative link. Here is another with the etymologies of each meaning of 'stamina' together:

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=stam...

I think 'stamina' could be the poster-child for the etymological fallacy.

(As for you, Kevin E, I refer you to hot4teacher's recent foray into Old English.)

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Hmm, I don't mind people using 'forums', but for me it just sounds unnatural (believe it or not). I mean, let's be consistent. Because if we allow both forums and fora to be correct, then for example the plural of crisis could be crisises instead of the latin crises.

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Just for kicks, whose side are you on Kevin?

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Re: MEDIA

It seems to me that the word "media" is a prime candidate for this discussion thread. I encounter a great deal of confusion about how to use it properly.

Here is an excerpt from a NYT article:

"No one doubts that social media – all the stuff on Facebook, Twitter and other online forums – provides a rich lode of user sentiment that companies ought to be able to exploit."

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/12/sas-se...

"...social media... provides"?

~ ~ ~

NOTE: I haven't yet had a chance to read through all of the posts in this thread, so please forgive me if I am raising an issue that has already been thoroughly dissected. I look forward to returning to read the full discussion here.

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[...] about the correct plural of forum itself — is it forums or fora? — as have some language blogs and other sites. Latin plurals are evidently a popular topic. Some of the commentary is sensible [...]

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That's an amusing question. Does the side that he takes automatically become less valid?
In all seriousness, why even acknowledge his existence? He's already deemed himself irrelevant by interjecting pointless drivel into a serious discussion. Who are we to grant him any more credence than he gives himself?

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Just to be different & waste a little more time:
When a colleague produced 'fora' as the plural of 'forum' I took exception to it and looked it up in the little dictionary that I saved from my long ago school days - Cassell's Latin-English English-Latin School Dictiionary, first published in 1927 and abridged from Cassell's Latin Dictionary- which gives 'forum -i'(pl), a neuter noun - similarly, 'castellum -i(pl)', neuter.
Do I have to defer to all the higher authorities quoted above, forget the Latin I once trusted and just settle for 'forums' or 'fora'?
Yours in a dither

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