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October 30, 2021
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I have often pondered the use of the singular for animals. I don't think it has anything to do with the 'signs', but with the elephants themselves. Game hunters etc like to use the singular for the animals or birds they hunt: they go hunting snipe, for example, or bear or salmon – not snipes or bears or salmons. When referring to pet animals, however, the plural is always used: I went to Crufts and saw lots of dog? Hardly. But I went to the Serengeti and saw lots of zebra and wildebeest. Do hunters use the singular so as not to have to think about the suffering of individual animals, perhaps? Where is the cut-off point between animals we singularise and those we pluralise? (New topic: can I say singularise and pluralise??)
The way I see people using 'advocate for' is as shorthand for 'act as advocate for'. I can't find any single English word that does quite this job. 'Propose', 'commend', argue' – none of these has the exact meaning these users want to convey. This might (or, in this particular case, may . . .) explain why it has spread so quickly. So we may (or, of course, might . . .) be stuck with it.
The way I see people using 'advocate for' is as shorthand for 'act as an advocate for'. I can't find any single English word which will quite do this job. 'Propose', 'commend', 'prescribe' – none of these is an exact substitute for the meaning these users want to suggest by 'advocate for'. This may explain its fast spread, and I think we may find we're stuck with it.
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