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Joined: October 7, 2010  (email not validated)
Comments posted: 9
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"Well you could try looking up some references." Now I need to provide the evidence to argue against myself? Hmm.... applied to the courts it would save the prosecution a fortune lol.

My headquarters are in Nottingham, England, where Raleigh have put a pair of front forks on each of their bikes since 1887.

ian2 January 7, 2011, 9:16am

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Ah, that's ok then, there is somewhere a mysterious police force of 'grammarians' who have decided that the use of the plural for bicycle forks is strictly incorrect. I wonder if their judgements are published anywhere, or are they only discoverable at the end of long discussion threads when all other sources of evidence to support an unsubstantiated assertion have been exhausted lol.

And 'a pair of twins' - well I haven't heard it said, and anyway this thread is about singular objects referred to as plural. But just to indulge the digression - trousers only come with two legs (btw, they have the same construction as bicycle forks, one joined part at the top and two identical legs lol, do the grammarians know that, or are they above such worldly matters as clothes), the same as twins only come in twos. So if you agree with the argument that a pair of twins is 4 people, you would also say that a pair of trousers is 4 legs, right?

ian2 January 7, 2011, 6:17am

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OK, I'm just going to ask once more before I give up. Why is it 'incorrect'? Who says it's incorrect? What evidence is there anywhere that it's incorrect? Just you saying a thousand times that 'strictly speaking it's incorrect' just isn't doing it for me.

ian2 January 6, 2011, 11:02am

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You see this is where my understanding falls down, and I'm sorry if I'm being a bit thick here. "Strictly speaking forks is incorrect when we speak of the front forks of a pushbike".

So forks are defined as such in the OED. The word is in extensive and common usage, including by the makers of such things. So what reasons are there for saying it's incorrect? How could it achieve correctness? After all, words haven't been around for ever - don't they achieve correctness firstly by coming into common usage, then appearing in a dictionary, and that's it? Or is there some other secret process they need to go through before they are deemed 'correct'?

Incidentally, and still playing around with the word, when you come to a fork in the road, you can choose between taking the left fork or the right fork. But you only came to one fork.....

ian2 January 6, 2011, 9:48am

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I guess we're back to the question as I originally asked it then. But I still don't understand how, when the OED gives forks as the correct form in the UK and Australia you're still claiming that as incorrect. And yes, of course the manufacturer means a single set of front forks, (the back forks are part of the frame and can't be bought separately) and specifically calls them a pair of forks. My question was more about how that arose and why it's different and why we call single things such as forks, trousers and scissors by a plural form. I guess I wasn't really expecting the response that in certain cases the OED and everyone in England is simply wrong, but it's an interesting viewpoint nevertheless.

ian2 January 5, 2011, 5:49pm

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"Well, you could try the OED for a start."

On your advice I did! (The online version).

[3 (usually forks) each of a pair of supports in which a bicycle or motorcycle wheel revolves.]

"Do you have any evidence that forks is grammatically correct rather than just the colloquial use?"

Well if the OED isn't enough, I would think the people who actually make the things might know what they are called. - if you don't want to click the link, it says "GRAB A PAIR OF RC31 FORKS…QUICK!" (Pace manufacture and sell bicycle forks).

So I'm still not sure that "fork is strictly correct" is strictly correct.

ian2 January 5, 2011, 12:41pm

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"Fork is strictly correct" - an interesting conclusion - is there any evidence for it?

ian2 January 5, 2011, 4:41am

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Yes, completely obvious, sorry for asking! Now I just need to go and fix my bike - the fork (U.S. English) or forks (U.K. English) is/are broken. It's cold outside, so I'll be wearing my sweater (singular), which will keep my two arms warm, and my trousers (plural) to keep my two legs warm. To keep clean, I would wear my pair of overalls - unfortunately I can't find the pivot to hold them together. Lol.

ian2 December 13, 2010, 5:25am

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That's a great response, I hadn't thought of that. Thanks a lot.

ian2 October 7, 2010, 9:35am

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