Message text written by Trevor Jordan
>A large number of people IS of the opinion that the word DATA IS a
>plural in English as it is in Latin. I would argue that it IS really
>a collective noun in English because DATUM has a separate meaning in
>English. We could even justify a plural of DATUM as in "Different
>DATUMS are in use in different locations".
The use of "datums" is similar to the use of "persons." Although the term
"people" has a very similar meaning there is a subtle difference when using
"persons." Much like the term "individuals."
>If anyone still believes that the word DATA is a plural in English, I
>can only ask what your AGENDA are.
If "data" were to be considered an indivisible set of "datums' then I guess
"data" would be a singular noun but if "data" were a collection of "datums"
of which some may be evaluated on their own, where some "datums" may be
added and others deleted then "data" would fall into the same catagory as
"people." And I have no agendas.
>Then were have those wonderful spurious plurals in English such as
>TROUSERS and SCISSORS which confuse non-native speakers. Try
>ordering (or wearing/using) just one.
If one were to study the etymology of these words (or rather the
development of these devices) one would find that they started out as,
indeed, two individual parts. A pant (or trouser) was what we would today
call a pant leg (or trouser leg). Clothing has progressed to incorporate
two pants into a single garment covering the body upto the waist. The
Random House Dictionary defines "scissors" as a cutting device consisting
of two consisting of two blades so pivoted that their sharp edges work one
against the other. The dictionary also defines "scission" as "cutting,
dividing, or splitting."
So, although fashion constraints prevent us from buying a pant or trouser
or single leg covering, it is easy to conceive that one could be fashioned
(and will likely show up on a Madonna video before the year is out) and
although a "scissor" is a rather useless object and are therefore sold only
in pairs... well you get the point.