Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Data, Datum, Dati, Datillium, Datsun

The folks over at Cognitive Daily have blogged about the number properties of the word "data", or rather, they have blogged about the nitpicky prescriptivist grammar complaints that inevitably attend comments on academic paper submissions.

Predictably, the comments sections is filled with people ignoring the main point, and instead making the same prescriptivist claims about the alleged plurality of "data". My 2 cents (in their comments) was simply that the word "data" has evolved into a word like like "deer" or "moose" which can be either singular or plural.


Roelant said...

But it doesn't work for "agenda"!

"I copied the data in my visa about my grandma to my agenda" is fine, but "I copied the datum in my visum about my grandmum in my agendum" sounds weird.....


Chris said...

Heehee, you Dutch are a silly bunch.

BTW, I would add "media" to the growing list of English words that are leveling their number morphology. I suspect English in general is leveling morphological distinctions. Just part of the great cycle of morphological evolution/devolution that all languages seem to engage in.

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