What has happened to Nikon?

Started Feb 14, 2013 | Discussions thread
GroWeb Regular Member • Posts: 152
Re: OT -- Re: singular vs. plural

shigzeo ? wrote:

This is also an arguable point; grammar is fluid from region to region. Sentences in English tend to run longer. Americans meander with pronunciation, but tend to prefer shorter sentences. It's all fluid. Even moving across the border to Canada will show up differences from what is typified as "North American English".

It is absolutely true that language is fluid, as you point out, and this is why we no longer speak the English of Chaucer or Shakespeare. The regional differences are a reflection of the incredible flexibility and adaptability that have made English the most broadly used "lingua franca" (nice irony) of modern times. However, the standard rules of English grammar -- like the definitions in the standard dictionaries -- operate as a control on the pace of change and on the continuing ability of people from various regions to understand each other. Those standards change at a slower pace than their absence would allow.

Corporations/companies are treated as groups, hence 'are' in certain places in the world; in others, they are singular. There is no fast rule that spans the continents.

And the name of a group is a singular collective noun, not a plural noun, according to the current rules of standard English grammar (pardon me for only now introducing the concept of standard English; I know that this may be seen to be unfairly narrowing and bolstering my point). Examples: "my family is ..." versus "my relatives are ... ," or "my parents are ..." versus "the older generation is ... ." Divergence from this rule is non-standard. Admittedly, I do not know whether this divergence has made it into any of the standard grammar guides; in fact, I don't even know what the standard grammar guides would be, unless they are the style guides used by editors.

Still, English influenced places in Canada still use English patterns.

Newfoundland is a unique and amazing example of this. Several centuries of English (and other) patterns can be found living there.

Technically, a company can be referred to as an inanimate object or a group, and the singular is used.

Exactly so.

When referring to the individuals in the company, or team, or country, electorate, etc., you can use plural, too.

Of course. For instance, "the executive committee is ... " versus "the executives are ... ."

Only the author knows what they mean. Or, plural can be 'incorrect' as it should refer to members in the group, but if we are going to knock on grammar doors, might as well hammer everything out there.

Why not, eh? (Pardon my Canadianism.)

It's the internet, not a university paper. Grammar on the screen is just a computer extrapolating the chaos of a person's typing into legible words. Or, illegible words. I'm not sure which it is in my case.

I know. That's why I don't generally bring this stuff up. I also know that the only thing that really matters is whether I understand what the person means, not whether they used proper grammar in expressing their meaning (notice my use of the recently evolved application of the plural third person pronoun to avoid a gender-specific singular pronoun? Maybe I'm really just a confused hypocrite). I just couldn't resist the opportunity your initial post presented. Thanks for the response.

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