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Italian Plurals

awnlee jawking

I just wrote 'the graffiti was completely obscured'. Then I did a quick internet search to check whether that was correct. 'Oxford Dictionaries' says I'm wrong, it should be 'the graffiti were completely obscured' to preserve the Italian plurality, but the balance of all the references indicated 'graffiti is' to be the most common de facto use by a significant margin.

(Common usage also seems to favour 'scampi is' over 'scampi are', but the margin is much slimmer.)

The correct way to formulate the question I want to ask is eluding my tired old brain, so instead:

Which would you use and why? And for the editors among you, would you do anything if you encountered either in a story?

AJ

Replies:   aubie56  Switch Blayde
aubie56

@awnlee jawking

It seems to me that, in common US usage, "graffiti" is a collective noun and should take the singular verb form. Okay, that's my opinion, for what it's worth. Good luck with the purists.

awnlee jawking

@aubie56

Okay, that's my opinion, for what it's worth.


Thank you, that's exactly the sort of response I was hoping for.

AJ

Ernest Bywater

I concur.

Ross at Play
Updated:

Where does it end if you start basing what meanings words have on their original language.
If I'm not using italics to show something is a word from a foreign language, I treat it as a word in the English language.
To me, graffiti is a collective noun.
Scampi, which I just had to look up 'cos Aussies eat prawns, mate, I would think of as plural (many prawns) rather than singular (the name of a dish).

So for me, it would be 'graffiti is' and 'scampi are'.

As an editor I would make my recommendations accordingly. I look up my dictionary very often, but it would not occur to me to look up whether or not it deemed these words were singular/plural or countable/uncountable.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


Which would you use and why?


I would write "graffiti is" for the same reason I would write "the family is" even though there's more than one person in the family.

Now, would you write "data is" or "data are"?

It should be "data are" because the singular is "datum is" and the plural is "data are." However, "data is" is what most people would say.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Scampi, which I just had to look up 'cos Aussies eat prawns, mate, I would think of as plural (many prawns) rather than singular (the name of a dish).

Sorry, "Scampi" doesn't mean "prawns", it's an Italian dish featuring prawns over pasta with a sauce, thus it's a "prawn/pasta dish" not the prawns themselves.

But I agree with both you and Ernest. We're NOT using the Italian definition, as we're using the English term, which is a plural collective.

By the way, what's a singular confetti? A confetta?

Nope, the singular of "confetti" is "confetto", as in "You have a confetto in your nose from the confetti you cleaned off your storefront."

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

It should be "data are" because the singular is "datum is" and the plural is "data are." However, "data is" is what most people would say.

Nope. Since the singular is "datum", that makes "data" another plural collective, making is "data is" since you're referring to ALL the data as a single entity.

By the way, why aren't we discussing this shit in the "Editors Forum"?

Replies:   REP  Switch Blayde
REP

@Crumbly Writer

why aren't we discussing this shit in the "Editors Forum"?


Because Authors write it. Do it right the first time.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@REP

Because Authors write it. Do it right the first time.

But if WE do it right, and the Editors think it's wrong, we'll repeat this entire discussion all over again. :(

That's WHY I asked my "two day's time" question.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Nope. Since the singular is "datum", that makes "data" another plural collective,


My field was Data Management (DBA/DA). Trust me, "data" is plural and is "data are." But no one says that.

ETA: Grammar Girl's take:

So if data is correct as both a count noun and as a mass noun, which should you use? It comes down to style and personal preference. Many academic and scientific fields, as well as many publishers and newspapers, still insist on the plural count noun use of data, as in The data are compelling, but it is more commonly used as a singular mass noun, as in The data is compelling.

Replies:   Joe Long  Ross at Play  REP
Joe Long

@Switch Blayde

Trust me, "data" is plural and is "data are." But no one says that.


Same as "the media are idiots."

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

That's WHY I asked my "two day's time" question.

Just to be clear ... You are aware that Grammar Monster, Grammar Girl, CMOS, and New Harts Rules all say that should be "two days' time"?

Crumbly Writer

@Joe Long

Same as "the media are idiots."

Which is wrong too, since it's the alt-President who's the idiot in this case (not that I'm critiquing him, but because he doesn't seem to have the slightest clue how the government function and lies about everything (lies, or simply doesn't KNOW what the truth is, which qualifies him as an "idiot"?).

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

My field was Data Management (DBA/DA). Trust me, "data" is plural and is "data are." But no one says that.

The Ox. Dict. agrees with you - sort of.
It suggests in a technical field where the word 'datum' may be used, then 'data' is plural.
For the rest of us 'data' is a mass noun and may be used as singular or plural depending on the context.

Ross at Play

@Joe Long

"the media are idiots."

That must be true, because all mediums are idiots.

Replies:   Dominions Son
REP

@Switch Blayde

But no one says that.


Grammar in evolution, and we are between the prior and future definitions. :)

Collective nouns, like data, are fine for general use.

In certain situations, it is important to differentiate between singular (datum) and plural (data), and in those situations, the participants all need to agree that data is not being used as a collective noun.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

That must be true, because all mediums are idiots.


A midget psychic escaped from prison. Headline: Small Medium at Large.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  Joe Long
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

It suggests in a technical field where the word 'datum' may be used, then 'data' is plural.
For the rest of us 'data' is a mass noun and may be used as singular or plural depending on the context.

I've never ONCE heard anyone say: "The datum confirms that Trump is an idiot." As far as I'm concerned, "Datum" is a meaningless term, as I can't conceive of every using it in a census. Now, it might be a specific industry term, but even then, I can't picture an author ever using it, even when discussing IT professionals or statisticians, so who the frick CARES?

Data, at least in America, is a collective mass noun.

Crumbly Writer

@REP

In certain situations, it is important to differentiate between singular (datum) and plural (data), and in those situations, the participants all need to agree that data is not being used as a collective noun.

Again, assuming that such needs even exist, it's only a specialized use, not used by anyone outside of that one industry. Therefor, for everyone else, "data is" is the preferred form. It's a meaningless distinction (outside of that one circumstance).

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

A midget psychic escaped from prison. Headline: Small Medium at Large.

Or, if a Large psychic escapes, then the headline is: Large Medium thinks small. Or, in the case of a Medium psychic: Medium Medium at Large.

We could waste days here!

Replies:   Joe Long
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

I can't picture an author ever using it, even when discussing IT professionals or statisticians, so who the frick CARES?

SB had said:

My field was Data Management (DBA/DA). Trust me, "data" is plural and is "data are."

My comment was explaining to others what he said only applies in specialised fields.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

As far as I'm concerned, "Datum" is a meaningless term


There is only one case as an IT professional where I have herd the term "datum" and that's because I work on geospatial database system.

It's not an IT or a statistical term, it's a cartographic term. Specifically, a "datum" is the description/algorithm that relates a map projection to the Earth's spheroid.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  Joe Long
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

It's not an IT or a statistical term, it's a cartographic term. Specifically, a "datum" is the description/algorithm that relates a map projection to the Earth's spheroid.

Ah! That's a better description, as I can picture needing to use that term in that case, but how often will any of us ever create a cartographer character needing to draw a single datum? Thus my point stands. I can see the distinction, but it doesn't impact how authors use the term (unless they're writing a cartographic text book).

Replies:   Dominions Son  Joe Long
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

but how often will any of us ever create a cartographer character needing to draw a single datum?


A cartographer wouldn't ever draw a datum in it's own right. The datum defines the map projection, that is, how the curved surface of the earth is translated onto a flat map surface.

richardshagrin
Updated:

@aubie56


graffiti


Based on a Latin class long, long ago, if graffiti were intended to be singular, it would be graffitus. Consider alumnus vs. alumni.

Also based on long ago memory, datum is singular and data would be plural. Although the plural of rectum is not recta. At least we never discussed them in class. Ass holes were not normally something teachers wanted to talk about. Maybe the gym teacher would address us that way, since it was a male only class.

Joe Long

@Dominions Son

Small Medium at Large.


Reminded me of the "Headless Body in Topless Bar" headline

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

The datum confirms that Trump is an idiot.


That would only be a single piece of evidence and therefor an unreliable small sample size.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

We could waste days here!


Like we haven't already!

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Joe Long

@Dominions Son

It's not an IT or a statistical term, it's a cartographic term. Specifically, a "datum" is the description/algorithm that relates a map projection to the Earth's spheroid.


Projects need to be labeled for reference, and comparing from one zone to another. Rarely do any of my projects require more than one, so it doesn't enter into my work. I let others label it after I'm done. "Hey, is this Virginia South or Virginia North? Is the vertical NAD 1988?"

*Although sometimes we have to convert state planes into latitude & longitude. The FAA has a formula for calculating the center of an airport based on the runway ends, but the formula is in lat/lon.

Joe Long
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


but how often will any of us ever create a cartographer character needing to draw a single datum?


See above!

Ernest Bywater

Do the Mario Brothers qualify as Italian plurals?

awnlee jawking

@richardshagrin

Based on a Latin class long, long ago, if graffiti were intended to be singular, it would be graffitus.


Joking aside, the singular is graffito (and scampo, concerto etc).

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

It suggests in a technical field where the word 'datum' may be used


Yes, it crops up in statistics. Doesn't stop statisticians saying 'data is' though ;)

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

Scampi, which I just had to look up 'cos Aussies eat prawns, mate, I would think of as plural (many prawns)


Scampo means a single prawn, but I've yet to see it in English contexts other than those pointing out that scampi is plural cf concerto/concerti.

AJ

Replies:   Joe Long  Crumbly Writer
Joe Long

@awnlee jawking

Scampo means a single prawn


and I had to remember what a prawn was (those delicious shrimp)

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

Based on a Latin class long, long ago, if graffiti were intended to be singular, it would be graffitus. Consider alumnus vs. alumni.

I prefer aluminum. It tastes better! Does that mean I should use graffitum? 'D

Crumbly Writer

@Joe Long

That would only be a single piece of evidence and therefor an unreliable small sample size.

Then you get my point, that people are unlikely to reference any 'single point of data' in normal conversation. I still contend that it's a definition useful for only a single industry, and even there, is seldom used, as most people in the industry would still use the common mass-quantity "data".

Replies:   Joe Long
Crumbly Writer

@Joe Long

Like we haven't already!

I was getting a bit testy yesterday (duh!), because I asked, what I thought, were two simple questions, and I lost the entire rest of the day debating what types of words the various answers were, rather than figuring out how to phrase the damn sentences!

Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

Then you get my point, that people are unlikely to reference any 'single point of data' in normal conversation.


In sports, journalists and fans (and apparently sometimes teams) draw conclusions from tiny samples all the time.

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

Scampo means a single prawn, but I've yet to see it in English contexts other than those pointing out that scampi is plural cf concerto/concerti.

Which is a point which is confusing many of us, since the original question, and your answer, are referencing the Italian usages, while the rest of us are referencing the American term and usages (i.e. is it the Italian plural, or the plural of an Italian word in an English context?). Thus, once again, we're mainly talking past one another.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
REP
Updated:

It seems to me that UK and English speakers take a foreign word and use it for what they want it to mean. Once the foreign word is accepted into the English vocabulary, we need to stop trying to fit its foreign meaning, syntax, etc., to Our new word.

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

I'm just chewing the cud. I'm satisfied that my 'graffiti was competely obscured' won't offend my reader(s) sensibilities. ;)

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Joe Long

and I had to remember what a prawn was


That prompted me to look up 'prawn' in urban dictionaries for a meaning from childhood days, as in "don't be a prawn" ie an ass or a dumbass. I couldn't find it! But I did find a meaning I was unfamiliar with - a girl with a decent body but substandard face.

AJ

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long

@awnlee jawking

a girl with a decent body but substandard face.


A two-bagger. I have one in my story. She gave a great blow job.

That scene was pulled from a real-life story. My friend and I were on the CB cruising for loose chicks and got some girl with a sweet voice who lived up a dirt road on the side of the mountain. We got up there and she was on the porch. In the low light her body looked fantastic in her Daisy Dukes. Then we parked and saw she had a face like the witch from Oz. We both said some pleasantries and drove off. In the story, my friend get's the BJ but I turn it down as I was turned off by the spectacle and was holding out for true love.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Joe Long

A two-bagger. I have one in my story.

In my current story I have a character saying, "bring a second bag for yourself ... and a hazmat suit."
Naturally, he did not say no when the opportunity arose.

AmigaClone

@richardshagrin

Based on a Latin class long, long ago, if graffiti were intended to be singular, it would be graffitus. Consider alumnus vs. alumni.


I remember at least one story referring to martinus since the characters in the story just wanted one.

Also based on long ago memory, datum is singular and data would be plural.


There is a third (specialized) case Data - who is an individual in the Star Trek universe

Replies:   Joe Long
Switch Blayde

My brishop took your prawn.

Joe Long

@AmigaClone

There is a third (specialized) case Data - who is an individual in the Star Trek universe


Data's brother was named Lore. I also heard he had a sister named Rumor.

Crumbly Writer

@Joe Long

Data's brother was named Lore. I also heard he had a sister named Rumor.

Nope, in true SOL style, the sister's name was "Datum". 'D

Replies:   Switch Blayde  Joe Long
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Nope, in true SOL style, the sister's name was "Datum". 'D


Data had multiple sisters and, like George Foreman named all his sons George, his parents named all their daughters Datum.

So when Data told his parents, "Data is going to my room," they thought he was referring to himself in the 3rd-person when he meant his sisters were going to his room for an orgy.

Now if his grammar had been correct, he would have said, "Data are going to my room," and his parents would have become suspicious.

Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

I really hope I don't have to explain the joke.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Joe Long

I really hope I don't have to explain the joke.

No, I got yours, but I was 'piling on', adding a separate joke of my own. Do I need to explain that one to you? (Hint: As far as I know, Data never had ANY sisters. Instead, mine was a sexist joke.)

StarFleet Carl

@Joe Long

Reminded me of the "Headless Body in Topless Bar" headline


Would that be the one where the insane man attacked his nurse, then fled the asylum?

Nut Screws and Bolts ...

StarFleet Carl

@Joe Long

Data's brother was named Lore. I also heard he had a sister named Rumor.


No, but he had a daughter named Lal.

Dr. Noonian Singh only made Lore and Data. But Data was fully functional, as Tasha Yar AND the Borg Queen found out.

Dominions Son

@Joe Long

Data's brother was named Lore. I also heard he had a sister named Rumor.


They actually had two sisters, Rumora and Anecdote.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

They actually had two sisters, Rumora and Anecdote.

And a little brother named Thesaurus? 'D

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