Monday, April 7, 2014

Get Latin plurals right, BBC, it's not difficult

Latin plurals like "data" (plural of "datum") take a plural verb.

It is really, really stupid and illiterate, BBC, of your presenters to keep saying things like "the data shows" and "the data is".

On the other hand, it is also silly to make fake Latin plurals of words that did not exist in Roman times, like "referenda" as the plural of "referendum". 

Don't you have a style guide or at least somebody to advise you who passed O Level English Language in the days when grammar was still taught in English schools?

1 comment:

  1. I don't usually comment on my own posts. This is a rare exception.
    After sober consideration and consultation, I need to add this qualifier:
    Several respected authorities advocate treating "data" as a singular noun in the above examples because it is there being used as a collective noun, not as a collection of individual data points. I disagree with this, but accept that it is valid usage. The problem is that there is a fine, probably indistinguishable line, between cases in which the word "data" can be argued to be a collective noun and in cases in which it is not. I will myself therefore continue to use "data" as a plural, while exercising tolerance towards those writers and editors who prefer not to do so at all times.