2005-12-20 12:23 pm (UTC)
What's a "linguistic", then? It ain't a noun.
2005-12-20 12:19 pm (UTC)
off the top of my head I'd say that 'data' is any quantity; you might talk about 'a piece of data' but not 'a data'. 'the data' refers to whatever's there, like 'the water'.
an arrogant tw*t of a producer told me recently, when a presenter was talking about a single 'dice' that the use has changed and I shouldn't be so pedantic (just like apostrophes). He didn't like being wrong, that's all (admittedly most welcome my little grammatical corrections from the back of the gallery).
2005-12-20 12:24 pm (UTC)
an arrogant tw*t of a producer told me recently, when a presenter was talking about a single 'dice' that the use has changed
I'm not entirely sure that he was wrong.
I think of data as plural.
Have a LJ comment.
I think data if the plural of datum.
2005-12-20 12:49 pm (UTC)
[ ] singular
[ ] plural
"Agenda" is Latin for "things to be done", but in English it refers to the list
of things to be done rather than the things themselves. So Latin plural does not always equal English plural. There's no such justification for the singularisation of "criteria", however. "Data" is a bit of a grey area, since originally there was a well defined singular "datum". It doesn't fit well with today's usage, though, since "data" is "that which goes into a computation", so it's somewhat fluid (like water, as mzdt
says). You still can't have "a data" (although you can have "a datum"), so it's not directly comparable to "a criteria".
(PS: this comment is a poll response)
2005-12-21 09:10 am (UTC)
For me, data is a mass noun which takes a plural verb, but I don't usually consider it to be a count noun (i.e., it's conceptually a mass of data, like "information", rather than a collection of discrete bits each called a "datum").
Random comment: when talking with my colleagues in German, I sometimes use the (non-standard) plural Datümer when talking about dates (i.e. points in time when something happens; singular: Datum), since the regular plural Daten also means "data". (And in German, as in English, Daten in the sense of "data" doesn't really have a singular.)
When you say "data" is singular, are you sure that's what you mean? I'm guessing you wouldn't say "a data" (singular), and I think most people wouldn't say "several data" (plural). Is it either?
In my experience, data seems to mostly be treated as a bulk term (not sure of the correct term for that, but the same thing mzdt
meant about water) rather than the plural it initally was. "Data point" seems to have superseded "datum", and people are more likely to use "data points" as the plural for that if discussing e.g. particular sets of readings, rather than the more abstract concept of a bunch of experimentally gathered information.
'Mass noun'. It's singular, like 'bread' and 'crockery' and 'liberty'. And 'opera', for pedantic Latinists who are still unhappy.
Criteria, agenda, and data are all plural, but criteria is the only one I regularly use that way. I am fairly inconsistant about using data in English in the singular or plural - I do it both ways. I am much more consistant about using agenda in English as a singular.
I specify "in English" so much since I am entirely consistant in how I use them in Latin - and it's not the same as the way I use them in English.
2005-12-20 01:09 pm (UTC)
I have a sentimental attachment to the concept of data being a plural word, because my mother dedicated her MSc thesis to 'My maths teacher, who taught me that data are plural'. And she, in turn, taught me.
Modern usage may have data as singular, but if I'm writing something where 'a datum' or 'some data' is likely to get copy-edited, I always write 'a dataset' and avoid the problem.
Data is plural, so are agenda and criteria.
My Canadian Oxford Dictionary lists "agenda" as singular, plural "agendas". The Latin root is plural, but it's probably been used as a singular noun (albeit one referring to a list or series of items of business) for so long that the plural usage has become all but obsolete.
"Data" is plural in my book, but can be used as singular when referring to a collection of data points. The use of a plural noun as a singular when referring to a list or collection strikes again.
"Criteria" is definitely plural. Criterion is still in common use as a singular noun, as it should be.
2005-12-20 01:53 pm (UTC)
pedantry leads to madness. which leads to the killing of bunnies. killing bunnies is wrong. if only mad people would kill humans
i suggest the wearing of purple not caring hats(tm) decorated with tinsel
2005-12-20 01:54 pm (UTC)
It might help to think set-theoretically. An element of data is a data point. An element of the agenda is a task. The Criterion is a theatre.
When datum is used idiomatically, for example in geodesy, its plural is datums. Also, the plural of criterium is criteriums. Does this help?
it's like fish. 'cept you can't fry it.
2005-12-20 02:15 pm (UTC)
its quite easy to fry data.
take some wires and some electricity apply to your data. soon its nice and fried.
try it with gherkins too. they glow
2005-12-20 02:57 pm (UTC)
I'd go with the mass noun interpretation, although there do seem to be some dialects where this isn't so.
I work in data - the general consensus across the industry is that data is both singular and plural.. like sheep :)