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  1. #1
    Route21's Avatar
    Route21 is offline Senior Member
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    Default The data "point" vs "points"

    Hi

    Here's one for the teachers....

    On the BBC website (BBC News - Rice traced to single domestication event in China), today, I noticed the following comment about the origins of rice:

    "Depending on how the researchers calibrated their clock, the data point to an origin of domesticated rice around 8,200 years ago."

    Yes, I know that "data" is the plural of "datum", hence "point" rather than "points", but it does tend to jar a little on this NES's ear.

    Is this another instance of: "Never end a sentence with a preposition, because a preposition is the wrong word to end a sentence with"?

    Comments?
    R21

    PS I love Thai Hom Mali (Jasmine Rice), but the price has soared here to more than double that of regular rice!

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    freezeframe is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: The data "point" vs "points"

    It doesn't bother me. But I'm used to reading boooooring scholarly texts.

    Data - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary

    Usage Discussion of DATA

    Data leads a life of its own quite independent of datum, of which it was originally the plural. It occurs in two constructions: as a plural noun (like earnings), taking a plural verb and plural modifiers (as these, many, a few) but not cardinal numbers, and serving as a referent for plural pronouns (as they, them); and as an abstract mass noun (like information), taking a singular verb and singular modifiers (as this, much, little), and being referred to by a singular pronoun (it). Both constructions are standard. The plural construction is more common in print, evidently because the house style of several publishers mandates it.

  3. #3
    Route21's Avatar
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    Default Re: The data "point" vs "points"

    Hi freezeframe

    Many thanks for your post - I feel a lot better after reading the quote:

    "......and as an abstract mass noun (like information), taking a singular verb and singular modifiers (as this, much, little), and being referred to by a singular pronoun (it).", which is exactly how I would interpret it in such a case!

    I used to look up to BBC English as being something to be emulated, but am a little disappointed by their "house-style" if that is what is driving the grammar here.

    Best regards
    R21

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    freezeframe is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: The data "point" vs "points"

    In defense of BBC...

    It could be that they copied that usage from the scientific article that was used as the source. As you well know sciences have their own usage conventions that differ from "normal" English.*


    *just like other disciplines

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