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  1. #1
    suprunp's Avatar
    suprunp is offline Senior Member
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    Default neat and trim in white *duck*

    The Japanese, with their obsequious smile, are neat and trim in white duck, while their women walk a step or two behind them, in native dress, with a baby on their backs.
    (W.S. Maugham; Honolulu)

    duck
    1. a heavy, plain-weave cotton fabric for tents, clothing, bags, etc., in any of various weights and widths.
    (Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary)
    2. ducks plural : light clothes made of duck ; especially : trousers made of such material
    (Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language)

    Why didn't W.S. Maugham use 'ducks' in the original sentence?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: neat and trim in white *duck*

    Quote Originally Posted by suprunp View Post
    The Japanese, with their obsequious smile, are neat and trim in white duck, while their women walk a step or two behind them, in native dress, with a baby on their backs.
    (W.S. Maugham; Honolulu)

    duck
    1. a heavy, plain-weave cotton fabric for tents, clothing, bags, etc., in any of various weights and widths.
    (Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary)
    2. ducks plural : light clothes made of duck ; especially : trousers made of such material
    (Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language)

    Why didn't W.S. Maugham use 'ducks' in the original sentence?

    Thanks.
    How can we possibly know why W.S. Maugham chose to use "duck" instead of "ducks"?

  3. #3
    suprunp's Avatar
    suprunp is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: neat and trim in white *duck*

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    How can we possibly know why W.S. Maugham chose to use "duck" instead of "ducks"?
    Maybe you use 'duck' in the same manner W.S. Maugham supposedly used it there, or at least you saw it used that way?

    Thanks.

  4. #4
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: neat and trim in white *duck*

    Its common with fabric names to apply or omit an s with no great effect on the sense - except that the plural can be used to refer to a range of fabrics or clothes: 'After her marriage she was always wearing silks and satins'.

    b

  5. #5
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: neat and trim in white *duck*

    I think I have mentioned this before, suprunp (if not, I intended to): very few, if any, writers produce what would be universally accepted as 'perfect English', because perfect English does not exist. Writers on grammar in the past (Cobbett, Fowler and Vallins spring to mind) have delighted in discovering examples of supposedly 'bad English' in the works of 'good' writers.

    Even if writers had a style guide beside them as they wrote, and checked every single word and construction before they wrote them down, they would not satisfy the writer of a different style guide.

  6. #6
    suprunp's Avatar
    suprunp is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: neat and trim in white *duck*

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    I think I have mentioned this before, suprunp (if not, I intended to): very few, if any, writers produce what would be universally accepted as 'perfect English', because perfect English does not exist. Writers on grammar in the past (Cobbett, Fowler and Vallins spring to mind) have delighted in discovering examples of supposedly 'bad English' in the works of 'good' writers.
    Yes, I pretty well realise this, 5jj. My goal is not to nitpick on writers' grammar or choosing of the words, but rather understand whether this or that particular construction or word is used, since one can't always rely on dictionaries as a sole source of every facet of the English language, or whether it is a mere one-off slip of the tongue or even a typographical error.

  7. #7
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: neat and trim in white *duck*

    I've never heard of "duck" as a type of clothing, so can offer you no advice about how to use it properly.

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