Student or Learner
What's the difference between the singular and the plural? When do we use each of them?
Last edited by ostap77; 16-Jan-2012 at 12:17.
*** NOT A TEACHER ***
(1) I most respectfully and gently submit that here in the United States, the plural is used.
(2) Among the many examples I googled:
(a) We study and teach the languages, literatures, and cultures of the Russian and
other Slavic peoples. (University of California at Berkeley)
(b) The only journal in the United States that focuses exclusively on American
Indian literatures. [My note: There are many Native-American tribes, each with its own
(c) The Department of East Asian Languages and literatures at the University of
Hawaii. [My note: Chinese literature, Japanese literature, Korean literature, etc.]
'Literatures' is pretty uncommon in both varieties of English, BNC has 49 citations (5,246 for the uncountable) and COCA has 305 (28,055 for the uncountable). I cannot come up with a natural context for 'Ukranian literatures', though doubtless somebody will.
As far as learners are concerned, I would tell anyone who came up with an example of the word in the plural that if they use word as an uncountable noun, they will be correct in 99.9% of the sentences they create. If they use it in the plural form they are likely to sound unnatural in 99% of the sentences they create.
You won't need to use "literatures" unless you need to write in the language of academic postmodernism.
“Literatures” has been introduced into discourse to deconstruct the hegemonic concept of “Literature” which implies that there is a canonical Literature on one hand, and non-literature on the other, rather than a spectrum of this-literature and that-literature. That is, it refuses to marginalise the other-literatures. It forces us to accept the diversity or, better put, the diversities existant in that which we call the Literary. It opens a foramen into a discourse on our own private literatures; the oral, the written, perhaps even only the felt, the subtly nuanced, the barely articulated, perhaps even the pre-thought, unconscious narrative that until now has been silenced by the deafening, yet ultimately impotent, authority of a monolithic “Literature”.