Trivia Teaser

Which is the name of one of Santa's reindeer?

Answer
Lancer
Dancer
Chancer

Many Many Many

16
Aug
2013
 

By Miranda

Language is a lovely thing but it does get in the way when you're trying to watch an incisive documentary on the origins and justifications for the Gulf War and the only thing you can concentrate on is anomalous plurals.

 

Or are they?

 

We have many initialisms and acronyms in our language; SCUBA, LASER and ANZAC, for those pronounced as a word, and BBC, BRF, USA spoken as letters, and some like the text-speak LOL which may be either "loll" or "ell oh ell".

 

Which brings me to weapons of mass destruction. A WMD is a weapon of mass destruction but, in the course of the incisive documentary, almost none of which I remember, it became clear that most British and American English speakers, at least in this political/military/academic-side of-both-the-previous world, do not add a simple plural-indicating 's' to a WMD, making WMDs, but consider WMD as a mass noun, like sheep or happiness. Well, perhaps not like happiness.

 

I had, before now, thought of the plural of WMD as WMDs, so this use was jarring.

 

So, why?

 

Is it because the noun in this phrase, that is the 'weapons', occurs at the beginning of the phrase and thus people thought you couldn't add a plural 's' on to the last letter D, because that might mean 'destructions'? Yet, I should have thought that the contraction to WMD would have been enough to make the WMD a new unit in itself, thus taking the standard 'it's plural, put an 's' on the end'.

 

I'm struggling to find enough examples of phrases in which the noun occurs first, or, at least, not last, and which have been contracted to an initialism.

 

Indeed I'm stuck on ROUS, the rodents of unusual size in The Princess Bride. But there we have reluctance to put another sibilant on, be it never so plural. ROUSes is ridiculous.

 

Any initialism suggestions?

42 Responses to

Many Many Many

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said:
September 01, 2013 at 11:21 PM

I l-o-v-e her.

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said:
September 02, 2013 at 12:06 AM

Thank you Jafa. I (obviously) love her and her foibles too. Gran has taught me so much. More than schools or my own life experiences could ever teach me in so many fields. But for the purpose of this blog, grammar was learnt by "granma". P.S. Did you note that I started a sentence with "but"? Whoops. Sorry Gran.

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said:
September 02, 2013 at 8:38 PM

Woops! Sorry Gran, I either meant "taught by Granma" or "learnt from Granma" I can't remember which. It was late at night and I didn't check my own work before pressing "submit"

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nan_j said:
September 03, 2013 at 5:38 PM

I for one have never heard of throwing die! We always threw the dice.

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said:
September 03, 2013 at 11:01 PM

nanna_j, bare in mind that die is the SINGULAR of dice so you would not throw die. You would throw A die or throw dice. The reason you rarely hear it used is that the majority of dice games involve two or more dice so "throwing the dice" is the more common and correct term for most games. I used "snakes and ladders" as an example because it was one of the few games I could think of that uses a single die.

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said:
September 04, 2013 at 5:42 AM

Whilst going about my day-to-day life the signage errors that consistently irritate me the most are possession aprostrophes, especially when the name ends in an 's'. eg. 'Chris's Fruit Shop.'

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said:
September 04, 2013 at 5:54 AM

'Tis okay to begin a sentence with 'but', 'and', 'so', etc; as long as it is done correctly. We teach kids to refrain from beginning a sentence in this way as they are conjunctions, ie. sentence joiners, and mistakes are easily made. But your 'but' sentence was fine, K88.

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said:
September 04, 2013 at 1:57 PM

Thanks Jafa

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Susiefran said:
September 05, 2013 at 10:15 PM

Not every English speaking country teaches grammar, some are now coming to the conclusion that it should be taught. I presume on account of all the above anomalies of today's language. Oh dear I am showing my age!

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said:
September 06, 2013 at 12:03 AM

Welcome aboard Susiefran if this is your first time(I have not seen your name before) We have lots of fun exchangeing tidits of grammer, protocols and the like so keep posted.

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Krasher said:
September 06, 2013 at 8:16 AM

Thanks rathead you made me smile, lol

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said:
September 06, 2013 at 4:14 PM

what a name