----- Original Message -----
From: "Howard Friedman" <[log in to unmask]>
> Jon, you wrote
> have used "data" both singular and plural, and in the particular
> context I used it ("discographical data"), singular was appropriate,
> at least as I remember using it.
> Now, for those who still believe "data" must be plural in all contexts
> (other than "word used as a word" usage, e.g. "The word 'data' is
> oftentimes misused."), it would have been written "discographical data
> set", or something equivalent.
> If "data" is singular, what is "people"? What is the context in which "data"
can be a singular noun, any more than "people" can ever be a singular noun?
1) "Data" can be singular in the sense which both Jon and I were using
the word! It referred to a particular entity...one out of a number of
similar entities...which was in turn a dataBASE consisting of an
unstated number (probably plural) of datums. Thus, the "discographic
data" relating to a defined set of phonorecords are plural in the
sense of containing a large number of datums...but singular when
discussed and compared with a similar set concerning a different
group of phonorecords. The "data on Gennett Elecrobeam phonorecords"
becomes one single entity when compared to "the data on 1925-26
Gennett phonorecords"...i.e. "the data on...is more complete than
the data on...!"
2) "People" can be singular when the term refers to one specific
ethnic, racial and/or tribal group...as in "this area of Lower
Slobbovia was originally settled by the Soandso people..."