singular debris?

Gregory {Greg} Downing gd2 at IS2.NYU.EDU
Tue Jul 20 14:06:38 UTC 1999

At 08:59 AM 7/20/99 -0500, you wrote:
>When did debris become singular? Or has it been singular and is
>its use as a plural newer? In the reporting I have seen (Chicago
>Tribune) I have noticed several uses of a subject debris with a
>singular verb--and that jars. There were also, in the same article,
>and, if my memory serves, in the same paragraph, uses of debris
>with a plural verb.
>Barbara Need
>University of Chicago--Linguistics

Is the s at the end of debris a plural marker? Perhaps some folks have taken
it that way, but historically or etymologically, isn't "debris" just a
French verbal noun deriving regularly from a French verb whose stem ends in
s? I'm not sure, but that's my impression.

Greg Downing/NYU, at greg.downing at or gd2 at

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