A more complete information

Dennis R. Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Sat May 22 20:37:13 UTC 2004

Your reliable respondent in Spanish overlooked informaciones (pl.);
in fact. it's countable in most languages (European and otherwise) -
just like furnitures.


>What do people on this list think about whether *information* is countable?  I
>got the following in a University-wide e-mail recently.
>Join your fellow students for a more complete information about what is
>already underway and ways for students to become involved.  Oh, and there
>will be pizza, too.
>My own feeling is that *information* is not countable in the normally-used
>sense.  *OED* lists several uses where it is countable, but they are
>all either
>'Obs.' or legal usage;  *Merriam-Webster* doesn't list it as countable at all.
>Google and Google Groups hits for "an information" are almost all "an
>information x", of course, where *information* is used attributively
>and *x* is
>*superhighway*, *specialist* or something.  Of the five hits in the
>top hundred
>of each search where *information* is genuinely countable, four are probably
>from non-native speakers of English and one is in a legal sense.
>I know that *information* is countable in French;  I'm reliably
>informed that it
>isn't in Spanish.  I'm tempted to ascribe these countable uses of the word in
>English to non-native error (the University message above wasn't signed, so I
>can't tell who wrote it), but I wonder whether people here have come
>across the
>use in native English.
>Damien Hall
>University of Pennsylvania

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic,
        Asian and African Languages
Wells Hall A-740
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027 USA
Office: (517) 353-0740
Fax: (517) 432-2736

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