"lion" +/- "-s"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Oct 27 14:31:01 UTC 2008

At 10/27/2008 08:00 AM, Charles Doyle wrote:
>Any of my listmates who watched "60 Minutes" last night will have
>noticed that Scott Pelley, in his segment on Mozambique, employed a
>zero-plural for 'lions' (consistently, and several times)--or,
>rather, he regarded "lion" as a mass noun ("the reintroduction of
>lion into the ecosystem"). The individual he was featuring (an
>American) likewise referred to groups (or masses) as "hippo,"
>"hyena," and "zebra."
>Of course, there's the zero-plural of "deer," by way of analogy,
>along with optional "elk" and "buffalo." But is there a gereral
>tendency to do that with (wild) animal names?

I don't know about "tendency" -- that is, if their has been any
change -- but rather "practice":  Definitely with fishes.  Many fish
of one species are fish; more than one fish of different species are
fishes.  "This koi pond has many carp".  (An introduction to coral
reef fishes I once read addresses this point determinedly.)


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