Staff = employee

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Wed Nov 9 00:40:21 UTC 2011

On Nov 8, 2011, at 2:02 PM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:

> I have fought many battles with Japanese clients who want to talk about
> their "staffs" (employees) as "sutafu" is a common Japanese word. AFAIK,
> I have always won, but it is a losing battle.
> Today, Jimmy Wales' Wiki statement has the following
> (
> -----
> Google might have close to a million servers. Yahoo has something like
> 13,000 staff. We have 400 servers and 73 staff.

a fairly common development: an original collective or mass (singular) noun is reinterpreted as a zero-plural, and/or a singular (non-collective) noun develops, with a regular plural.  so: from original mass "spam" ("much spam") we get zero-plural "spam" ("many/100 spam") and ordinary count "spam" ("many/100 spams").


The American Dialect Society -

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