Staff = employee

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 9 04:25:00 UTC 2011

On Tue, Nov 8, 2011 at 7:40 PM, Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender: Â  Â  Â  American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster: Â  Â  Â  Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject: Â  Â  Â Re: Staff = employee
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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. Â so: from original mass "spam" ("much spam") we get zero-plural "spam" ("many/100 spam") and ordinary count "spam" ("many/100 spams").
> arnold
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

Like _troop_, once only a specific unit composed of calvarymen, now
any random, individual soldier of any branch of the Army, in addition
to retaining its original meaning in relevant contexts.

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint
to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society -

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