Staff = employee

Charles C Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Wed Nov 9 15:10:34 UTC 2011

And the forms that we notice are those for which the development is still in process.  Like "troop," and "minority"--as in "There are only four minorities in my class" or "Is he a minority?"


From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of Wilson Gray [hwgray at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Tuesday, November 08, 2011 11:25 PM

On Tue, Nov 8, 2011 at 7:40 PM, Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at> wrote:
> 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.


The American Dialect Society -

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