"Feedback" a count noun?

Wilson Gray wilson.gray at RCN.COM
Wed Dec 15 23:13:47 UTC 2004

On Dec 15, 2004, at 1:35 PM, Dennis Baron wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Dennis Baron <debaron at UIUC.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: "Feedback" a count noun?
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> --------
> homeworks is common enough in the world of high school: can't tell you
> how many times my kids' teachers say, oh yeah, they're missing three
> homeworks. In this case it's short for separate hw assignments. I
> wonder if that then leads to people saying, "Ok, hand your homeworks in
> now" -- referring to lots of copies of a single assignment. I don't
> have access to other people's classrooms so I can't tell.
> On a similar subject, it still sounds odd to me when I hear people
> talking about a troop, referring to a single soldier.
> Dennis

"Troop" used to *address* a single individual has been around since at
least the '50's, when my service in the military began. "Stand TALL up
in there, troop!" was the standard admonition addressed to anyone
deemed not to be, e.g. standing sufficiently at attention. It formerly
sounded strange to me, too, but I had plenty of time to become
accustomed to it.;-) Nevertheless, It somehow bothers me to see "troop"
used in the print medium to refer to a single soldier. On the other
hand, though, when a sergeant issued a *formal* command to an
individual, that individual was addressed as "one soldier." "One
soldier! Tinch-HUT!" If memory serves, the only formal commands that
can be issued to an individual or to a group not already standing at
attention are "Attention!", "Carry on!", and, under certain conditions,
"At ease!" BTW, despite what you see in the movies, "As you were!"
means "Ignore what I just said!" and not "Go back to  what you were
doing before you were called to attention!" It's "Carry on!" that has
that meaning. And "At ease!" means "Shut up!", as opposed to "Stand at
... HEASE!" addressed to a troop - singular or plural - which means
"Assume the position known as "standing at ease."

-Wilson Gray

> On Dec 15, 2004, at 12:12 PM, Beverly Flanigan wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Beverly Flanigan <flanigan at OHIO.EDU>
>> Subject:      Re: "Feedback" a count noun?
>> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>> -
>> --------
>> Compare surgeries, homeworks, informations, researches. . . .  The
>> first is
>> now common (not so in my youth); the other three are common among L2
>> speakers of English; and the second one is now spreading to native
>> speakers
>> as well (my TAs use it).

More information about the Ads-l mailing list