Another one bites the dust?

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 6 21:05:37 UTC 2007

Back in the day, there was in Saint Louis a picture show for the
colored with the name, "Criterion." My impression is that I've heard
and read "criteria" used as a singular since the Criterion closed

I worked at the circ desk of Harvard's Widener Library for a couple of
dekkids and I heard "I'm an alumni" (and, therefore, eligible for
special treatment) used *exclusively* - perhaps I exaggerate, but not
much - by both sexes, regardless of race, creed, color, previous
condition of servitude, or sexual orientation. Each time, my mind
screamed, "It's 'alumnus' / 'alumna,' you non-classically-educated
ass! Simply say, 'I'm a graduate' and stop trying to impress with your
lack of knowledge of Latin." :-)


On 9/6/07, ronbutters at <ronbutters at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       ronbutters at AOL.COM
> Subject:      Re: Another one bites the dust?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Such examples get discussed here periodically, and the issue is pretty trivial. The anglicization of loan words is normal and inevitable.
> Those of us who know (or care) about the foreign-language plural forms for various loans are in a minority. I personally chuckle when I hear Duke English professors say "a criteria," but I also chuckle at my own snobbery. I do not myself use "datum" or "criterium" -- & I pronounce an "-s" on "flower" to pluralize it, even though the French generally do not.
> ------Original Message------
> From: Joel S. Berson
> Sender: American Dialect Society
> ReplyTo: American Dialect Society
> Sent: Sep 6, 2007 12:22 PM
> Subject: Re: [ADS-L] Another one bites the dust?
> At 9/6/2007 12:03 PM, Gerald Cohen wrote:
> >I've often heard "a phenomena" and "a criteria,"  and last night on
> >the news someone spoke of "a paparazzi." We deal here with a
> >tendency (not a law, though, of course) to shift the plural to the
> >singular. I've noticed many more examples over the years, but they
> >don't come to mind at the moment.  Maybe it's time to compile them.
> And "a grafitti".
> Joel
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