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Re: proposed changes to debian-faq

Brian Potkin wrote:
> Justin B Rye wrote:
>> Beatrice Torracca wrote:
>>> @@ -387,7 +387,7 @@
>>>  multimedia applications and
>>>  dictionaries in Debian and has been introduced since some users might
>>>  want to access the raw data without installing the program or because
>>> -the program can be run without the data itself, making it optional.
>>> +the program can be run without the data itself, making them optional.
>> No; "data" is "it", not "them", at least for English-speakers born
>> after about 1950.  If you want to avoid the issue, you can say "making
>> the package optional".

In fact looking at it again I'm not sure I understood it correctly in
the first place.  What is it that's optional - the data, the package,
or the dictionaries etc.?

> Avoidance is probabably the best and cleanest option.
> I'd like to say I was born after 1950 and see "data" as singular, but I
> wasn't. :) I'm still inclined to say "the bacteria are...", "the die
> is..." and "the media are...". "datum" and "data" are not the same. What
> happened after 1950? Logic dissolved into thin air?

The language changed, as it already had for "agenda", "stamina", and
"erotica", largely because it turned out that people only ever needed
to talk about data in bulk rather than a set of individual items.  In
the case of "media", it's only in the sense meaning "entertainment
industry" that the word has come to be sometimes used as a singular -
nobody talks about "a removable media".
> Completelely irrelevant to the matter at hand but we now have "trade
> union" (a union of trade) instead of "trades union" (a union of trades).
> Recently I've seen "Charity Commission" in print. "Charities Commission"
> has a distinctly different meaning. How long before we get "Mother
> Union" instead of "Mothers' Union"?

Noun stacks like this are odd; we often file off the endings in
sequences like "the window manager section" (the section for managerS
of windowS), but there are odd exceptions like "an events managers
conference", and I've never been able to see why.

> Modern English has a problem with plurals. "Education, education,
> education" seems not to have addressed it.

Education has nothing to do with it; the way our ancestors spoke isn't
more correct simply because it's older.
JBR	with qualifications in linguistics, experience as a Debian
	sysadmin, and probably no clue about this particular package

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