Re: backup archive format saved to disk
I've noticed the same kind of disputes in natural languages. For
example, English speakers usually perceive a clear semantic difference
between "many" and "much". Yet it's possible to give a purely syntactic
rule to distinguish them -- you use "many" when modifying a plural noun,
and "much" for a singular one.
This is not true. For example, I have said "I've eaten too much
beans". "I've eaten too many beans", though it isn't something
I've said, *could* be said, and would not mean quite the same
thing. Another place where this doesn't work is with "grits".
One never has "many" grits. One *could* speak of "many grits",
I suppose, but that would not mean the same thing as "much grits".
Another one is "oats". One does not have many oats. If one were
to ask "How many oats do you have?" it would mean "How many
varieties do you have?", and not "What quantity do you have?"
Asking "How much beans did you eat?" means "what quantity", perhaps
in servings, or ounces weight, or volumetric like cups, but "How many
beans did you eat?" means "How many different varieties of beans did you
eat?" (like in a seven bean salad) or "Give me an exact count of how
many beans you ate." (like 50).
The issue is whether the quantity is considered to be continuous, or to
be discrete. Usually, when one speaks of a quatity of discrete objects,
one uses a plural noun. Likewise, usually when one speaks of a quantity
of something considered to be continuous, one uses a singular noun.
But this is not always the case.
Another way to think of it is this: If one *counts* the amount, then
one uses "many", if one *measures* the amount, then one uses "much".
This is regardless of whether the noun used be plural or singular.
One does not actually *count* the number of beans he has eaten, so
one uses "much beans" and not "many beans". "Many beans" means one
needs to count something, like varieties, or make an actual count
of the number of beans eaten. Most native speakers would be somewhat
confused upon being asked "How many beans did you eat?" He wouldn't
know the exact count, and would wonder why anyone would want to know
it, anyway, so would wonder what was really being asked.
Peas also fall into this category. I don't know whether I could
find examples which are not related to food, but believe me, the
issue is if you ask "how many" then you want an actual count,
and anything not counted is not a "many", but rather a "much".
I consider myself a native speaker, since I started when I was about
three years old. (Spanish is the first language I spoke.)
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