English grammar in US

Joseph E. Laferriere josephl at CCIT.ARIZONA.EDU
Mon Jun 24 08:02:33 CDT 1996

> From:    "Finn N. Rasmussen" <FINNR at BOT.KU.DK>

> I have heard English-speaking botanists saying "I
> think this is a Lamiaceae", but this usage feels like being
> grammaticaly incorrect.

Are these Americans or Brits you are talking about? Here in the US,
English grammar is no longer taught in school. Therefore, most Americans
pay little attention to proper use of singular and plural antecedents. If
you listen to the television in this country, you will constantly hear
statements like "The team won their game," or "Every single person has
their own opinion." My favorite was a police officer interviewed on
television saying, "If the speed limit is over 55, the severity of
accidents are higher."
   You are correct. Family names according to the ICBN are explicitly
plural. Saying "This is a Lamiaceae" is equivalent to saying "Trigger is
a horses." However, most Americans will not understand the distinction
even when you explain it to them.
   I hasten to point out that I am American myself, and hence can
criticize my own country.

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