Hubert Turner turner at BIO.UVA.NL
Mon Jun 24 09:53:14 CDT 1996

On 22 June, Una Smith wrote:
>The goal here appears to be to identify an herbaceous subset of X,
>not characterize X (whether or not accurately) as being herbaceous.
>Toward that end, I would use "herbaceous members of" for accuracy,
>though at some loss of elegance.
>        Una Smith                       una.smith at
>Department of Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT  06520-8104

If characterizing X is the issue, "Lamiaceae are herbaceous and strongly
square-stemmed" is the most accurate you can get. To me, "herbaceous
Lamiaceae are ..." already suggests that not all Lamiaceae are herbaceous.

On 21 June, Robin Panza wrote:

>I disagree.  "Lamiaceae" is equivalent to "England", not "English" and one
>would not say "Most England prefer...."  Besides, I believe it is incorrect to
>say "Most English prefer...", but should properly say "Most English people
>prefer...."  The word "English" is an adjective, and "Most English prefer..."
>is like saying "Most big prefer...."

According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary (7th ed., reprint 1988) English
is both an adjective _and_ a noun: " the ~, (pl.) people of England."

On 22 June, Robin Leech wrote:

> ... If the group acts as one unit, use a singular verb.  When members of the
>group act individually, thus creating more than one action, use a plural

H.W. Fowler (Modern English Usage, 2nd ed. revised by Sir E. Gowers,
reprint 1988) under the lemma 'Number [6]': "Such words as army, fleet,
Government, [...] may stand either for a single entity or for the
individuals who compose it and are called nouns of multitude. They are
treated as singular or plural at discretion ...". He generally agrees with
Leech's usage, but also states: "In general [...] there are seldom a right
and a wrong, and any attempt to elaborate rules would be waste labour."

Hubert Turner

ISP/ZMA, Dept. Entomology, Plantage Middenlaan 64,
1018 DH  Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Phone: +-31-20-5256245        Fax: +-31-20-5256528
E-mail: turner at

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