[Taxacom] singulare tant(r)um [off of: Species names]

Spies, Martin spies at zi.biologie.uni-muenchen.de
Mon Feb 18 12:44:47 CST 2008

Richard Jensen wrote:

>... family names, when used as collectives, take a singular verb ...

>If the form of the noun in its original language were used to 
>decide the appropriate verb, then I would have to say that "Los Angeles 
>are a city on the west coast."
As further support for Dick's argument, consider examples like: 'The 
United States is one of the world's largest countries by total area.'
Wording such as 'X-ae results as the sister taxon to Z-ae in the tree, 
with monophyly of either clade supported convincingly' is perfectly 
appropriate, as single units are concerned rather than the respective 
multitudes of their constituents.

If you're looking for an awkward combination of plural and singular 
that's widespread, how about 'data is ...'? As such 'data' (hopefully) 
never consist of a single datum, why not question the justification for 
this usage instead? Who ruled when and on what grounds that 'data' can 
be combined with singular verb forms only?


Martin Spies
c/o Zoologische Staatssammlung Muenchen

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