Subject: Re: lib/21347: "Data" is the plural of "datum."
To: None <>
From: Aidan Kehoe <>
List: netbsd-bugs
Date: 04/29/2003 10:24:41
David Laight wrote; 

 > Aidan Kehoe wrote; 
 > > "Data" is the plural of "datum."
 > Actually, in most computer documentation it is used as a 'mass noun'.
 > As such 'data is returned' is correct [1].
 > Since English is a language defined by its usage, there is nothing
 > wrong (except the inconsistency).

If you read the report through, it's the inconsistency I'm trying to fix. I,
personally, prefer the "it's a plural" view, but I'm happy to write up a
patch to elimate the plural usage in favour of the singular. I don't think
that is in tune with the (pseudo-?)academic spirit of BSD, though.
 > The page has,
 > for instance, 'until there is no more data to be retrieved.'

And in "The Design and Implementation of 4.4BSD" it's consistently used as a
plural. (I will cite examples if you want, but I don't have the book to
hand, so it will take day or so.) I submit that that's more the direction we
should go in.

  > Compate to the use of other mass nouns like 'water'.

"Information" would be the more apposite comparison. 

"I have heard the swelling cry of the English speaking peoples of the
world, and it tells me their cause is served best by flaming the few
complacent asses on usenet." -- T. Samant, 29 June 1997