From this week’s L’Osservatore (English edition):
Very good! …however I wish that the writer knew that there should be agreement between subject & verb in English, namely ‘clients are’ or ‘client is’ not some melange of the two.
On the other hand, the client in this case is the Catholic Church, a collective entity, and in British English (correct me if I’m wrong), it’s perfectly proper to say “the Church are seeking” just as one would say “the committee have decided” or “the government have taken action”.
It’s in American English that such collective nouns are considered singular (“the Church is seeking”, “the committee has decided”, etc).
I think we’re a little more flexible (or careless). My Longman Guide to English Usage of 1988 states that it’s up to the individual writer.
We’re actually very confused; here’s a sentence from tomorrow’s Guardian’s front page, referring to the Pryce case:
‘Less than two hours later, the jury said it was “highly unlikely” that they would reach a verdict and were immediately discharged.’
Well, ‘highly unlikely that _it_ would reach a verdict’ sounds really weird. I think ‘the jury’ is understood to refer to the members of the jury, taken collectively.
But doesn’t it only sound weird when you stop to think about it? (Although I must admit that the less/fewer error always jumps out at me.)
Later in the article, the prosecutor Andrew Edis is quoted: ‘Overall the picture is not reassuring as to the extent to which this jury has truly understood its task at this now very advanced stage of their deliberations.’
In one sentence, the jury is referred to as a single entity and a collection of individuals.
Perhaps, as with less/fewer, it’s a usage in transition.
Well, the whole awkwardness or ambiguity arises from the fact that, as you mentioned, the jury is at one and the same time a single entity and a collection of individuals. I think the aptness of the singular or plural form depends mostly on which aspect is being considered – the jury’s task (to deliver a verdict) invites the singular, whereas their deliberations (which involves discussion between the members) invites the plural.
I don’t think it’s a matter of usage, so much as an inherent duality in the situation.
Now that you pointed it out, it was bugging me too, so I’ve fixed it and reposted it on the original site.
Well, it is an interntional client, after all. (Glad to know there are other pendants out there who can’t stop themselves from reflexively spell- and grammar-checking a joke. And, yes, I realize that this comment will inevitably be riddled with errors.)
Err – pedants
:) yes! Pedants-R-Us!
Perhaps you don’t listen to the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe . . .
I, for one, was hanging on your every word.
No, I like ‘pendant’. It has a ring about it.
The HR department has an infernal applicant screening process.
Hi, Jerry — The image is actually a spoof created by Crispian Jago:
I apologise to him for my tedious pedantry above.
No problem. I approve of pedantry
I knew it! You’re a pedantophile!
Something for an Irish bishop?
Jerry, please delete previous post and this one, which shows correct link:
…just wanted to let you know about it!
Perhaps I should have been more specific:
February 20th, 2013
Today’s script is thanks to Walter Kaufmann (1921-1980). The quote, which is heavily edited in the barmaid’s speech, was spotted and posted by Jerry Coyne at Why Evolution is True. Thanks!
Important qualifications to be discussed at interview time:
Willingness to saddle-up with ruthless dictators.
Ability to turn a blind eye to the most immense human suffering highly desirable.
Unfamiliarity with the concept of genocide most desirable.
Expertise in stake making and iron rack construction methods is a plus.
Ability and willingness to cruelly suppress and persecute lovers of wisdom.
Must demonstrate expertise with tongue gouging, disembowelment and fire setting techniques.
Ability to rapidly identify witches and heretics a major plus.
Slow, mesmerizing, hand waving style very important.
A more thorough list of qualifications can be found HERE —> http://www.ftarchives.net/foote/crimes/contents.htm#contents.
You need to add, you get to appoint ambassadors to sovereigns and fully paid vacation to make this offer more attractive
Yes, it’s actually a double appointment:
Spiritual leader / Head of “state”
and isn’t it
€ = “0”, but fabulous benefits.
Final Absolute Requirement: Agrees to appear to world outta puff of white smoke.
That made my day!
With respect to the Brit version of the Mother
Tongue, thou art correct.
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