Date: Fri, 3 Mar 1995 11:12:39 -0500
From: "Cathy C. Bodin" cbodin[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]MSMARY.EDU
Subject: Re: the Ozarks and other plurals
The etymology that Donald Lance provided for "the Ozarks" is fascinating
and raises the example of British plurals, such as "trades unions" vs.
"trade unions" [Amer. usage].
On a related head, could I ask for comment on these British
plurals? How does "their" figuration of collectives differ from ours?
They say that the United States "are" doing such-and-such in the news
and that British Oil "have" announced such-and-such. Does anyone know
if a Trades Union X or a Trade Union X "has" or "have" been considered
as a plural traditionally in Britain? --Cathy Bodin
On Tue, 28 Feb 1995, Donald M. Lance wrote:
The issue of "Ozarks" is more complex than Peter McGraw's response implies.
As well as we can determine, the word came from French explorers in
the late 1600s who wrote "aux arcs" on maps to indicate where the Arcansa
Indians lived and hunted. Liaison in French phonology would yield a
pronunciation of this abbreviation that would sound very much like "Ozarks,"*
which was the early English spelling. So "Ozark" is more like a folk
back-formation used in attributive positions where the "plural" ending
is not common in American English -- i.e., Ozark Mountains. All the toponyms
on official maps have "Ozark" in attributive position, as do business names
in the area. However, in recent decades, the -s form has come into use in
attributive position (Ozarks Conservation District, etc.). (*The final -s
in French is a further complication in the story.) Further, McGraw's
question about "Applachains Mountains" etc. points out that the anti-Ozark
copy-editors aren't so smart after all, though they may be following a local
trend. Every now and then I try to steer my mind toward this question but
haven't done systematic study. In British nomenclature we get "trades unions"
but "trade unions" in American English. I think the attributive -s form in
similar compounds is on the rise in American English, and the anti-Ozark
editors may be reflecting that trend. It's this latter trend that I haven't
done anything systematic on. How widespread/sporadic is the trend?