Date: Sun, 19 Mar 1995 07:50:57 -0600

From: Salikoko Mufwene s-mufwene[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UCHICAGO.EDU

Subject: Re: Variable -s on Nouns

In message Sat, 18 Mar 1995 19:02:26 EST,

Michael Montgomery N270053[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] quotes:

"Gerald Riggs was the last to gain 100 yards on Philadelphia, and no

Cowboys runner had done it since Hershel Walker in 1986."

"His homerun total was the highest by a Dodgers rookie since Greg

Brock also hit 20 in 1983, . . ."

and expresses misgivings about the plural form in "Cowboys" and "Dodgers."

Don Lance agrees with him. May I ask whether both of you or anyone else

would be happier with "Cowboy runner" and "Dodger rookie." Several years

back (1983) I wrote a manuscript about proper names and dealt somewhat with

teams' names. Several speakers I interviewed felt uncomfortable with uses

such as "MJ is a Bull" (now again!) or "Herschel Walker is a Bulldog"

(then). Is the case brought up by Montgomery one of those one may not fully

please others one way or another?

Is the redundancy in the "Ozarks Mountains" the same phenomenon (though

undoubtedly related) as the above? Does the case of "Athletics Director"

bear some relation to that of "linguistics professor," or doesn't it?

Is the "s" in "Athletics" necessarily treated as a plural? I'll be

thinking more about these matters myself, but some feedback from the

native speaker crowd won't hurt.


Salikoko S. Mufwene

University of Chicago

Department of Linguistics

1010 East 59th Street

Chicago, IL 60637

312-702-8531; FAX 312-702-9861