Date: Fri, 24 Oct 1997 12:11:27 -0500

From: Thomas Creswell creswell[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]CROWN.NET

Subject: Re: sea change

Julia Cochran wrote:

Re: the singular used for the plural, we also have the opposite:

"a strange phenomena," "the single criteria."

These are examples of a strong tendency to use these erstwhile Greek

plurals in English as singulars. Although some regard such uses as

errors and although they obviously stem from ignorance of their

plurality in the source language, they simply represent a powerful

tendency to thoroughly nativize such adoptions.

Even more common, as attested by a usage note in MW10, is the use of

_bacteria_ as a singular noun. I heard it used twice by Ray Jenkins,

the NBC news anchor the other evening, and I have an extensive file of

printed uses as a singular of all three of these erstwhile plurals in

reputable publications.

Similar singular uses of _agenda_ and _data_ are so frequent that they

are now standard. _Agenda_ has even developed an English plural--