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data

September 12, 2009

data: (noun) “Data is a plural of datum, which is originally a Latin noun meaning “something given.” Today, data is used in English both as a plural noun meaning “facts or pieces of information” (These data are described more fully elsewhere) and as a singular mass noun meaning “information”: Not much data is available on flood control in Brazil. It is almost always treated as a plural in scientific and academic writing. In other types of writing it is either singular or plural. The singular datum meaning “a piece of information” is now rare in all types of writing. In surveying and civil engineering, where datum has specialized senses, the plural form is datums.”

An addition to the list of things I hate? When professors insist on the plural usage of “data”, which incredibly manages to look, sound and be stupid, elitist and academically frustrating all at once.

Sentence 1: The data say that Business X is less profitable than Business Y.

Sentence 2: The data says that Sentence 1 is fucking lame.

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