or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Data Re-Entry

In this extract from a Slate.com article on gaming the SAT, I was heartened to read the first sentence, and then cruelly let down by the second.

These data aren't readily available from the College Board, which publishes only statewide figures on the numbers of "accommodated" SAT takers. But Abrams noticed that in the District of Columbia—the only city whose data is separately released by the board, since D.C. is a separate jurisdiction—7 to 9 percent of all SAT-takers typically get extra time on the test.

As we no doubt know, I prefer "data" as a plural noun, but have resigned myself to the fact that it's becoming singular. Fine; the language changes. That's its nature.

But the writer for this article used "data" as a plural noun in the first sentence, and then used it as a singular noun in the second (and then used it again as a plural noun a couple of paragraphs later--"But the D.C. data suggest that ETS has a way to go"). You can't have it both ways. If you're going to use the word in exactly the same context in two consecutive sentences, then you have to pick which way you're going to use it and stick with that.


Blogger Bright Beak said...

Ahhh... methinks maybe the author has incorrectly assumed the word is both singular and plural in its form - as in moose, deer, fish, etc. Either that or the author is expressing an annoying example of situatioinal appropriateness ;)


Wednesday, May 17, 2006 9:02:00 PM  

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