Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Is using "data" as a plural noun hypercorrection? Isn't the etymology from a Latin plural ("[things] that are given")? -- Paul G 16:57, 30 May 2004 (UTC)

Yes, absolutely! The singular is datum; data is a neuter plural.

RSvK 17:06, 30 May 2004 (UTC)

That's the origin and prescriptivist point of view. Shall we change all modern usages based on their etymologies or just this one? I have never met a non-pedant, non-geek use the term as an unambiguous plural or use the term "datum".
Note that in most cases, using the term as a plural and using it as uncountable are not distinguishable: "The data" is 100% ambiguous this way.
Unambiguous uses would be "datas", "datum", "some data" (except in the sense of "a specific yet unknown datum"), "a data", "two data", "several data".
Other ambiguous uses are "more data", "most data".
In geek/pedantic circles this is used more than "virii" but is more commonly accepted by people onto whom it is pushed.
Yet still the vast majority of people use it in the uncountable sense. — Hippietrail 02:20, 31 May 2004 (UTC)
Oh another way to check whether a usage is uncountable or plural is to check the verb when "data" is the subject. Plural: "data are", "data have", "data show", "data prove", "data do" vs "data is", "data has", "data shows", "data proves", "data does" - of course the more scientific words tend to bring up more scientists' writing on Google. And they have more tendency toward the pedantic use. Can anyone think of a common verb used with data that would have a non-scientific domain? — Hippietrail 02:40, 31 May 2004 (UTC)
A choice might directly pit countable vs uncountable uses of data against each other is a common adjective that inflects for number, such as this data uncountable versus these data plural. (This data wins in Google.) It might be productive to check use over time: maybe "this data" is gaining or losing ground to these data in modern use, but all the (relatively) old documents are still around to muddy usage?
"this data" "these data" ratio
5/1981–5/1985 140 39 3.5 ∶ 1
5/1985–5/1990 1,520 383 3.96 ∶ 1
5/1990–5/1995 12,600 8,860 1.42 ∶ 1
5/1995–5/2000 29,500 21,700 1.35 ∶ 1
5/2000–5/2001 44,900 8,500 5.28 ∶ 1
5/2001–5/2002 98,600 8,620 11.43 ∶ 1
5/2002–5/2003 340,000 8,270 41.11 ∶ 1
5/2003–5/2004 46,800 11,300 4.14 ∶ 1
Search on this data vs these data using searches restricted by year on Google groups. This data is pure corpus fetishism and hasn't been checked for anomalies (why are the 2003–2004 numbers so low?), the accuracy of google's rounding, or irrelevancies such as "this/these data banks" etc., but is kind of telling.
It's not particularly unusual for a word to change from countable to uncountable as it is borrowed across languages: virus in Latin was a word meaning "slime" and uncountable, but in English used for specific objects and thus countable; similarly, as datum changed meaning from "gift" to "information", the pressure may have pushed data into a collective form (just as we generally say this information and not these informations—foreign speakers don't always catch this). —Muke Tever 04:12, 31 May 2004 (UTC)
I often use "data" with a plural verb in informal (but software-development-related) email and discussions ("The performance data back me up on this optimization"). However, I almost always use it with singular/uncountable adjectives ("The load is lower because there's less data to process")--and therefore with a singular verb, if the adjective-modified word appears as a subject ("That data needs to be handled"). "Fewer data" or "those data" sounds stilted in almost any context; if I really meant it to be countable, I'd probably say "Fewer pieces of data" or "those data points."
Of course that all may just be my idiosyncrasy; at least some people find any plural use stilted, and I'm sure people who rant about how the internet is ruining the language find any singular use nauseating, but I still think it points to the fact that "data" is still in the process of migrating to uncountable (or at least was a decade or two ago when my idiolect started freezing). -- 21:45, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

data daytah not datta battle rattle[edit]

(moved from (Wiktionary:Requests for deletion/Others Rod (A. Smith) 19:53, 28 June 2007 (UTC))

long a no double t in data ..... battle rattle datta get it? please remove the "short a" pronuciation as its not proper english. it must have 2 t's to be short. —This unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 2007-06-28T19:43:59.

Not so. Note the short a in atom, baton, and catacomb. Rod (A. Smith) 19:56, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
Is someone even allowed to rant about proper English when they spell "it's" as "its," don't understand capitalization, use five dots instead of three in an ellipsis, can't form a complete sentence...? I also love that the only examples he came up with actually have three consonants, not just two; apparently words like batter are too obscure. I'm also curious how he pronounces "cat" given his rule. -- 21:45, 29 July 2007 (UTC)
Is someone allowed to rant about someone else ranting about proper English when he uses "they" to refer to a single person?
Yes, they’re allowed. —Stephen 18:19, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
Heh, nice one. Is this (complaining about they) an American thing? Everyone uses "they" to refer to a single person in England. 15:17, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
No, there are pedants everywhere. Everyone uses "they" to refer to a single person in the U.S., too. —Stephen (Talk) 23:12, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, lots of people in the U.S. use "they" to refer to a single person with unspecified gender, and websites like Facebook work to encourage this usage ("It's Michelle's birthday! Write on their wall to celebrate", and the like). That doesn't mean it doesn't sound lazy or careless (Facebook can't tell if "Michelle" is a man or a woman 'cuz nobody told it and its dummer than me) and as something to be avoided whenever possible! KDS4444 (talk) 23:50, 3 June 2015 (UTC)

Wiktionary:Requests for deletion/Others - kept[edit]

Kept. See archived discussion of June 2007. 21:02, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

RFV discussion: October 2016–May 2017[edit]

See Talk:reithine#RFV discussion: October 2016–May 2017.