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Tea room discussion[edit]

Note: the below discussion was moved from the Wiktionary:Tea room.

divitises is a properly-formed but apparantly completely unattested plural. Should divitis have this plural form shown, or should it be labelled as singular only? Michael Z. 2008-07-02 00:38 z

divitis just got updated with the edit summary “-itis words are generally uncountable.”
That's wrong. There's the divitis where every table cell from 1997-era code is turned into a div, the divitis where every semantic element is replaced with a div and a class attribute (synonym for classitis), and probably other divitises.
There also appear to be bronchitises, laryngitises, and tendinitises. See also itis, pl. itises.
From whence comes this reflex to categorize every mass noun as uncountable? That seems to be incorrect more often than not. (I see that a mass noun is defined as uncountable, which looks demonstrably false to me, as are some of the cited examples).  Michael Z. 2008-07-02 03:17 z
The medical words that end in -itis form their plurals -itides. Sometimes, usually in popular publications, the plural is "-itises". For this neologism, I'd expect the plural to be "divitises" when it finally shows up. If you use {{infl|en|noun}}, you do not have to address it now. I think that {{en-noun}} has led less-expert contributors to put in a "-" when the plural has came out wrong after saving. Most of the easy errors get corrected by more expert editors. Some editors, when confronted with a word uncommon in the plural or with a less common type of plural don't change the "uncountable" indication. This extends far beyond mass nouns to various nouns that don't get used in plural forms except by those who do business in the field. Philosophers form plurals of most abstractions. Tuna fisherman and merchants will perhaps discuss "tunas". Most normal folks will not discuss either in the plural. DCDuring TALK 10:19, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
Please notice that the lead google books hit for bronchitises is from the humor magazine Punch. There are also only 60 hits total. These are cases where the plural is practically nonexistent, and the noun is in fact uncountable. If you disagree, please find a citation for "three bronchitises". The grammatical term "uncountable" does not mean that a plural is impossible; it means that the plural is exceedingly rare to nonexistent, and that the noun may not be used with a numeral. Hence: uncountable. --EncycloPetey 16:34, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
Humbug. The Punch is a fine attestation, as are about 40 others, including “all the bronchitises,” “a few more malarias and bronchitises,” “some of our obstinate chronic bronchitises”, “the sixth ward, in which the hernias, rheumatisms, bronchitises . . . were placed,” “a series of bronchitises,” “the bronchitises will start up,” “Nana had had one of her bronchitises,” “any more of these colds and bronchitises,” “many bronchitises,” “certain of the chronic bronchitises,” “many of the so-called ‘bronchitises’," “an asthma and two bronchitises.”
Bronchitis is not the same kind of noun as information—it has an uncountable mode, ‘the disease,’ and also a common sort of countable one, ‘an occurrence of, a case [patient] of, or a type of bronchitis,’ which pluralizes as bronchitises. It also has an indeterminate mode, as in “his bronchitis,” which cannot be called either (it is not “countable and uncountable,” which would be like calling a number “positive and negative”). For this reason, I would lump them all into a single definition line rather than splitting them into two.
Clearly, itises can take plurals, numbers, and the definite article. Divitis is new technical jargon, and we haven't been able to attest a plural, but it clearly follows the same form as bronchitis. You may be able to argue that we shouldn't show an unattested plural spelling, but how can you argue that it is uncountable?
I think our glossary and dictionary definitions of countable, uncountable, and mass noun need to be tightened up a bit to prevent nouns like these from being painted “uncountable” by default. The examples of money and soap are contradictory. The expressions “used freely,” “practically nonexistant,” and “exceedingly rare” make the definition unclear, and the statement that uncountable nouns have no plural form is just wrong.
And by the way please use the language specific template is unfair. {{en-noun}} cannot be used in all cases, for example, in plural entries, or when there needs to be no note on the inflection line at all. Michael Z. 2008-07-02 19:47 z
You have said "clearly, itises can take plurals, numbers, and the definite article", but have not provided a single example of one that has been used with a cardinal number. The sole, odd exception you have noted is "two bronchitises", where the word is used in its countable sense of "a case of bronchitis in a particular person". That definition does not appear in the entry for that word; the sole definition given is the uncountable one. The {{en-noun}} template is capable of handling both countable and uncountable when used correctly in cunjunction with {{countable}} and {{uncountable}} on the definition line.
But back to the thread of this topic, you still have failed to demonstrate that divitis is countable. In fact, other authors of the page have noted that they have found no use of a plural form attested at all. Since the word is uncountable, the template {{en-noun}} works just fine. --EncycloPetey 20:09, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
I have just updated bronchitis. As I said, the senses are not distinct, because a usage like “his bronchitis” cannot be placed into one or the other. Am I mistaken, or have you just switched from arguing that the noun bronchitis is uncountable, to arguing that the uncountable sense of bronchitis is uncountable? You asked me to cite “three bronchitises”, but I failed by only finding “two bronchitises?”
Divitis follows the same form and usage as other itises. The closest I can attest is “you can end up with a case of divitis,” and “another classic example of divitis kicks in when...” These are indeterminate (i.e. not demonstrably uncountable). Michael Z. 2008-07-02 20:42 z

I do not fully understand how our agreed-upon rules apply in the case of uncountability. It would seem that, if the plural form exists, then not every sense of the word can by uncountable, which would suggest that the inflection line should show the plural. I see no reason to assume that uncountability is the default. To the contrary, to learn from the practice of professional lexicographers, it seems most dictionaries simply present the plural or let the user assume that the plural forms by the usual rules, which are, after all, remarkably simple in English, especially since adding -s or -es works when one is in doubt, even if only as a less-preferred form. Following non-English plural rules is much more than one would expect of normal English speakers.
Just as has been suggested by someone in the case of Proper nouns, where any Proper noun can automatically be used as a common noun without our acknowledging it, so, in the case of many nouns with uncountable senses, I would suggest that it can be assumed that any noun with an uncountable sense always has the sense "type of" which is automatically countable. The cases to the contrary should be readily attestable or agreed to.
Whatever the specifics, we need to take this kind of thing out of the realm of controversy. How should plurals be presented in the lemma? Under what circumstances do they need to be separately attested? Do they need to be attested for each sense? By the same standard as applies for lemmas? Is what is appropriate or customary for "dead" languages appropriate for "living" languages. It's just a matter of trying to figure what would be best for the different classes of our current users, especially those who are most like the users whom he hope to benefit with a more successful Wiktionary. DCDuring TALK 20:45, 2 July 2008 (UTC)