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That's What They Say
Sun August 31, 2014
Puzzling over plurals: Is it vinyl or vinyls?
It appears vinyl records are causing some folks a bit of grammatical angst.
University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan says one of those people experiencing discomfort about the plural of the word "vinyl" is Michigan Radio's Mike Perini, who happens to be an avid music collector.
Curzan says she was surprised to find quite a debate about the word. It's been in newspapers and blogs.
"There are even t-shirts and magnets that say the plural of vinyl is vinyl," she says.
"Vinyl is a mass noun, because it's a material. But once it starts to refer to a record, can you actually count it and have vinyls?"
Curzan says some who say the plural is vinyl point out that it works like the word "deer" or "sheep."
Other mass nouns? Beer and water, as in "I'll have two beers and three waters."
Here's a challenge for you: Can you think of a mass noun that can't be made countable?