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  1. #1
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    Steven Pinker, who probably knows more about language than the rest of us put together, writes on page 40 of "The Language Instinct"(*):
    "My bank are awful", by the way, is grammatical in British, though not in American, English".
    And he's talking about bank-where-you-save-money banks here, not river-banks or racing-car tracks.

    Before I pester Pinker directly, can any of our erudite UK posters enlighten me?
    Why would a 3rd person plural be acceptable for a singular object?

    (*) ("Perrenial Classics" paperback edition 2000)

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    [quote name='chrisgreaves' post='795867' date='01-Oct-2009 17:28']Why would a 3rd person plural be acceptable for a singular object?[/quote]Perhaps its not a singular object ... i.e. The bank being not only the business, but all of the people working there - meaning the people that work at my bank are awful.

    You could also goggle it.

  3. #3
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    In the UK, singular nouns indicating a collective can be treated as plural:

    "The police are investigating the crime"

    "The government are aware of the concerns"

    "Germany have won the match"

    Also see Collective noun - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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    Super Moderator BATcher's Avatar
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    [quote name='chrisgreaves' post='795867' date='01-Oct-2009 17:28']Steven Pinker, who probably knows more about language than the rest of us put together, writes on page 40 of "The Language Instinct"(*):
    "My bank are awful", by the way, is grammatical in British, though not in American, English".[/quote]
    Balderdash! The correct British usage would be: ""My bank is awful".
    And what qualifies Steven Pinker, a mere "a Canadian-American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, and author of popular science", to pronounce on English usage in its country of origin?
    BATcher

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    [quote name='BATcher' post='795922' date='01-Oct-2009 19:52']Balderdash! The correct British usage would be: ""My bank is awful".
    And what qualifies Steven Pinker, a mere "a Canadian-American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, and author of popular science", to pronounce on English usage in its country of origin?[/quote]You could also goggle it. (see above)

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    Super Moderator BATcher's Avatar
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    [quote name='chrisgreaves' post='795867' date='01-Oct-2009 17:28'][/quote]
    Let's try a more reasoned approach.

    Mr Pinker has chosen a rather bad example.

    A bank tends to be an almost entirely faceless entity, and few of us could even name the chief executive thereof.
    Hence it is primarily regarded as a collective noun, thus "The bank is awful".
    If we move closer to home, we would say, "The [staff at my local] bank [branch] are awful", because we know them, maybe even by name.

    As Hans indicates, with something like "the government", the sentence could be "The government are awful" (prime minister, individual ministers, etc) or "The government is awful" (a collective of faceless bureaucrats). These tend to be used interchangeably, depending on the sense and on people's general usage.

    Similarly "Microsoft" could be regarded as a collective noun "the company", or a collection of marketing people, programmers, techies, and so on, so "Microsoft are awful" or "Microsoft is awful" are both grammatical, if prejudiced!

    {My bank is really rather good, by the way!)
    BATcher

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    [quote name='BATcher' post='795989' date='02-Oct-2009 03:07']... These tend to be used interchangeably, depending on the sense ...[/quote]
    I have an example that, for me, occurs mostly in the world of sports. Since most American sports teams have a plural "nickname" I find myself referring to them both ways:
    "The Denver Broncos are playing well so far this season."

    "Denver has added a number of good players this year."
    What I would never say is: "Denver are going to win this weekend" which is the way I think British folks would say it. But, if I use the nickname instead of the city (franchise) name, I would say: "The Broncos are going to win."

    Crazy I guess, but I'm used to it.

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    [quote name='Bigaldoc' post='796011' date='02-Oct-2009 11:45']What I would never say is: "Denver are going to win this weekend" which is the way I think British folks would say it.[/quote]
    the "British folks" are not that consistent. If Denver is the name of a team then I would say "Denver is going to win".

    But I agree with BATcher on almost every detail, especially "And what qualifies Steven Pinker, a mere "a Canadian-American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, and author of popular science", to pronounce on English usage in its country of origin?"

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    [quote name='StuartR' post='796035' date='02-Oct-2009 11:04']the "British folks" are not that consistent. If Denver is the name of a team then I would say "Denver is going to win".[/quote]
    Really? What a surprise! The examples I was thinking about ARE in the sports world, where I've seen it written that "...Manchester United ARE going to..." or something like that.

    Learn something every day...

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    [quote name='BATcher' post='795922' date='01-Oct-2009 20:52']Balderdash! The correct British usage would be: ""My bank is awful".[/quote]
    The correct Dundonian would be

    "Meh bank's awfy an a"
    John (Unreconstructed Jacobite)

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    [quote name='Bigaldoc' post='796011' date='02-Oct-2009 21:45'][/indent]What I would never say is: "Denver are going to win this weekend" which is the way I think British folks would say it. But, if I use the nickname instead of the city (franchise) name, I would say: "The Broncos are going to win."[/quote]But both ways are incorrect.

    They're going to lose (Or it is going to lose?)

    I know that French sports fans don't like Toulouse.
    Subway Belconnen- home of the Signboard to make you smile. Get (almost) daily updates- follow SubwayBelconnen on Twitter.

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    [quote name='gwhitfield' post='796342' date='05-Oct-2009 07:21']I know that French sports fans don't like Toulouse.[/quote]
    Correct - it's far too far to travel...

    <span title="Spoiler: Highlight to reveal" style='color:#000000;background:#000000;padding:0p x 0.2em;'>[color=#666;margin-right: 0.2em]SPOILER:[/color]Toulouse Le Trek...!</span>
    BATcher

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