Free-Floating Hostility

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Anna Gets Schooled

Isaac was classy enough to point out by email rather than in public my mistake about his use of "less politics." In the 12 years I've known him, Isaac has never once been wrong, and this time was no exception. He defended his choice thus: " 'Politics' is construed as a singular collective", like "physics" and most words [ending] in "-ics." That may be because they derive from neuter plurals [ending] in -ika, which take a singular verb." I looked this up, of course (because I have never been wrong either in the course of my acquaintance with Isaac) and it turns out that either way is correct. When "politics" is used in the sense of the business of rulers it always takes a singular. Most other uses of the word, including political positions or attitudes (which is how Isaac presumably meant it) can take either a singular or a plural verb. So while I will contine to use "fewer politics" I will no longer cast aspersions on "less politics."

I feel that any correction, retraction or apology ought to run where the error ran, so I am posting it. In fact, perhaps I'll make a regular feature out of what I've learned from my own errors in language--I'll be William Safire's abject alter-ego.

2 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at February 20, 2005 11:04 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I've picked up a sensitive ear for incorrect phrases of the form "there's [plural noun]" due to my girlfriend correcting me constantly until I learned. Sometimes it makes me feel superior but I mostly wish I didn't notice, because people screw it up constantly.


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  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at February 20, 2005 11:06 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • oh...
    didn't see B.D.'s comment on the previous article.

    well, I laughed.


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