The Corner

You Say Dah-Duh, I Say Day-Ta

The English word “data” takes the singular form of a verb.  Almost anyone familiar with the stuff, speaking in a natural flow, uses it like this.  It takes an act of self-consciousness to use the plural verb form (or some $29.95 piece of grammar checker software written by a 14-yr-old Taiwanese computer geek).

Here’s a sample from the Heart of Dixie, where they know how to speak English : 

“Gore’s point that 200 cities and towns in the American West set all time high temperature records is also misleading according to Dr. Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. ‘It is not unusual for some locations, out of the thousands of cities and towns in the U.S., to set all-time records,’ he says. ‘The actual data shows that overall, recent temperatures in the U.S. were not unusual.’”

[Derb]  That’s what the data shows, when the data is examined carefully.  And that’s how you NATURALLY, INSTINCTIVELY say it when you are not self-consciously watching your tongue, or writing under the watchful eye of some cheapo software.  The rice is cooked; the grass is green; the sand is warm; and the data is good.

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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