Difference between revisions of "1429: Data"

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(Explanation: corrected italics error… for real this time!)
(Explanation: minor rewording here and there)
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==Explanation==
 
==Explanation==
  
"Kirk vs. Picard" is a debate that many ''{{w|Star Trek}}'' fans engage in- specifically which was a better captain of the {{w|Starship Enterprise|starship ''Enterprise''}} on the TV show. Captain {{w|James T. Kirk}} and {{w|Jean-Luc Picard}} each were captains of the ship (Kirk was captain of USS ''Enterprise'' (NCC-1701) and USS ''Enterprise''-A (NCC-1701-A) in {{w|Star Trek: The Original Series|The Original Series}}, while Picard was captain of USS ''Enterprise''-D (NCC-1701-D) in ''{{w|Star Trek: The Next Generation|The Next Generation}})'', but fans argue over who was the "best". Most third-place candidates are pretty distant and a more multi-faceted debate. Cueball seems to be looking at results of polling for this ''third'' most popular character.
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"Kirk vs. Picard" is a debate that many ''{{w|Star Trek}}'' fans engage in- specifically which was a better captain of the {{w|Starship Enterprise|starship ''Enterprise''}} on the TV show. Captain {{w|James T. Kirk}} and {{w|Jean-Luc Picard}} each were captains of the ship in different periods (Kirk was captain of USS ''Enterprise'' (NCC-1701) and USS ''Enterprise''-A (NCC-1701-A) in {{w|Star Trek: The Original Series|The Original Series}}, while Picard was captain of USS ''Enterprise''-D (NCC-1701-D) in ''{{w|Star Trek: The Next Generation|The Next Generation}})'', but fans argue over who was the "best". Most third-place candidates are pretty distant, resulting in a more multi-faceted debate. Cueball seems to be looking at results of polling for this ''third'' most popular character.
  
 
The humor in this comic stems from the fact that the Latin word "data" is a plural form of the word "datum". Due to very few uses for the singular form and general lack of knowledge of Latin among modern population, many people do not think about it and assume "data" to be singular. Under the overwhelming dominance of this misconception, referring to data as singular is becoming increasingly (but not universally) accepted as grammatically correct - the Wall Street Journal, for instance, recently announced that it is moving away from saying data 'are', while New York Times manual of style allows for both variants depending on usage scenario, and USA Today is consistently using "data" as a plural ("data are"). Naturally, the purists insist on the form that is correct from the Latin grammar point of view and see "data is" as an example of a subject-verb agreement error. This type of error is present in the beginning of the sentence that Cueball is citing ("According to this polling data", while grammatically correct variant would be "According to these polling data").
 
The humor in this comic stems from the fact that the Latin word "data" is a plural form of the word "datum". Due to very few uses for the singular form and general lack of knowledge of Latin among modern population, many people do not think about it and assume "data" to be singular. Under the overwhelming dominance of this misconception, referring to data as singular is becoming increasingly (but not universally) accepted as grammatically correct - the Wall Street Journal, for instance, recently announced that it is moving away from saying data 'are', while New York Times manual of style allows for both variants depending on usage scenario, and USA Today is consistently using "data" as a plural ("data are"). Naturally, the purists insist on the form that is correct from the Latin grammar point of view and see "data is" as an example of a subject-verb agreement error. This type of error is present in the beginning of the sentence that Cueball is citing ("According to this polling data", while grammatically correct variant would be "According to these polling data").

Revision as of 20:37, 3 October 2014

Data
If you want to have more fun at the expense of language pedants, try developing an hypercorrection habit.
Title text: If you want to have more fun at the expense of language pedants, try developing an hypercorrection habit.

Explanation

"Kirk vs. Picard" is a debate that many Star Trek fans engage in- specifically which was a better captain of the starship Enterprise on the TV show. Captain James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard each were captains of the ship in different periods (Kirk was captain of USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) and USS Enterprise-A (NCC-1701-A) in The Original Series, while Picard was captain of USS Enterprise-D (NCC-1701-D) in The Next Generation), but fans argue over who was the "best". Most third-place candidates are pretty distant, resulting in a more multi-faceted debate. Cueball seems to be looking at results of polling for this third most popular character.

The humor in this comic stems from the fact that the Latin word "data" is a plural form of the word "datum". Due to very few uses for the singular form and general lack of knowledge of Latin among modern population, many people do not think about it and assume "data" to be singular. Under the overwhelming dominance of this misconception, referring to data as singular is becoming increasingly (but not universally) accepted as grammatically correct - the Wall Street Journal, for instance, recently announced that it is moving away from saying data 'are', while New York Times manual of style allows for both variants depending on usage scenario, and USA Today is consistently using "data" as a plural ("data are"). Naturally, the purists insist on the form that is correct from the Latin grammar point of view and see "data is" as an example of a subject-verb agreement error. This type of error is present in the beginning of the sentence that Cueball is citing ("According to this polling data", while grammatically correct variant would be "According to these polling data").

The second error in the same sentence is due to the fact that Data is a character from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Since it is a character's name, when used to refer to the character, "Data" should be treated as singular.

By reversing the verb agreement in both cases, you are basically going out of your way to annoy any grammatically obsessed people.

A third grammatical error in the comic is the disagreement between the word "character" and "are" before the character name "Data". Consider for example the correct sentence "Matter is many atoms." vs. the incorrect sentence "Matter are many atoms."

The title text suggests the mocking of language pedants/amateur grammar Nazis by hyper-correcting your use of language. The example given is "an hypercorrection habit", following from 'an honour' (/ˈɒnəɹ/) and 'an hour' (/ˈaʊəɹ/) in English. These two are correct as they are French derived, and so the 'h' is silent and the words start with a vowel sound, thus leading to the use of 'an'. The word "hyper-correction" (/ˌhaɪ.pəɹ.kəˈɹɛk.ʃən/) starts with a standard consonant 'h' sound and so must be preceded with 'a', not 'an'. Contrast 'an umbrella' and 'a uniform'. This comic also complements 326: Effect an Effect, which discusses the trolling of amateur grammar Nazis.

This comic also appears to be an example of self-irony as the author himself has previously exhibited certain inclination to insist on grammatically strict mode of usage of words loaned from Latin. One such example is the fact that xkcd's online discussion forums are called fora (which is a correct plural nominative form of forum in Latin)

Transcript

[Cueball reading off a smart phone to someone off the panel]
Cueball: According to this polling data, after Kirk and Picard, the most popular Star Trek character are Data.
Off-panel character: Augh!
Annoy grammar pedants on all sides by making "data" singular except when referring to the android.


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Discussion

What should "off-screen" be called in the transcript? I just put that since I didn't know what else to say. Also, someone needs to a) explain the Kirk/Picard situation and b) explain the title text. Sorry for not doing it myself, but I'm editing on my phone so there are probably errors that people need to fix and other people know far more about it anyway. Athang (talk) 04:42, 3 October 2014 (UTC)

Based on looking through some other transcripts, it looks like the convention is "off-screen". Also, fixed some typos in your comment. Cheeselover724 (talk) 06:06, 3 October 2014 (UTC)

The comic refers tp "pedants on all sides", which implies there is some kind of debate/dispute about the issue in the grammatical world. If someone who is aware of this dispute were to explain the details of it and/or provide links to sites that discuss it, I think the explanation would be greatly improved. 108.162.219.180 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

There seems to be an ongoing dispute of whether to rigidly stick to the latin form (datum singular, data plural), or adjust to the way it is far more commonly used. There appears to be divided opinion amongst grammar pedants, hence the 'on all sides'. Data are or data is? - Guardian Newspaper, Is Data Is, or Is Data Ain’t, a Plural? - WSJ -- Pudder (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I always thought the noun data was non-quantifiable like "gasoline" which you'd need a unit to pluralize. "This piece of data suggests more than those gallons of gasoline"... 173.245.48.79 05:03, 3 October 2014 (UTC)BLuDgeons

I added some info on Kirk vs. Picard, but I'm not sure how useful or understandable it is. Sorry in advance. Cheeselover724 (talk) 06:01, 3 October 2014 (UTC)

As someone pretending (for purposes of this comment) to speak with a classic British Cockney, what's the matter with "an hypercorrection habit"? Brettpeirce (talk) 14:34, 3 October 2014 (UTC)

Agreed. The consonant 'h' sound is not always preceded by "a". Is it quite common for other words starting with consonant 'h' to be preceded by "an". One is example is "An historic occasion". MrBigDog2U (talk) 14:28, 3 October 2014 (UTC)
"Hotel" (yes, with the French connection) is the classic test, IME, for dropped or kept haiches (or 'aiches), with the middle-classes tending towards using "a hotel" whilst both the lower and upper classes gravitate towards "an 'otel" (for different reasons, with different empheses). Of course, if the person has an affectation (or "haffectation") "an hotel" (or, more like, "ane hotel") or even "han 'otel" can arise, to frankly ridiculous degrees. But this is just personal observation, and may not survive even inter-regional train travel, never mind transatlantic relocation... 141.101.98.247 16:11, 3 October 2014 (UTC)
An hero. Just sayin. Diszy (talk) 17:49, 5 October 2014 (UTC)

I always took "fora" to be tongue-in-cheek mockery of pedantry rather than a frank insistence on proper grammar Djbrasier (talk) 13:22, 4 October 2014 (UTC)

You were lucky that accusative and nominative in second declension neuter have matching endings, otherwise pedants would prey on "I always took fora" part of your comment :) Either way, please consider giving forīs a benefit of the doubt. Without forōrum and their memorable name, xkcd wouldn't be the same :) Nyq (talk) 14:12, 4 October 2014 (UTC)

Would it be worthwhile emphasizing that "hypercorrection" is a specialist term, employed by those studying language, grammar, and its development over time/history. Some might think that the term is merely descriptive, something along the lines of "hyper/taking-to-the-max tendencies to do stuff correctly". Rather, a definition would be something like "a non-standard usage that results from over application of a perceived grammatical rule" 108.162.250.218 08:12, 5 October 2014 (UTC)

Another thing to annoy grammar pedants is that it should always be "character is" or "characters are": consider a clearly plural character: "..., the most popular Star Trek characters are The Tribbles" versus "..., the most popular Star Trek character is The Tribbles" and cf the equivalent to the comic: "..., the most popular Star Trek character are The Tribbles". IMHO each of my quoted examples are more likely to be viewed correct than the next. Mark Hurd (talk) 01:07, 6 October 2014 (UTC)

Yet nobody complains about "everybody/everyone is" International Space Station (talk) 02:35, 1 February 2016 (UTC)

Compare "every person is" to "all people are." Every and all are both determiners, but they belong to different subclasses. Every enumerates over a group or class, as it is a distributive determiner like each, either, and neither. All indicates a quantity, as it is a quantifier like both, enough, and some. In "every person is X," every applies the statement to each element in the entire class to which person belongs (people); for each person in all people, the person is X. In "all people are X," all gives a size (the entire class) to the group or class that is the subject (people). 'Everybody' and 'everyone' evolved from "every body" and "every one," so the syntax used for the two-word form got applied to the pronouns. 108.162.237.137 12:57, 17 April 2016 (UTC)

Is it just me, or does "ypercorrection" not make any sense as a pronounciation? 172.68.46.41 05:59, 12 May 2018 (UTC)