Adversarial uncertainty (2 of 3)

August 16, 2012

There have been two letters from Jennifer Jenkins (26 July and 9 August) in which she has accused Michael Hollas of imagining there is some "golden age" of correct English.

In his letter ("Singularly annoying", 19 July), Hollas neither said nor implied any such thing. He was simply expressing his irritation at people who lazily write "phenomena" and, in his field particularly, "spectra" as singular forms.

Of course, there are no rules in language and so, in principle, anything goes, but you would have to be linguistically semi-conscious not to know that currently the recommended singular in standard English is "phenomenon". So, if you want to write "phenomena" as a singular, go ahead, but you'd better have a damn good reason to. "Couldn't be bothered" is hardly laudable.

Michael Bulley, Chalon-sur-Saône, France

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride