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September 28, 2010


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Lawrence Solum

Isn't this actually an appropriate linguistic development? "Snack" in the relevant sense is best understood as a mass noun and not a count noun. And there is a related sense count-noun sense of the term.

Bruce Boyden

It's an event, just like lunch, which is no longer just "lunches" or "a lunch."

Dan Filler

The development is an accurate reflection of the culture and in that sense, is utterly linguistically appropriate. But I dislike the cultural move as well as the lexical aesthetics. I told you I was pernickety!

Lawrence Solum

I don't think that Bruce is correct in the context of the initial example. "To bring snack" is not "to bring the event," it is "to bring stuff that constitutes a snack." That stuff is an undifferentiated mass and hence is appropriately the basis for a mass noun. Dan says that he is persnickety, but my view is that he is not persnickety enough. The change in linguistic practice is in line with "deep structure" of English grammer & the new usage is actually "more correct" than the old usage.

Miriam A. Cherry

Mmmm... snack....

Matt Lister

I must say that most snacks are not an undifferentiated mass, but rather things like cookies, chips, carrots, etc. That is, they are countable and should be count nouns. If your snacks are an undifferentiated mass, you've made them wrong! (Or you're having pudding, but even then, you divide it up into quite distinct, countable portions.)

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