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Headquarters, trousers, scissors, shears, spectacles, etc.  
von Catesse (AU), Last modified: 2012-09-20, 12:15  like dislike  Spam?  
I happened to notice a newly verified entry: "foundation headquarters = Stiftungssitz {m}". (Entry 1145480) As I seemed to remember that nouns such as "headquarters" were to be tagged as {pl}, I checked out the full listing for the word. It is in a shambles that would not inspire confidence in the reliability and professionalism of dict, I really feel that these should all be sorted out and unified. This really needs to be done retrospectively, with uniformity demanded for the future, although there may be a few cases that do not fit the pattern.
Headquarters can also be used as a singular  #674042
von Windfall (GB), 2012-09-20, 12:46  like dislike  Spam?  
Antwort: unterscheidet folgendermaßen:  #674051
von rabend (DE/FR), Last modified: 2012-09-20, 13:45  like dislike  Spam?  
Usage Note: The noun headquarters is used with either a singular or a plural verb. The plural is more common: The corporation's headquarters are in Boston. But when reference is to authority rather than to physical location, many people prefer the singular: Division headquarters has approved the new benefits package.
Why not ...  #674078
von BHM (DE), 2012-09-20, 16:47  like dislike  Spam?  
treat these words like we do names of plants and animals when they have a plural form? They are tagged {pl.} with the addition [treated as sg.]. Similarly, 'headquarters' etc. could be tagged {pl.} + [treated as both sg. and pl.] when necessary. When not, [treated as sg.] would be added.
There's no simple answer  #674090
von Badger (US), 2012-09-20, 19:24  like dislike  Spam?  
The fact that an EN noun ends in -s does not necessarily make it a plural, unless (a) there is a contrasting singular and/or (b) it is used with a plural verb, at least some of the times. Trousers, for example, fails on (a) but succeeds on (b).
My approach to English grammar is that you determine the number of a noun by the verb it appears with and/or the pronoun(s) used to replace it. (The pronoun test works for trousers, too.) You simply cannot tell the number of an EN noun by looking at it in isolation.
I agree with Catesse that entries of this type should be standardized  #674139
von tomaquinaten (US/DE), 2012-09-21, 10:36  like dislike  Spam?  
The present practice of marking such apparently plural nouns as "[pl]" and then adding "[treated as sing. or pl.]", I  fear is more confusing than helpful. The simplest solution would be to take a cue from Badger's contribution and use simply "[with singular or plural verb]".
    If one seeks a special solution for the present case, one might take a cue from the FreeDictionary's Usage Note  and use the formula "[pl. often sg, when used for an authority]". With the exception of the German terms involving "Ort" or "Sitz", all of the singular German terms translated as "headquarters" can be used either in the sense of physical location or in the sense of authority.
Collective nouns also  #674217
von Catesse (AU), Last modified: 2012-09-21, 15:34  like dislike  Spam?  
To mention an even more difficult case: collective nouns such as "crew". Of course, it is singular, and there is a perfectly good plural, "crews". But I recall one of my teachers in primary school making a token and fairly futile attempt to teach the use of "crew" with a plural verb, when it is considered that members of a crew are acting independently as individuals. (Similarly, collectives such as flock and herd.) I am not always sure of this myself, and it is not a matter for inclusion in dict. This is just to mention the converse of the grammatically plural nouns sometimes treated as a singular form.
"Basic English", with its lack of gramatical gender for nouns and its minor variations in verb forms and its invariable adjectives is relatively simple, but in cases such as these collective nouns it is a killer, because the logic, if there is any, is very complicated.
By the way: with nouns such as "scissors" and "trousers", it is not a case of "can be used with a singular or plural verb". I cannot imagine a normal native speaker saying "My trousers needs dry-cleaning."
You might hear some illiterate say, "Where's me [sic] trousers?", but this should not be endorsed.
von tomaquinaten (US/DE), Last modified: 2012-09-26, 10:08  like dislike  Spam?  
von tomaquinaten (US/DE), Last modified: 2012-09-26, 10:08  like dislike  Spam?  
A proposed standard solution: follow Oxford practice  #674711
von tomaquinaten (US/DE), 2012-09-26, 10:07  like dislike  Spam?  
Instead of marking collective terms like "headquarters" and "crew" as either singular or plural depending on the presence or absence of a final "s", Qxford uses the standard formula "[treated as singular or plural]" --- see and --- without further explanation of when the term is treated as a unity and when it is treated as a plurality. As Catesse has pointed out, the logic behind such distinctions "if there is any, is very complicated", too complicated indeed to be expressed in any brief bracketed explanation. I think, therefore, we should adopt this Oxford practice and change the existing entries to conform ot it. The number of such reopenings will not be very large, and the improved information will justify the effort.
      As to "scissors" and "trousers", Oxford marks them unequivocally as "plural"; see  and
Richtschur: OXFORD  #674719
von Wenz (DE), Last modified: 2012-09-26, 10:31  like dislike  Spam?  
Ich begrüße den Vorschlag von tomaquinaten.
Wir hatten diese Diskussion schon mind. 3x, .... (10x ... 1000x in den Comments z. B.)
Ich empfehle hier die "Erklärung" vom Oxford-Ding zu übernehmen und nicht vom Webster --- sonst kann es durcheinandergehen, da event. mißverständlich (z. B. bei mir, siehe unter Contribute   #631331).
Um Nägel mit Köpfen zu machen:
Siehe Comment: Wie SCHREIBEN wir den Klammerzusatz?
Guidelines  #674725
von Catesse (AU), 2012-09-26, 12:19  like dislike  Spam?  
If this is going to be the definitive decision, will Paul please, please, please enter it in the GL? Otherwise we shall be having this discussion again round about January and trying to find this thread as a reference for newcomers.
Okay, so what about  #674726
von Paul (AT), 2012-09-26, 12:43  like dislike  Spam?  
[treated as sing.]
[treated as sing. or pl.]
This solution appears to be short, understandable and well-founded.
von Windfall (GB), 2012-09-26, 13:23  like dislike  Spam?  
Perfect :)
Einverstanden mit Pauls Vorschlag, vielleicht mit kleiner Änderung.  #674766
von parker11 (DE), 2012-09-26, 17:48  like dislike  Spam?  
Wir benutzen für den Singular als tag die Abkürzung [sg.}. Warum also nicht auch hier:
[treated as sg.]
[treated as sg. or pl.]
Wenn nicht, solls mir auch recht sein.
Stimmt, ist eigentlich konsistenter!  #674771
von Paul (AT), 2012-09-26, 18:32  like dislike  Spam?  
Also dann folgendermaßen?
[treated as sg.]
[treated as sg. or pl.]
Any other opinions or suggestions?
I like it  #674776
von Badger (US), 2012-09-26, 19:17  like dislike  Spam?  
Simple, consistent, and effective.
Badger: Dein Wort in Gottes Ohr!  #674777
von Wenz (DE), 2012-09-26, 19:37  like dislike  Spam?  
Simple, consistent, and effective.
GL or More  #674797
von Catesse (AU), 2012-09-27, 03:17  like dislike  Spam?  
Would this be in the GL, or added to the choices attached to the "More" icon?
Vorschlag für ein GL 7  #674827
von tomaquinaten (US/DE), 2012-09-27, 10:30  like dislike  Spam?  
I agree with Catesse, that if we are to follow this standard, this should definitely be noted under GL 7. Here is my suggestion for an addition to that text (addition in bold face):

For nouns in languages without grammatical gender, such as English, Hungarian or Turkish, use {pl} and {sg} in the respective field to denote plural or singular if unusual or different from the grammatical number in the other language.
If both languages in the pair have no grammatical gender, use the tags when the grammatical number is not the same on both sides.
For collective nouns that can be used either as singular or plural depending on the point of view, do not use "sg." or "pl.", but rather "[treated as sg. or pl.]". If a noun which is plural in form is always treated as singular, do not use "[pl.]", but simply "[treated as sg.]".

I would welcome adding these tags to the "more" list, not only to make it easy to click them, but also to call them to the attention of entry authors.
Click-Tag ist von Vorteil. Gewährt Einheitlichkeit  #674849
von Wenz (DE), 2012-09-27, 12:39  like dislike  Spam?  
Gewährt Einheitlichkeit. Vermeidet Turbulenzen.
von Paul (AT), 2012-09-27, 13:48  like dislike  Spam?  
Click-Tag kann ich aus technischen Gründen derzeit nicht machen, ist zu lang. Aber ich habe das in die Guidelines eingetragen, basierend auf dem Vorschlag von tomaquinaten (danke!):

For collective nouns, such as headquarters, that can be used either as singular or plural depending on the point of view, add [treated as sg. or pl.]. If a noun which is plural in form is always treated as singular, such as cyrogenics, use [treated as sg.]. Adding {pl} or {sg} is not necessary in these cases.

Das Verbot von {pl} und {sg} habe ich aus dem Textvorschlag herausgenommen, weil beispielsweise [treated as sg pl zeigt, dass sehr viele der bestehenden Einträge dieser Regel widersprechen würden.
Danke Paul, auch und bes. für die Verbesserungen meines Vorschlags  #675133
von tomaquinaten (US/DE), Last modified: 2012-09-30, 10:19  like dislike  Spam?  

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