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Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1
Posted: Tuesday, July 04, 2017 1:11:42 PM

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Location: Dzerzhinskiy, Moskovskaya, Russia
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/hunks

Quote:
hunks (hŭngks)
pl.n. (used with a sing. verb)
A disagreeable and often miserly person.

How am I supposed to understand a noun being plural and used with a singular verb at the same time? To me if it quacks like a duck then it is a duck - if it is used with a singular verb then it is singular (probably having the same form when plural).

Here's an example:

Moby Dick, by Herman Melville

Quote:
What of it, if some old hunks of a sea captain orders me to get a broom and sweep down the decks?


აბა ყვავებს ვინ დაიჭერს, კარგო? გალიაში ბულბულები ზიან.
thar
Posted: Tuesday, July 04, 2017 4:09:20 PM

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It was local New England nineteenth century slang, apparently from a political term 'Hunker'. It looks like it just got shortened to hunks, plural hunkses.

Some slang just ends up with odd words, like a sparks.

The framing 'some old___' is a way of describing a person, so it is that which is the singular signal.
(Eg some old fart orders me to do it).

There is a reason few people actually get through Melville!

Also probably the reason it didn't catch on elsewhere. Nowadays 'hunks' is the plural of 'a hunk' and means something entirely different!

I wouldn't worry about this one. Unless you obsess on nineteenth century New England literature, I doubt you will ever meet it again.

(Unless an American reader wishes to correct me).
Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1
Posted: Tuesday, July 04, 2017 4:22:35 PM

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Joined: 10/13/2015
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Location: Dzerzhinskiy, Moskovskaya, Russia
thar wrote:
The framing 'some old___' is a way of describing a person, so it is that which is the singular signal.

You have evaded the question. How can a plural noun be used with a singular verb?

Here's what I mean:

Quote:
twee‧zers /ˈtwiːzəz $ -ərz/ noun [plural]
a small tool that has two narrow pieces of metal joined at one end, used to pull or move very small objects

• About the only way to eliminate Argulus is to remove the sea horses and pick off the parasites with a tweezers.

To me either tweezers is singular in this example or it is not used correctly.

thar wrote:
There is a reason few people actually get through Melville!

This escapes my comprehension. What do you mean?


აბა ყვავებს ვინ დაიჭერს, კარგო? გალიაში ბულბულები ზიან.
thar
Posted: Tuesday, July 04, 2017 4:48:17 PM

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Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 15,290
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It is a hunker, a hunks. Lots of singular nouns end in -s. Few end in -nks, but this is slang. Adding an -s is common when shortening a word. It is just a sound.

As far as I can see from my sources, hunks is a singular noun, not a plural one. The plural would be hunkses. Or maybe elsewhere it is 'hunks' as well. This is slang, nobody was teaching it to anyone, or putting it in dictionaries at the time. It just spread.

I would dispute the dictionary calling it a plural noun, but if they want to...
The fact is, to him it was singular - he is describing one man.

Quote:
hunks (plural hunkses)

(slang, dated) A crotchety or surly person; also, a stingy man, a miser.
1851, Herman Melville, Moby-Dick:
Now, Bildad, I am sorry to say, had the reputation of being an incorrigible old hunks, and in his sea-going days, a bitter, hard task-master.


It just is what it is.

I think the common opinion is that Melville is hard-going for modern readers, although not necessarily because of the language.
Mostly because he goes on and on....But using regional slang that probably died out a hundred years ago probably doesn't help! Whistle
Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1
Posted: Tuesday, July 04, 2017 5:03:54 PM

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Location: Dzerzhinskiy, Moskovskaya, Russia
thar wrote:
Quote:
hunks (plural hunkses)

(slang, dated) A crotchety or surly person; also, a stingy man, a miser.
1851, Herman Melville, Moby-Dick:
Now, Bildad, I am sorry to say, had the reputation of being an incorrigible old hunks, and in his sea-going days, a bitter, hard task-master.

I could find that this is Wiktionary. Looks Like they are better than The American Heritage. At least at this.

thar wrote:
I think the common opinion is that Melville is hard-going for modern readers, although not necessarily because of the language.
Mostly because he goes on and on....But using regional slang that probably died out a hundred years ago probably doesn't help! Whistle

Dunno. I managed to get through and to me his is the most beautiful English I have ever read.

აბა ყვავებს ვინ დაიჭერს, კარგო? გალიაში ბულბულები ზიან.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, July 05, 2017 2:34:24 AM

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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
"Hunks" is singular - it has to be if it uses a singular verb and has a plural form.

"Tweezers" is a plural noun, which has no singular. Occasionally it uses a plural verb, but most commonly "a pair of tweezers" is used with a singular verb.

"Tweezers are used for picking up small things."
"A pair of tweezers is used . . ."
"Use a pair of tweezers to pick off all the hairs."

"A tweezers" is impossible.
The given example - About the only way to eliminate Argulus is to remove the sea horses and pick off the parasites with a tweezers - is wrong.

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1
Posted: Wednesday, July 05, 2017 3:04:30 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/13/2015
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Location: Dzerzhinskiy, Moskovskaya, Russia
Drag0nspeaker wrote:
"Hunks" is singular - it has to be if it uses a singular verb and has a plural form.

So it's the second time I see a discrepancy in the American Heritage. :(

Quote:
The given example - About the only way to eliminate Argulus is to remove the sea horses and pick off the parasites with a tweezers - is wrong.

Yet you can find it in a learner's dictionary:

http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/tweezers

Thanks to both of you!

აბა ყვავებს ვინ დაიჭერს, კარგო? გალიაში ბულბულები ზიან.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, July 05, 2017 4:21:38 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 26,242
Neurons: 139,836
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1 wrote:
Yet you can find it in a learner's dictionary:
http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/tweezers

Longman's Dictionary's staff are wrong to use that sentence as an example.
The definition they give says "twee‧zers /ˈtwiːzəz $ -ərz/ noun [plural]" - so giving a sentence which uses it as a singular is (to use a technical term) STUPID.

All the other examples they give use the noun correctly, as plural.

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
thar
Posted: Wednesday, July 05, 2017 5:29:36 AM

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Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 15,290
Neurons: 60,813
Yeah, it is 'from the corpus'.

People also say 'irregardless' and spell potatoe with an 'e'.
It doesn't make them any less wrong!

These are structures that have settled into an accepted form.
A pair of scissors, some scissors
A pair of tweezers, some tweezers
A pair of trousers, some trousers
A pair of glasses, some glasses.

They got there by very different routes, but that is the modern pattern.


For anyone to write 'a tweezers' they must have been monumentally not paying attention! Think

It is not even a case of 'a tweezer' being something that tweezes. The verb was back-formed from the noun, of the other way round.
Quote:
tweezers (n.)
"small pincers, diminutive tongs," 1650s, extended from tweezes, plural of tweeze "case for tweezers" (1620s), a shortening of etweese, considered as plural of etwee (1610s) "a small case," from French étui "small case" (see etui). Sense transferred from the case to the implement inside it. For form, compare trousers from trouzes.

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