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Binocular or binoculars?


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A 'bi'nocular is two oculars. So, then, is a binocular a 'binocular' or 'binoculars'?

I confess after all these years I am still unsure ☺️ 

Please help. 

Steve

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Hah, that's the English language for you, we're not very good at defining singular items from pairs are we? Pair of trousers, pair of scissors etc. 

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Binoculars (noun) must be plural, by definition, I'd think. Singular would be monocular. "Binocular" would be an adjective, e.g. binocular vision, having two forward-facing eyes.

EDIT: as per above post, "a pair of trousers", yet one can buy a trouser press. Implying a press for a trouser? (Yes, it's the press that's singular).

EDIT2: a visit to the Wikipedia page for "plurale tantum":

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluralia_tantum

Edited by wulfrun
as per
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Like Wulfrun I'd use binocular as an adjective and binoculars as the noun. Since I don't believe unreservedly in the concept of linguistic 'correctness' I don't know what the dictionary says and wouldn't be influenced by it on this one. However, the version with the 's' could be bisexual for me: 'This is a nice binocular,' sounds bearable, even though I wouldn't use it. In that phrase the noun, whatever it might have been, (binocular what? ) is left unspoken but is somehow hanging there in the air. It has, it seems to me, left some of its noun-ness implicit in the adjective. I can't see myself using the phrase though, when I can be entirely comfortable with, 'These are nice binoculars.'

Now I'm imagining an obsequious tailor proffering his wares to a customer with the phrase, 'I think Sir will find this to be a particularly fine trouser...' 🤣

Olly

 

 

 

Edited by ollypenrice
typo
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Always like discussions on grammar and intricacies of words and language. My supervisor years ago gave me an image like this to soften a drilling on oxford commas, semicolons and which vs that etc.

I used binocular and monocular, binoculars was two sets of binocular, but not two monoculars.....

No judgement is being made :)

2094585312_Photo07-10-2016185954.jpg.c1d0b9bd697bac823793526b35d0a0c3.jpg

Edited by GalaxyGael
typos, again
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13 hours ago, Marvin Jenkins said:

Why are animals referred to in this way, Horse-Horses. Sheep…… clearly not Sheeps😂

My wife wouldn't agree. On our visits to England she's always keen to try some feesh and sheeps.

Olly

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37 minutes ago, ollypenrice said:

My wife wouldn't agree. On our visits to England she's always keen to try some feesh and sheeps.

Olly

My wife too! She says fishes and sheeps. 

PS. She's a native Russian/Kazakh speaker.

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We suffer with that on this side of the pond too.  You buy one pair of pants or three pairs.  One deer or several deer....it's not deers.  What a messed up language English is.

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But rich...with the largest vocabulary. I'm proud of my language! 😛

It's worse for speakers of some languages. They don't distinguish between singular and plural, so (in translation) 'one chair' 'two chair'. The most logical, if clumsy, is Malay, where a plural is made by just repeating the noun: 'malam'' = night, 'malam malam' = nights. That's if they bother to pluralise it at all.

The general rule in English is that adjectives are never plural.

 

 

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Rightly or wrongly, to me it’s always been a pair of binoculars, it just sounds correct to me. I would also say a pair of bins, or a pair or binos, not a pair of bin which would seem very odd to me.

Without wishing to take the thread off track, I also struggle with data in a similar way. I know that in scientific ‘speak’, datum is the singular and data the plural, but to me it always sounds wrong to say ‘the data are correct’, I always say ‘the data is correct’. My apologies to everyone offended by this deep character flaw of mine 😉

 

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4 hours ago, Stu said:

 

Without wishing to take the thread off track, I also struggle with data in a similar way. I know that in scientific ‘speak’, datum is the singular and data the plural, but to me it always sounds wrong to say ‘the data are correct’, I always say ‘the data is correct’. My apologies to everyone offended by this deep character flaw of mine 😉

 

Well, I hope you're thoroughly ashamed of yourself, Stu! 😛😄

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13 minutes ago, Franklin said:

I think binoculars are technically a pair of monoculars but I guess the phrase "a pair of binoculars" has just become ingrained in language. 

No different from "a pair of scissors/shears/underpants", etc. These are technically called 'uncountable plurals', and things like "a pair of..." are partitives.

You'll have to forgive me. I spent 40 years teaching English language and grammar. Old habits die hard. 😄

Edited by cajen2
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German is not much better or different when it comes to trousers. 'a pair of trousers' = 'ein Paar Hosen' but you could just say 'eine Hose', 'one trouser'. Or even 'ein paar Hosen' = 'a few trousers' since 'Paar' means two and 'paar' means few.

And in German it's 'Binokular' - I guess since it's derived from Latin 'bi' = 'two' and 'oculus' = 'eye'. So there is no plural, since the Latin plural would be 'oculi', at least in German. So maybe 'binoculi' :D. But we use 'Fernglas' mostly.

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Partitives are handy: linguistically they're very flexible. Singular uncountable nouns can't be counted (surprise, surprise) so for example 'two informations' is wrong, so we use 'two pieces of information'. Same with plural uncountables: 'two scissors' becomes 'two pairs of scissors'.

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

On 08/04/2022 at 11:02, FLO said:

A 'bi'nocular is two oculars. So, then, is a binocular a 'binocular' or 'binoculars'?

I confess after all these years I am still unsure ☺️ 

 

Late to the party but:

<insufferable_pedant>

A monocular:
Opticron_10x25_Oregon_Monocular.jpg

A binocular:

image.png.671330c36c6bc6fca4f47e57e0a1099a.png

 

A pair of binoculars:

image.png.dbd6b974ee798473b1c862642ba6babb.png

</insufferable_pedant>

 

  :evil:   🤣

But seriously, whichever you use, the only people who will misunderstand your meaning are those who make a full-time occupation of being awkward.

 

 

 

 

Edited by BinocularSky
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1 hour ago, BinocularSky said:

 

Late to the party but:

<insufferable_pedant>

A monocular:
Opticron_10x25_Oregon_Monocular.jpg

A binocular:

image.png.671330c36c6bc6fca4f47e57e0a1099a.png

 

A pair of binoculars:

image.png.dbd6b974ee798473b1c862642ba6babb.png

</insufferable_pedant>

 

  :evil:   🤣

But seriously, whichever you use, the only people who will misunderstand your meaning are those who make a full-time occupation of being awkward.

 

 

 

 

You win the thread 🤣 funnily enough I was having a heated debate about this with a work colleague a couple of days ago; I was on the side of an ocular, a binocular, etc. Like you,  I couldn't get across the concept that a pair of binoculars were four oculars 😁

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