Zeroes or zeros?
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Zeroes or zeros?

 
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Malte Starostik
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Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2005 8:02 am    Post subject: Zeroes or zeros? Reply with quote

Hi,

according to what I remember from school and my gut feeling, zeroes
would be the correct plural of zero.
Having seen zeros as well, I looked it up and to my surprise both my
German-English dictionary and Webster's include that spelling.
Now I was wondering which one is "more correct", i.e. is zeros just a
sloppy form that got allowed somewhen due to frequent use, is it a
regional difference or simply a matter of personal taste?

Thanks for any enlightenment,
Malte
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meirman
Guest





Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2005 8:06 am    Post subject: Re: Zeroes or zeros? Reply with quote

In alt.english.usage on Tue, 15 Mar 2005 02:02:26 +0100 Malte
Starostik <malte@starostik.de> posted:

Quote:
Hi,

according to what I remember from school and my gut feeling, zeroes
would be the correct plural of zero.
Having seen zeros as well,

Zeros was the Greek god of failed love.

Quote:
I looked it up and to my surprise both my
German-English dictionary and Webster's include that spelling.
Now I was wondering which one is "more correct", i.e. is zeros just a
sloppy form that got allowed somewhen due to frequent use, is it a
regional difference or simply a matter of personal taste?

Thanks for any enlightenment,
Malte

grin

s/ meirman If you are emailing me please
say if you are posting the same response.

Born west of Pittsburgh Pa. 10 years
Indianapolis, 7 years
Chicago, 6 years
Brooklyn NY 12 years
now in Baltimore 20 years
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Guest






Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2005 2:50 pm    Post subject: Re: Zeroes or zeros? Reply with quote

On Tue, 15 Mar 2005 02:02:26 +0100, Malte Starostik
<malte@starostik.de> wrote:

Quote:
Hi,

according to what I remember from school and my gut feeling, zeroes
would be the correct plural of zero.
Having seen zeros as well, I looked it up and to my surprise both my
German-English dictionary and Webster's include that spelling.
Now I was wondering which one is "more correct", i.e. is zeros just a
sloppy form that got allowed somewhen due to frequent use, is it a
regional difference or simply a matter of personal taste?

Thanks for any enlightenment,
Malte

Usually you only add "-es" rather than an "s" to make a plural
when a final consonant (or consonant pair) is "x" or "s", "sh" or
"ch". This is because the "s" sound is easily blurred into these and
you have to add a vowel (and thus an extra syllable) to make the "-s"
sound distinct from these preceding consonants. Words ending in other
consonants won't have the "-s" sound blurring into the final
consonant, so they would not be spoken with an extra syllable to
separate the pluralizing "-s" sound. I can't put my finger on the
rule for -s versus -es for a word ending in -z or -tz or other
buzzing/sibulant consonant forms, but my rule of thumb tells me that
if I need to sort out the pluralizing "s" sound from the preceding
sound I need to add a vowel: -es. I assume that if the word gerwertz
were to be a new addition to English without any dictionary guidance
as to proper spelling of the plural, the plural would be gerwertzes
and not gerwertzs, under the "sort out the sounds" rule of thumb.

There is no need to do any of this in "zeroes", yet it is an included
variant spelling in some dictionaries.

Zero is interesting in other ways, because the -o is pronounced as a
long vowel even though it is standing alone. There is a tendency in
English to require two vowels to make the first of them long: "ball"
(short a) but "bale" (long a), "mad" (short) but "maid" or "made"
(long a), etc. I wonder if the plural was once pronounced with some
peculiar vowel sound in some quarters, requiring a diphthong -oe so
that the long vowel -o was not used in the plural?

Zero is an oddball when it comes to spelling.
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Michael Mendelsohn
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Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2005 3:19 pm    Post subject: Re: Zeroes or zeros? Reply with quote

nullportal@verizon.net schrieb:
Quote:
On Tue, 15 Mar 2005 02:02:26 +0100, Malte Starostik
according to what I remember from school and my gut feeling, zeroes
would be the correct plural of zero.
Having seen zeros as well, I looked it up and to my surprise both my
German-English dictionary and Webster's include that spelling.

Zero is interesting in other ways, because the -o is pronounced as a
long vowel even though it is standing alone.

Zero is an oddball when it comes to spelling.

Webster's New Encyclopedic Dictionary, BD&L 1993, lists
zero, pl zeros also zeroes
salvo, pl salvos or salvoes
solo, pl solos or soli
innuendo, pl -dos or -does
farrago, pl -goes [!]
alto, pl altos
soprano, pl -pranos
zoo, pl zoos
domino, pl -noes or -nos

I can only conclude that words ending in -o are oddballs when it comes
to spelling. ;)

Google web has zeros beat zeroes 2:1 (4:1 if limited to English pages),
whilst google Usenet has it pretty much 1:1.

Cheers
Michael
--
It's silly talking about how many years we will have to spend
in the jungles of Vietnam when we could pave the whole country
and put parking stripes on it and still be home by Christmas.
-- Ronald Reagan, October 10, 1965
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Charles Riggs
Guest





Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2005 3:42 pm    Post subject: Re: Zeroes or zeros? Reply with quote

On Tue, 15 Mar 2005 02:02:26 +0100, Malte Starostik
<malte@starostik.de> wrote:

Quote:
Hi,

according to what I remember from school and my gut feeling, zeroes
would be the correct plural of zero.
Having seen zeros as well, I looked it up and to my surprise both my
German-English dictionary and Webster's include that spelling.
Now I was wondering which one is "more correct", i.e. is zeros just a
sloppy form that got allowed somewhen due to frequent use, is it a
regional difference or simply a matter of personal taste?

'Zeroes' is correcter than 'zeros'. 'Zeros' looks funny. Personal
taste, you say? Nah.

Quote:
Thanks for any enlightenment,

That's another kettle of fishes.
--
Charles Riggs

There are no accented letters in my email address
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Raymond S. Wise
Guest





Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2005 3:58 pm    Post subject: Re: Zeroes or zeros? Reply with quote

Malte Starostik wrote:
Quote:
Hi,

according to what I remember from school and my gut feeling, zeroes
would be the correct plural of zero.
Having seen zeros as well, I looked it up and to my surprise both my
German-English dictionary and Webster's include that spelling.
Now I was wondering which one is "more correct", i.e. is zeros just a
sloppy form that got allowed somewhen due to frequent use, is it a
regional difference or simply a matter of personal taste?

Thanks for any enlightenment,
Malte


If a spelling variant appears in a general dictionary without a usage
note such as "nonstandard" or "dialectal" or "regional," then it is
considered by the editors of that dictionary to be as standard as any
other spelling of the same word.

In the case of "zeros"/"zeroes," the *Merriam-Webster Online
Dictionary* ( www.m-w.com ) shows the plural forms as "plural zeros
also zeroes." According to the rules used at that dictionary, this
means that both spellings are indeed equally standard, but "zeroes" is
less common a variant than is "zeros," so that "zeroes" would be what
the M-W editors refer to as a "secondary variant." If it had been used
just about as often as is "zeros," then that would have been indicated
by using the word "or": "plural zeros or zeroes."

[In the above, I have decided not to represent the boldface type and
italics which were originally in the dictionary entry.]


--
Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA

E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
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Odysseus
Guest





Posted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 8:02 am    Post subject: Re: Zeroes or zeros? Reply with quote

Michael Mendelsohn wrote:
Quote:

nullportal@verizon.net schrieb:
On Tue, 15 Mar 2005 02:02:26 +0100, Malte Starostik
according to what I remember from school and my gut feeling, zeroes
would be the correct plural of zero.
Having seen zeros as well, I looked it up and to my surprise both my
German-English dictionary and Webster's include that spelling.

Zero is interesting in other ways, because the -o is pronounced as a
long vowel even though it is standing alone.

Zero is an oddball when it comes to spelling.

Webster's New Encyclopedic Dictionary, BD&L 1993, lists
zero, pl zeros also zeroes
salvo, pl salvos or salvoes
solo, pl solos or soli
innuendo, pl -dos or -does
farrago, pl -goes [!]
alto, pl altos
soprano, pl -pranos
zoo, pl zoos
domino, pl -noes or -nos

I can only conclude that words ending in -o are oddballs when it comes
to spelling. ;)

Do they give alternatives to "potatoes" or "tomatoes" -- or "rhinos"?

(I doubt they would.) Do they show both possibilities for
"albino(e)s", "mulatto(e)s", and "mosquito(e)s"?

At any rate "zero(e)s" is certainly not unique! FWIW I include the E.

--
Odysseus
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Posted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 8:02 am    Post subject: Re: Zeroes or zeros? Reply with quote

On Tue, 15 Mar 2005 09:19:02 +0100, Michael Mendelsohn
<invalid@msgid.michael.mendelsohn.de> wrote:

Quote:
nullportal@verizon.net schrieb:
On Tue, 15 Mar 2005 02:02:26 +0100, Malte Starostik
according to what I remember from school and my gut feeling, zeroes
would be the correct plural of zero.
Having seen zeros as well, I looked it up and to my surprise both my
German-English dictionary and Webster's include that spelling.

Zero is interesting in other ways, because the -o is pronounced as a
long vowel even though it is standing alone.

Zero is an oddball when it comes to spelling.

Webster's New Encyclopedic Dictionary, BD&L 1993, lists
zero, pl zeros also zeroes
salvo, pl salvos or salvoes
solo, pl solos or soli
innuendo, pl -dos or -does
farrago, pl -goes [!]
alto, pl altos
soprano, pl -pranos
zoo, pl zoos
domino, pl -noes or -nos

I can only conclude that words ending in -o are oddballs when it comes
to spelling. ;)

Google web has zeros beat zeroes 2:1 (4:1 if limited to English pages),
whilst google Usenet has it pretty much 1:1.

Cheers
Michael

Comes to think of it,
tomato (sing.) / tomatoes & tomatos (pl.)
potato (sing.) / potatos & potatoes (pl.)
and
potatoe (singular underhanded trick of lefty school teachers on Veeps,
who the press will blame rather than the trick player) / 'taters (pl.)

Indeed, it would seem plenty of -o ending words violate what my
sainted grade school teacher told me "-es only after _______". I'll
bet the class gerbil didn't "go to live with a nice farm family"
either!
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Malte Starostik
Guest





Posted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 8:02 am    Post subject: Re: Zeroes or zeros? Reply with quote

Quote:
Zero is an oddball when it comes to spelling.


Webster's New Encyclopedic Dictionary, BD&L 1993, lists
zero, pl zeros also zeroes
salvo, pl salvos or salvoes
solo, pl solos or soli
innuendo, pl -dos or -does
farrago, pl -goes [!]
alto, pl altos
soprano, pl -pranos
zoo, pl zoos
domino, pl -noes or -nos

I can only conclude that words ending in -o are oddballs when it comes
to spelling. Wink

:)

Quote:
Google web has zeros beat zeroes 2:1 (4:1 if limited to English pages),
whilst google Usenet has it pretty much 1:1.

Great, I do like belonging to yet another minority ;)

The final consonant rule rings a bell, unfortunately I can't remember
what I (could of*) learnt concerning final 'o' (I'm pretty sure there
was something...). Maybe I should have paid more attention to such
boring stuff in school. No way I would have imagined I'd ever try to
recall English grammar rules once seen in 6(?)th grade hehe.

Thanks for all your replies,
Malte


*) SCNR after reading the "loose" thread
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Guest






Posted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 3:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Zeroes or zeros? Reply with quote

<Zero is interesting in other ways, <because the -o is pronounced as a
long <vowel even though it is standing alone.

Go

No

So
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Guest






Posted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 3:12 pm    Post subject: Re: Zeroes or zeros? Reply with quote

<Zero is interesting in other ways, <because the -o is pronounced as a
long <vowel even though it is standing alone.

So

No

Go
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Guest






Posted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 2:24 am    Post subject: Re: Zeroes or zeros? Reply with quote

On Wed, 16 Mar 2005 03:11:36 -0500, c28k@webtv.net wrote:

Quote:
Go

No

So

Indeed, there seem to be a lot of instances of -o ending words not
following a tendency, which is but a tendency and not a rule, of
requiring two vowels to make the first long. Maybe a lot of very
short words don't follow this tendency: "be" for example.

Of the above, "no" would probably have the most conventional plural
use. I tend to see a construction like "no votes" rather than "noes"
though, even though "noes" is accepted for formal use. No-no could
have plural no-noes, but that's baby talk.

I can imagine "go" having a plural in a formal sense when "go" is used
to refer to a round in a game, such as the Australian betting game
that involves a board and a coin flipped off it after the casino
worker says "Fair go spinner". I suppose an OzE speaker might say he
or she had "fair goes" as a spinner, but I'm guessing. I would think
other "goes" are informal or unconventional, if used at all.

I can't think of a plural of "so".
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Michael Mendelsohn
Guest





Posted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 3:10 am    Post subject: Re: Zeroes or zeros? Reply with quote

Odysseus schrieb:
Quote:
Michael Mendelsohn wrote:
nullportal@verizon.net schrieb:
On Tue, 15 Mar 2005 02:02:26 +0100, Malte Starostik
according to what I remember from school and my gut feeling, zeroes
would be the correct plural of zero.
Having seen zeros as well, I looked it up and to my surprise both my
German-English dictionary and Webster's include that spelling.

Zero is interesting in other ways, because the -o is pronounced as a
long vowel even though it is standing alone.

Zero is an oddball when it comes to spelling.

Webster's New Encyclopedic Dictionary, BD&L 1993, lists
zero, pl zeros also zeroes
salvo, pl salvos or salvoes
solo, pl solos or soli
innuendo, pl -dos or -does
farrago, pl -goes [!]
alto, pl altos
soprano, pl -pranos
zoo, pl zoos
domino, pl -noes or -nos

I can only conclude that words ending in -o are oddballs when it comes
to spelling. ;)

Do they give alternatives to "potatoes" or "tomatoes" -- or "rhinos"?

Yeah, trust the non-native speaker to overlook the obvious examples. Wink
I did happen to discover those later on, but didn't think them worth a
separate post.

My dictionary gives no alternatives to potatoes and tomatoes (even
though french fries and catsup are listed Wink.

rhino, pl rhino or rhinos

One rhino, two rhino, same as one giraffe, two giraffe.

Quote:
(I doubt they would.) Do they show both possibilities for
"albino(e)s", "mulatto(e)s", and "mosquito(e)s"?

albino, pl -nos
mulatto, pl -toes or -tos
mosquito, pl -toes also -tos

Quote:
At any rate "zero(e)s" is certainly not unique! FWIW I include the E.

My Google results are probably skewed, at that; if someone zeroes a
meter or zeroes in on a target, he has no option to spell that 'zeros'.
Or are there exceptions to the 'goes', 'does' "rule"?

Cheers
Michael
--
It's silly talking about how many years we will have to spend
in the jungles of Vietnam when we could pave the whole country
and put parking stripes on it and still be home by Christmas.
-- Ronald Reagan, October 10, 1965
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