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Meanwhile, over in the French
Posted: 27 November 2011 11:04 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Shouldn’t it really be bons mots? or only in French?

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Posted: 27 November 2011 03:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I would think either is acceptable in English. I write bons mots.

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Posted: 28 November 2011 05:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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They’ve changed it to bons mots.

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Posted: 28 November 2011 06:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Generally, I’d say when writing in English, bon mots would be preferred. When writing in English, use English inflections.

But here, given the article’s subject matter, bons mots is more appropriate.

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Posted: 28 November 2011 09:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I agree with Dave; it would never occur to me to write “bons mots” in English (any more than to write the plural of sputnik as sputniki).

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Posted: 28 November 2011 02:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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languagehat - 28 November 2011 09:31 AM

I agree with Dave; it would never occur to me to write “bons mots” in English (any more than to write the plural of sputnik as sputniki).

This doesn’t seem an especially strong objection. Some English words of recent foreign origin use the foreign plurals, some don’t.

When writing in English, use English inflections.

This is not a matter of inflection. Bon mot is one noun, and bons mots is one of its conventional plurals in English. It is the _only_ plural given in the Collins dictionary.

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Posted: 28 November 2011 03:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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This doesn’t seem an especially strong objection. Some English words of recent foreign origin use the foreign plurals, some don’t.

Or the reverse as in graffiti and graffito.
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Posted: 28 November 2011 03:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Not sure how that exemplifies “reverse”.  I’ve seen graffiti (plural in Italian) used in English as a mass noun, constructed as singular ("Too much graffiti is bad for property values."), and even as a countable singular ("Somebody wrote an obscene graffiti on the wall.") but I’ve never seen graffito used as a plural, and if I did, I’d just assume the author had made an ignorant blunder.

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Posted: 28 November 2011 04:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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This doesn’t seem an especially strong objection.

I was not offering it as a logical objection but as a statement of my views.  People can use whatever plurals they like; it strikes me as silly to use a foreign plural because you happen to know it, leaving acres and acres of anglicized plurals intact because you don’t happen to know the “correct” ones, but that’s just me.  (Cf. the objections to “the hoi polloi” by people who say “the Alhambra” without a qualm.)

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Posted: 28 November 2011 11:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Japanese doesn’t form plurals like we do as in ‘The Seven Samurai’ though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen ‘kimonos’. You never seen yens either or Thai bahts.

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Posted: 29 November 2011 12:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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What’s the OED say?

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Posted: 29 November 2011 03:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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The OED doesn’t have a full entry for bon mots (it’s under bon), so it doesn’t specifically call out the plural form. But the citations are split, both bon mots and bons mots.

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Posted: 29 November 2011 03:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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The OED doesn’t have a full entry for bon mots (it’s under bon)
--

That seems an odd decision.

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Posted: 29 November 2011 04:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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That seems an odd decision.

Not when you’re trying to cram all of the English language into just twenty volumes.

And even with the online edition, the editorial time required to produce a full-blown entry is a significant investment. The editors are constantly weighing how they should budget their limited resources.

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Posted: 29 November 2011 07:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I note with amusement that the OED’s entry on the “sandwich made from a small flat loaf of Italian-style bread” is actually headed “panini”, and three of the six citations talk either of “a panini” or “paninis”. Indeed, I suspect the majority of English speakers don’t know the singular is properly “panino”, and except in a place run by Italians I don’t think I’d ask for “a panino” myself, for fear of sounding like a pretentious prat.

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Posted: 29 November 2011 07:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Yeah, that’s a good example; similarly, it would be pretentious to ask for a “tamal” instead of a tamale.  (And by “properly” you mean “in Italian,” of course.)

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