On the mass noun restaurant rule

All discussion relevant to Countdown that is not too spoilerific. New members: come here first to introduce yourself. We don't bite, or at least rarely.
Post Reply
Gavin Chipper
Post-apocalypse
Posts: 7863
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 10:37 pm

On the mass noun restaurant rule

Post by Gavin Chipper » Thu Jul 21, 2016 6:43 pm

I've come to the conclusion that this is a stupid rule.

Basically - mass nouns can't be pluralised in most cases, but there are exceptions, one of which being when the thing is something you might order in a restaurant. So although e.g. FENNEL is a mass noun, because it's so tasty you might order two of them in a restaurant.

Maybe on the face of it this seems reasonable, but I don't think you're really using the word in its ordinary sense when you're using it like this. And the fact that it happens to be a mass noun doesn't really seem relevant. If we're having a restaurant rule it should really apply to anything that can be found on a menu, including plurals like CHIPS. There's nothing special about mass nouns in a case like this, so CHIPSES should also be allowed.

Once Susie offered SALMONS because you could order more than one salmon in a restaurant, even though SALMON isn't a mass noun. It's a normal count noun whose plural just happens to also be SALMON. But if you were ordering two of them in a restaurant, you probably would say SALMONS rather than SALMON. But it's been generally decided that this isn't something that should be allowed.

The point is that something appearing on a menu seems to be an invitation for people to stick an S (or ES or whatever) on the end of a word regardless of how its usually pluralised or indeed whether it is usually pluralised - i.e. generally use the language in a "non-standard" way. Unless this becomes a standard thing to be allowed across the board (so CHIPSES, RAVIOLIS, SALMONS), then there's no reason to specifically allow it for mass nouns. It's just that with mass nouns, it's always a bit borderline whether they can be pluralised or not, so it has given us an illusion of reasonableness. But this illusion has now been exposed.

User avatar
Mark Deeks
Kiloposter
Posts: 1670
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2011 3:15 am

Re: On the mass noun restaurant rule

Post by Mark Deeks » Fri Jul 22, 2016 7:59 am

Never lead with the conclusion.
Eoin Monaghan wrote:
He may not be liked on here, but you have to give some credit to Mark

Gavin Chipper
Post-apocalypse
Posts: 7863
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 10:37 pm

Re: On the mass noun restaurant rule

Post by Gavin Chipper » Fri Jul 22, 2016 8:39 am

Mark Deeks wrote:Never lead with the conclusion.
This isn't a crime novel. The reader wants to know where you're going.

User avatar
Johnny Canuck
Kiloposter
Posts: 1011
Joined: Sun Oct 03, 2010 10:44 pm
Location: Atlantic Canada
Contact:

Re: On the mass noun restaurant rule

Post by Johnny Canuck » Fri Jul 22, 2016 9:34 am

I'm not repluralising -S plurals to -SES in my initial wikicaps (unless the -SES forms are listed in Lexplorer), regardless of the restaurant rule. If cases like this come up, you can add them if you want but you'll have to edit the wikicaps yourself.
There are three erors in this semtence.

User avatar
Mark Deeks
Kiloposter
Posts: 1670
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2011 3:15 am

Re: On the mass noun restaurant rule

Post by Mark Deeks » Fri Jul 22, 2016 9:54 am

I think the major problem with the restaurant rule, even beyond its subjectivity, is that....well, does anyone really do this in restaurants?
Eoin Monaghan wrote:
He may not be liked on here, but you have to give some credit to Mark

Ryan Taylor
Postmaster General
Posts: 3661
Joined: Sun Oct 25, 2009 6:18 pm

Re: On the mass noun restaurant rule

Post by Ryan Taylor » Fri Jul 22, 2016 10:28 am

If you were ordering SALMONS, would you not just say "two salmon"?

Gavin Chipper
Post-apocalypse
Posts: 7863
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 10:37 pm

Re: On the mass noun restaurant rule

Post by Gavin Chipper » Fri Jul 22, 2016 11:41 am

Mark Deeks wrote:I think the major problem with the restaurant rule, even beyond its subjectivity, is that....well, does anyone really do this in restaurants?
You'd have to be pretty greedy.

Philip Wilson
Enthusiast
Posts: 470
Joined: Tue May 07, 2013 6:41 pm

Re: On the mass noun restaurant rule

Post by Philip Wilson » Mon Jul 25, 2016 8:39 pm

Most places you tend to help yourself to cereals, but what if you had to order them - would you ask for 2 Corn Flakes, 2 Corn Flakeses, or maybe ask for one Corn Flakes and another Corn Flakes? Or give up and have 2 Weetabixes instead?

Stewart Gordon
Acolyte
Posts: 188
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:48 am

Re: On the mass noun restaurant rule

Post by Stewart Gordon » Mon Jul 25, 2016 11:44 pm

Gavin Chipper wrote:The point is that something appearing on a menu seems to be an invitation for people to stick an S (or ES or whatever) on the end of a word regardless of how its usually pluralised or indeed whether it is usually pluralised
What are the exact rules about the "S (or ES or whatever)"? I think we need some in order to apply such a rule. Can we assume they're the 'regular' plural rules we were once taught? If that's the case then I guess we can conclude that, while the normal plural of CURRY is CURRIES, at a restaurant you would nonetheless be ordering two CURRYS....

User avatar
Ian Fitzpatrick
Enthusiast
Posts: 416
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2009 12:23 pm
Location: Wimborne, Dorset

Re: On the mass noun restaurant rule

Post by Ian Fitzpatrick » Mon Aug 01, 2016 11:23 am

Stewart Gordon wrote:
Gavin Chipper wrote:The point is that something appearing on a menu seems to be an invitation for people to stick an S (or ES or whatever) on the end of a word regardless of how its usually pluralised or indeed whether it is usually pluralised
What are the exact rules about the "S (or ES or whatever)"? I think we need some in order to apply such a rule. Can we assume they're the 'regular' plural rules we were once taught? If that's the case then I guess we can conclude that, while the normal plural of CURRY is CURRIES, at a restaurant you would nonetheless be ordering two CURRYS....
My local restaurant doesn't know how I spell what I say :)

I do think Suzie's rule is wrong, however.
I thought I was good at Countdown until I joined this forum

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest