Is there any explanation regarding why some nouns are used in singular form while the others are used in plural form such as price tags in stores or menus in restaurants. I know that in languages where there is count/mass distinction uncountable nouns such as milk, meat etc. are tagged in singular form. For example in Swedish, at the stores many countable items are naturally tagged in plural form such as "apelsiner(oranges)"and "jackor(jackets)" as they are tagged in English. However I noticed out that countable products such as cucumbers and onions are tagged in singular form as "gurka" and "lök" rather than "gurkor" and "lökar" on the contrary to other fruits and vegetables. Is there any examination/explanation in linguistics directly referring such terminology?

  • English grammar does not extend to price tags. Everybody makes up their own ways to print them. – jlawler Apr 6 '13 at 16:58
  • Thanks for the comment. However, for example we see the tag "apples" not "apple" at supermarkets or restaurant menus. In English it is said as "I like apples" or "I buy apples" by using plurals. Isn't it related with that usage and grammatical formation? – LingX Apr 6 '13 at 19:16
  • Sometimes. By some people. Others follow their own rules and customs. It's their tags for their stuff and they can do it in whatever way seems best to them. No doubt some ways are better than others, but it's hard to tell which. – jlawler Apr 6 '13 at 20:10
  • English grammar does extend to price tags and in fact a similar thing is known in English specifically in the garment industry, including price tags on clothing where singular forms such as "pant", "short", and "trouser" occur frequently, very unlike in common speech. – hippietrail Apr 7 '13 at 9:18
  • @jlawler, "they can do it in whatever way seems best to them". How is that different from pretty much all use of language? – dainichi Apr 8 '13 at 2:32

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