Tuesday, June 12, 2018

"the wages of sin is death": Christ, that grammar

If, like me, you've been frustrated by the centuries-old locution "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23), here's an explanation for the bizarre construction.

I gather, from the above-linked blog post, that wages is here being treated the way we moderns treat the word media, which is technically plural if you go back to the Latin (the singular of media is medium), but which we often use as if it were singular ("The media is once again aghast at Trump's latest utterance."). While that explanation doesn't sit well with me, I suppose I must bow to the force of tradition in this one specific case. As for media, well, on this blog, we treat it as grammatically plural—not just because we like going old-school, but also because people do still use the word medium as a singular form of media. You can't have it both ways, I say: if you're using the word medium to denote something grammatically and conceptually singular, then you can't also use media as if it were singular.

Same goes for datum/data, by the way. The word data is a Latin plural, and so long as people use datum in the singular, data will always be plural to me.

The data are clear, but don't ignore this anomalous datum.

Meanwhile, a pro-ACA liberal experiences the wages of Obamacare.


Surprises Aplenty said...

I couldn't figure out if your occasional use of "we" rather than "I" was for comedic effect connected to your singular/plural argument or if I was misreading sections that were quotes:

"I gather...sit well with me, I suppose I must bow ... on this blog, we treat ...not just because we like going old-school, ..., I say"

Kevin Kim said...

You can think of the "we" as a humorous royal "we" that really means "I." Since I'm the only manager of this blog, any "we" that's related to it can only refer to me.