I was an electronic engineer for most of my working life. During all of that time I used the word “data” lots of times, every day.
It was never a plural word as it seems to be used now. Neither was it a singular word. It was used in a similar way to “water” or “hay” or “air”. As in:-
- The water comes along this pipe – the data comes along these wires.
NOT the water come or the data come.
- The hay is stored in the barn – the data is stored on the hard drive.
NOT the hay are stored or the data are stored
- The air is compressed – the data is manipulated
NOT the air are compressed or the data are manipulated.
It was an mass or uncountable noun.
We did not use the word datum to mean a piece of data. The word datum was usually a point on a graph. A piece of data in electronics is a “bit” or a “byte”. In non technical English it could be a word or a sentence or a number or something very vague like a thought or a belief.
When did it all change? And when was it decided that we all must use Latin plurals and start referring to football stadia. What next? Will a box of of magnum classic ice creams become magna? Will we see croci (crocuses) growing in the garden.
When will we stop being bloody pretentious??