Hi AUE,
I hope you can help me with this issue which we've been discussing in alt.fan.douglas-adams. We've looked it up in 3 different dictionaries with no helpful result and I've read the FAQ on your site, not finding the answer there either.
The thing we've discussed is the singular of "dice" which is a bit confusing to us because my own dictionary (Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, 4th edition) says that the usage of "die" as singular for "dice" is dated and that "dice" should be the same in both plural and singular. Another member of afda, who has 6th edition of same dictionary, says that, according to his dictionary, the usage of "die" as singular form of "dice" is American English. However, more than one member from England, with a British education, say that they were taught to use "die" as singular for "dice". Finally, I looked it up at www.m-w.com where it seems that both usages are listed with no special note or emphasis on either of them (unless I misunderstand them).

Now I'm asking you: Can you help us solve this one? Is one more correct than the other one, or is it simply a question of some sort of regional difference or some other kind of difference?
Nikitta a.a. #1759 Apatriot(No, not apricot)#18
ICQ# 251532856
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Hi AUE,

snip re: die as singular of dice
Now I'm asking you: Can you help us solve this one? Is one more correct than the other one, or is it simply a question of some sort of regional difference or some other kind of difference?

Perhaps regional. I'd never drum someone out of court for using "die" might even use it myself but anyone who says that "dice" cannot properly be singular is trying to define usage by etymology the weakest usage argument that exists.
(For what it's worth, 'data' and 'media' are clearly going the same way not there yet, but they're on the way.)
From Burchfield ( The New Fowler's ):
dice (noun). In origin (14C) the p. of die (noun) (as in the die is cast , now fig., 'the decisive step is taken'). The small cubes with faces bearing 1-6 spots used in games of chance are the dice (pl.); and one of them is also called a dice .

Cheers, Harvey
Ottawa/Toronto/Edmonton for 30 years;
Southern England for the past 21 years.
(for e-mail, change harvey to whhvs)
On 26 Oct 2003, MEow wrote

Conversely, I'd never criticize someone, during a games of Risk, who said "Whoops, I dropped a dice on the floor", but I would be looking for a die on the floor.
In some board games, and in Cribbage, we use a single die to determine who goes first. I would never refer to that as a dice. You roll a die, and not a dice.
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snip
In some board games, and in Cribbage, we use a single die to determine who goes first. I would never refer to that as a dice. You roll a die, and not a dice.

Thinking about this, I think that's my usage as well.

It does appear, though, that those who "roll a dice" although different to you and me are not wrong.

Cheers, Harvey
Ottawa/Toronto/Edmonton for 30 years;
Southern England for the past 21 years.
(for e-mail, change harvey to whhvs)
on 26 Oct 2003:
On 26 Oct 2003, Tony Cooper wrote snip

In some board games, and in Cribbage, we use a ... a dice. You roll a die, and not a dice.

Thinking about this, I think that's my usage as well. It does appear, though, that those who "roll a dice" although different to you and me are not wrong.

You can do it if you put the fingers of one hand on the top of the end of the blade on one of those large French-chef knives and grip the handle with the other hand; then you can roll the knife from one end of the pile of garlic or onions you're dicing to the other, playing the knife like a teeter-totter all the way.

For e-mail, delete the OBVIOUS intruders and insert the OBVIOUS domain. (NB: This sig will self-destruct within 30 days.)
Huh? What domain is that? (Sorry if I seem a bit thick. I don't actually want to send you a message, but I am curious.)

Mike Barnes
Cheshire, England
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on
26 Oct 2003:
Huh? What domain is that? (Sorry if I seem a bit thick. I don't actually want to send you a message, but I am curious.)

netscape instead of nospam.

For e-mail, delete the OBVIOUS intruders and insert the OBVIOUS domain. (NB: This sig will self-destruct within 30 days.)
snip

In some board games, and in Cribbage, we use a ... a dice. You roll a die, and not a dice.

Thinking about this, I think that's my usage as well. It does appear, though, that those who "roll a dice" although different to you and me are not wrong.

So this means that both are equally acceptable?
English isn't my native language, but I'm always interested in improving my English and that's a bit where the discussion begun:

Someone had a hard time deciding which, of 2 books, to read first and I said something to the effect of "You could toss a coin or roll a dice" and someone, also not having English as his native language, pointed out to me that singular of "dice" is "die" (it being well know there that I welcome that kind of corrections, as long as it's done reasonably politely). I looked it up and confusion begun. The guy, who also looked it up in his dictionary, also doesn't have English as his native language.
Of those I've talked to about this, it seems that those who have English as their native language prefer to use "die" as singular of "dice", but it's a very small sample which is probably not big enough for me to draw a conclusion on.
I'll wait for more people to reply to my question and hopefully clear up my confusion, but maybe I should start using "die" to be on the safe side?

Nikitta a.a. #1759 Apatriot(No, not apricot)#18
ICQ# 251532856
Unreferenced footnotes: http://www.nut.house.cx/cgi-bin/nemwiki.pl?ISFN Hi, I'm the .signature virus. Copy me into your .sig file and help me spread!
So this means that both are equally acceptable?

'die' is regarded by some educated people as technically correct, but it's not normally used. You would get some strange looks if you used it in ordinary circles.

Paul
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