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On Sat, Dec 20, 2008 at 12:44:02AM +0100, David Marjanovic scripsit:
>> It is important to note here that "the postcrania" is being treated as
>> a collective noun in application to *Cedarpelta*, a singular entity,
>> for which it is permissible to use a singular tense.
> Well, it _isn't_ a collective noun, it's a plural (of _postcranium_ --
> which, incidentally, is arguably a collective: "all bones except those in
> the head"). That's my point.
While it is probably more natural to phrase it as something like "we
describe the postcrania of *Cedarpelta*", "the postcrania of
*Cedarpelta* is described" is fine, provided you can deduce from context
that there's one specific Cedarpelta involved. This is because it
doesn't matter if the noun is collective, it matters if the noun phrase
is collective. "The postcrania of *Cedarpelta*" is plausibly collective,
and English will go a long way on plausibly.
Similarly, "David's library is a matter of scientific curiosity"
or "Graydon's computer parts pile is not very well organized".