QUOTE(Flossie @ Mar 6 2011, 07:56 PM)
I'm posting this here in the hope that someone will look before tomorrow...
I'm covering some lectures for someone and am currently revising her slides before sending the material for Tuesday's lecture to reprographics (needs to be done tomorrow). I can't work out whether she's wrong, or I am...
Is the word 'politics' singular or plural? I had thought that the word was always plural. The other lecturer (who knows more about the topic than I do!) is using the word in the singular, and all the way through the slides she is using questions such as "What is politics?". I think that the correct phrasing would be "What are politics?" but I don't want to change everything if I'm wrong.
Which is correct?
Both of you are correct. The Shorter (2 vol) OED says it's a plural noun, treated as plural or singular. These kind of issues are dealt with on a case-by-case basis, so what you might do for mathematics is not germane (ie don't worry). The etymology also doesn't matter once the OED has spoken!
More important is to be CONSISTENT. So use 'is' or 'are' but don't swap between the two (in a publication, lecture, etc).
In this case, assuming you will be speaking to the slides and will presumably follow your own own rule when speaking, you'd be sensible to change.
The only caveat: if you don't have time to do it with care and ensure ALL are changed, don't do it at all. Nothing hits the eye quicker than an inconsistency.
<EDIT> Should have added... check that there isn't a 'house' style' for the department/school/whatever that dictates it should be singular... tho' if that were so I should think it would have filtered thro'. <end>