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binocular vs. pair of binoculars

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#1 genelew

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 03:06 PM

I have sometimes wondered (when nights are too cloudy) why it seems that most everyone uses the term "pair of binoculars" when in fact we are talking about "a binocular" which has a pair of "objectives". A pair of binoculars is really two "binoculars". Has anyone else pondered this or do I just have too much time on my hands?

 

Gene (stuck indoors with too much cloud cover and too low temperatures )

 


 

#2 nicoledoula

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 03:08 PM

You aren't the only one. 


 

#3 NDfarmer

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 03:21 PM

A pair of binoculars.png
 

#4 photoracer18

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 03:23 PM

Do you put on a sock in the morning or a pair of socks? Or a pair of pants, shorts, underwear? Any item that requires the use of 2 body parts it normally referred to as a pair of something (in this case both eyes).


Edited by photoracer18, 22 January 2019 - 03:25 PM.

 

#5 terraclarke

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 03:38 PM

I think ‘pair of binoculars’ is the archaic form, and in contemporary language it’s appropriate to just say ‘binoculars’. One single lense device of the same optical/mechanical construction being a ‘monocular’. (Same with one wearing ‘pants’ and ‘socks’.)

Edited by terraclarke, 22 January 2019 - 03:44 PM.

 

#6 HornDozer

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 03:39 PM

Do you put on a sock in the morning or a pair of socks? Or a pair of pants, shorts, underwear? Any item that requires the use of 2 body parts it normally referred to as a pair of something (in this case both eyes).

Not sure of the veracity of your contention. But I like it very much.  Ere I challenge your contention though, I have a question.

 

Are you a member of the ETC (English Teacher's Caucus) ?   If so, then I know from decades of such situations that further discussion is unwarranted.   The missus and all other ETCs are always correct.....at least in their own mind.

 

PS If asked discretely, how would you answer the question: "Do you have balls?  Or a pair of balls?"


Edited by HornDozer, 22 January 2019 - 03:44 PM.

 

#7 Mike G.

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 03:53 PM

hmmm.  I've been telling my wife that I only have xx pairs of binoculars.  If I now have to tell her the real number, I think I'm in trouble....

 

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#8 Pinac

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 04:00 PM

.......

....... when in fact we are talking about "a binocular" ......

.......

 

I think the grammatically correct term is still „binoculars„, in analogy to „I put on my glasses„.

English and French (les jumelles, les lunettes) both traditionally use the plural form, German the singular (das Fernglas, die Brille).

Unfortunately, for a website I am building I had to pick the name „binocular„ since binoculars was already taken frown.gif

Pinac


 

#9 genelew

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 04:19 PM

I am pleased to see the interesting responses. I think I would still maintain that if a monocular consists of one "ocular", which in optics is synonymous with "eyepiece", then a binocular is an instrument that consists of two "oculars". But I have to admit that it sounds strange to say " I'm going out tonight with 'binocular'" but "going out with 'binoculars'" sounds OK and doesn't necessarily mean I'm going out with more than one binocular.smile.gif undecided.gif English is a curious language.

 

I just looked up binoculars and it is designated as a "plural noun". But if you were to put an article in front of it, you wouldn't say "a binoculars"; you would have to say "a binocular". But you could use the definite article and say "the binoculars". Again, I say English is curious.

Gene


Edited by genelew, 22 January 2019 - 04:31 PM.

 

#10 Corona Non Grata

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 04:27 PM

See: Pants

 

Two sides joined to one unit and referred to as a pair and plural

 

English, eh?


 

#11 *skyguy*

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 04:32 PM

Technically, I guess they could be called a "pair of monoculars".


 

#12 PETER DREW

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 04:38 PM

I prefer to say or write "a binocular" rather than "a pair of binoculars". What catches my eye more is the use of "lense" as the singular of "lenses". Crops up quite often.


 

#13 NDfarmer

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 05:18 PM

It's good to see this matter is now settled.
 

#14 NDfarmer

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 05:40 PM

Do you put on a sock in the morning or a pair of socks? Or a pair of pants, shorts, underwear? Any item that requires the use of 2 body parts it normally referred to as a pair of something (in this case both eyes).


You are on to something, but you just don't understand it yet.

The word "bi-noculars", already has the connotation of 2 in its
name, hence the word.
 

#15 Foss

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 05:50 PM

Maybe it's due to the fact that if someone says, "You have a nice binocular," it sounds clunky. smile.gif


 

#16 Rich V.

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 06:00 PM

Not clunky to me...   undecided.gif

 

I have a drawer filled with many binoculars.  I may take out one or more binoculars at any particular time.  Sometimes I pick only one binocular to take with me.  Sometimes it's a pair of binoculars.   Once in awhile it's a trio of binoculars.   wink.gif

 

Rich


 

#17 NDfarmer

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 06:06 PM

Twin telescopes, AKA binoculars. Do you see the word connection, twin, bi.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Twin telescopes.jpg

 

#18 tomykay12

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 06:23 PM

My noculars are definitely not bi


 

#19 Grimnir

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 06:29 PM

A single instrument is correctly termed a binocular just as we refer to a single machine as a bicycle, not a pair of bicycles.

 

Graham


 

#20 NDfarmer

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 06:34 PM

A single instrument is correctly termed a binocular just as we refer to a single machine as a bicycle, not a pair of bicycles.
 
Graham


Thanks for that, I suppose someone from England can give us a good
understanding of the English language.

You did just that......
 

#21 Old Man

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 10:02 PM

It has to be the "weather".lol.gif


 

#22 Ford Prefect

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 04:57 AM

I think the grammatically correct term is still „binoculars„, in analogy to „I put on my glasses„.

English and French (les jumelles, les lunettes) both traditionally use the plural form, German the singular (das Fernglas, die Brille).

Unfortunately, for a website I am building I had to pick the name „binocular„ since binoculars was already taken frown.gif

Pinac

In Italian, oddly, the word for binoculars  is singular ("binocolo"), while trousers, socks and glasses are plural ("pantaloni", "calzini", "occhiali").

For glasses we actually say "un paio di occhiali" (literally "a pair of glasses").

 

Curiously, the plural word "occhiali" is used for the glasses, nowadays the singular word is not used anymore, but when Galileo Galilei described his telescope he called it "occhiale" (Galileo wrote his most important writings, such as Il Saggiatore and the Dialogo, and his letters, in Italian instead of in Latin, that was the language of the academic world at the time).


 

#23 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 06:20 AM

This is the English language.  Logic has no place in discussions of English.  English is a matter of convention.  The convention is those things are called binoculars. 

 

By the way..  When I see a bird in a tree and want a quick look,  

 

I grab my "binos" .. Who says bino? 

 

Gene (stuck indoors with too much cloud cover and too low temperatures )

 

 

 

Cleardarkskies says our place in the high desert will be cloudless with good transparency tonight . However..  Currently I am about 1300 miles (850 miles as the crow flies ) north in Montana and the reality is clouds and more clouds .

 

So,  i think we need some more threads of dubious worth . 

 

"What is the best color for a pair of binos ?"

 

"Are ruby coatings a sign of poor optics ?"

 

"The worst binoculars you ever bought new" (I like this one )

 

"Using binoculars upside down,  a few tips"

 

"Effectively using binoculars as a microscope"

 

"Binocular disasters"

 

Jon


 

#24 edwincjones

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 06:40 AM

my speech, right or wrong, my speech

 

edj


 

#25 RickyD85

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 08:01 AM

A single instrument is correctly termed a binocular just as we refer to a single machine as a bicycle, not a pair of bicycles.

 

Graham

 

Graham, the term 'binoculars' can also refer to a single item however?

 

Singular - bicycle, binocular, binoculars?

 

Plural - bicycles, binoculars

 

"I enjoy using my binoculars" seems acceptable as a singular

 

"I enjoy using my bicycles" not acceptable as a singular

 

Binoculars seems to be an accepted term for the 1 item, as well as plural. I'm way out of my depth here but I wonder if that difference is why it *may* be acceptable to refer to a 'pair of binoculars' ?


Edited by RickyD85, 23 January 2019 - 08:02 AM.

 


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