While I am on the subject of plurals… we have noticed several people on TV recently saying incidences when they are talking about something that has happened. I think they mean to say incidents but get carried away with the importance of the moment. You often hear this kind of overly-formal speech containing made-up long words from emergency services personnel (think the local policeman or fireman) when they are called on to give a report of what happened on TV or radio. Here’s a short excerpt from a book about common errors in English usage by Paul Brians at Washington State University, where he explains the confusion between incident, incidence and instance. However he doesn’t mention this ‘interesting’ (OK, wrong) new plural form. Language change in action?
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