Examples of training industry jargon from last week's article are coming in. What I'd like to do is collect them and then try to get a sense of how prevalent they are.
The first example, sent in by Laura Gillenwater, is trainings with an s and e-learnings* with an s. Echoing the feelings of so many grammarians and word mavens, she says she sees this usage "everywhere," and it makes her want to scream. The argument she gives is that an additional word is needed: "training courses" or "e-learning modules" or "e-courses."
And right there is the trouble. You have to add a second word for proper usage. The sad thing is that if a new locution is shorter, it will gain traction. And if that shorter word or phrase actually fills a need, then it will probably be adopted by others.
The grammar problem here is that the words training and learning are non-count nouns. Non-count nouns identify a substance or concept that must first be "containerized" (see what I did there--another industry's jargon!) before the containers can be counted--like soup or water or furniture. You can't count soup. But you can count bowls of soup. You can't count water, but you can count glasses of water. And you can't count furniture ("How many furniture do you have? I have 6 furnitures. That's a no.) Usually the way you can identify a non-count noun is by doing the experiment I just ran on "furniture."
Normally, you can't add an s to a non-count noun. But every day of the week restaurant servers use a shortcut. One person asks for a glass of water. The server then asks the whole table, "How many waters?" and likewise, back in the kitchen someone asks, "How many soups do we need right now?" So for efficiency, people leave off that second word, or the cumbersome phrase, "glasses of water," "bowls of soup."
Aside from such abbreviated usage when in a high-speed environment, new jargon also arises when people are trying to succinctly solve a problem. For a long time in the training field (should I have said "space"?) pretty much all training was classroom, face-to-face training. Now, we have classroom, we have live online training, we have self-paced eLearning. We have MOOCs. We have webinars. So we now have to distinguish which type of "training" a person is interested in.
What I'd like to find out about this new jargon of adding an s to training and eLearning* is this: do people use the word "trainings" to refer to classroom classes only? Or to all training of every kind? I'm trying to see what the impetus is for this new usage.
Are other people seeing plural "trainings" everywhere? Does it have a different meaning from "training"? Feel free to post your comments below.
*IconLogic in-house style is to spell eLearning with no hyphen and a capital L, but some organizations spell it with a hyphen. If you have an opinion on this, I'd love to hear it. Are we moving away from the e- words with the capital letters? Was that a passing fad from when e-everything was new and different and radical? Are we normalizing it by moving toward using the hyphen?
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