How many savingses can we take advantage of?

Americans enjoy yet another savings

Conrad Weisert, May 26, 2015

"The savings is much higher today."
—Lloyd Constantine, The New York Times opinion pages, October 6, 2011
"A huge SAVINGS off the newsstand rate"
—subscription renewal notice from The Nation magazine.

I ran those through Microsoft's grammar checker: no objection!

I have and consult several reference books on English usage that clearly label those as solecisms. None of my dictionaries mentions "savings" as a singular noun at all, except for the 2001 Encarta, which warns

" . . . .savings is commonly used with a singular verb to mean 'a specific amount of money not spent,' as in A savings of $3000 was gained . . . You should keep in mind, though, that some people still prefer saving in the singular in this context."

"Some people still prefer"? Am I the only one who finds that ungrammatical and illogical usage jarring and an indication of the writer's (and the publisher's) ignorance? What ever happened to New York Times copy editors? Is there some useful shade of meaning conveyed by the new usage that would be lost by the orthodox one?

"Savings" as a singular noun originated in the advertising trade, especially in radio commercials. Americans have heard it so often that it no longer shocks many of us. But the rest of the English-speaking world still considers that an unnecessary violation of our language and of common logic. What shade of meaning is conveyed by The Nation above that isn't just as clearly expressed by "A huge SAVING . . . ."?


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Last modified May 26, 2015