06 July 2011


In my previous post, I discussed the occurrence of fruits, specifically whether the plural noun might occur in Inner-Circle countries such as Australia; and I considered evidence from Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne.

One other pattern I have previously discussed in Brunei (e.g. here) is the use of piece (sometimes reduced to pc) to refer to count nouns, as in the image on the right, which shows the price of apples in a Brunei supermarket.

It is interesting to see whether this use of piece also occurs in Australia. Here are a range of price signs for fruit and vegetables in Queen Victoria Market:It seems that each (sometimes reduced to ea) occurs instead of piece.

However, I suspect that the use of piece may prevail in World Englishes, partly because it is simpler. Note that in the Brunei sign, the same pattern is used whether it is for one item or for more; so we have "$1.19 /pc" and also "$5.60 /5pcs". In contrast, the each pattern is only used for one item. For more than one, you have to use for, and the sentence pattern is quite different:Note that the second, third and fourth images contrast these two patterns.

The use of piece(s) is simplifying, and this is exactly the sort of pattern that seems to get adopted in World Englishes.

However, there is as yet no evidence of it being adopted in Australia. Maybe it is only common in places where the indigenous languages have measure words, such as buah in Malay or δΈͺ in Chinese.