D. Claude Katz (dclaudekatz) wrote in linguaphiles,
D. Claude Katz

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Why is there no singular for "biscotti"?

I can understand why there's no singular for "spaghetti"; after all, who would want to talk about a single strand of spaghetti ("uno spaghetto"?).  But biscotti are by their nature discrete.  The English cognate "biscuit" is singular, as are English words with similar meanings, such as "cookie."  So why not "un biscotto"?  And anyhow, what is the correct way to refer to a singular item of the nature of biscotti?  If you want more than one, you can say, "I would like some biscotti" or "Vorrei dei biscotti" (assuming my Italian is correct).  But what if you only want one?  People say, "I'll have a biscotti," but in Italian that wouldn't make sense, "Vorrei un biscotti":  you can't have a singular article with a plural noun.  It would be like saying, "I'll have a cookies" in English.  But I have never heard the word "biscotto."
Tags: english, italian, plural

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