savings as singular noun - American English?

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Biffo

Senior Member
English - England
Hello
A while back I saw the movie Galaxy Quest (1999).

In the film, Alan Rickman (dressed as an alien) was at one point promoting a new computer store. He had a line that went as follows:

"By Grabthar's hammer, what a savings." *
http://www.scifiscripts.com/scripts/GalaxyQuest.txt


The use of the singular article with the plural 'savings' grated on my British ear. I would have preferred
"By Grabthar's hammer, what a saving."

Question
Is this use of 'savings' (plural) purely AmE?
Is it universally used throughout the US?

______________________________________________
* Note - You can find the relevant page in the script by searching for the fifth occurrence of Grabthar
 
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  • Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Is this use of 'savings' (plural) purely AmE?
    Don't know. I gather that it's definitely not standard BE.

    Is it universally used throughout the US?
    As far as I know, yes, since it's used in national TV spots.

    Further thought: I'm not so sure it's thought of as "plural"; rather, uncountable.
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    I make that the fifth occurrence of Grabthar, by the way. Is it clear that the character's not speaking alien? (Cross-posted with Parla who has answered definitively):)
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I make that the fifth occurrence of Grabthar, by the way. Is it clear that the character's not speaking alien? (Cross-posted with Parla who has answered definitively):)
    Thanks, it was the fifth occurrence. I've edited it.

    Yes it is clear that he is speaking non-alien English. He doesn't affect any kind of accent. He just uses Alan Rickmanesque RP throughout. He does however cringe when he says the line. (Although that is probably partly to do with his character's disgust at being reduced to a sales-promotion role)
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Don't know. I gather that it's definitely not standard BE.


    As far as I know, yes, since it's used in national TV spots.

    Further thought: I'm not so sure it's thought of as "plural"; rather, uncountable.
    So could I say (in AmE)

    "I bought a fantastic pair of shoes yesterday at half-price. Wasn't that a good savings?"

    ?
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    No, you wouldn't say that. You could say "That was a substantial savings." or "That was a good price."

    You could say, "That was a savings of $35.00."

    The Free Dictionary's definition of saving includes this usage note:
    Usage Note: Traditionalists state that one should use the form a saving when referring to an amount of money that is saved. Indeed, that is the form English speakers outside of the United States normally use. In the United States the plural form a savings is widely used with a singular verb (as in A savings of $50 is most welcome); nonetheless, 57 percent of the Usage Panel find it unacceptable.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hmmm. Note that our version of British Summer Time is called "Daylight Saving Time" officially, but the erroneous use, "Daylight Savings Time", is rampant.

    See: Daylight saving/savings time for a discussion of one forero's rude awakening.
    It's interesting to see an example that is backed up by an official body.

    I have added a post #6 to the Daylight saving/savings time thread. Google Ngram shows an interesting phenomenon around the year 1998.
     
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