From plural to singular?

My colleague from the Dutch department, Marijke van der Wal, came across an intreaguing point in her reaearch on nineteenth-century grammars of Dutch, and she would like to know whether there are similar instances in English grammars or grammars for other languages. Please let us have your findings on this, even if you never came across the kind of approach to grammar.

Does anyone know of a grammar or language manual in which the plural is presented as the default form? In such a case language learners follow the easy rule: skip the plural suffix and you find the singular form. I found one 19th-century Dutch case and I would like to know if there are more, for other languages perhaps.

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  1. TPO

    Many learners of Swedish learn the plural forms of nouns first and then learn how to remove the endings, as this is simpler than learning a noun by itself then learning what suffix and/or other changes need to be made for the plural.

  2. R. Straaijer

    I have had a look at some of the English grammars that I have studying, those of the grammarian Joseph Priestley
    (1761 and 1768), the grammar prefixed to Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary (1755) and also John Ward’s Four Essays upon
    the English Language (1758). None of them have the plural as the stem form of the noun (substantive).

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