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Hello, everyone.

Is there a reason why birdsong cannot be pluralised while birdcalls can?

I tried looking for dictionary definitions online and ended up 'learning' that birdcall can be spelt as two separate words. Collins has birdcall in British English and bird call in American English in one search that I did. But when I did another search, it gave me another page that showed birdcall for BrE and also birdcall (single word) for AmE.

Aiyo! So confusing!

Merriam-Webster's (American dictionary) spells it as a single word--birdcall and has the plural birdcalls in some of the example sentences.

At least the LDOCE was helpful as it clearly tags birdsong as Noun [Uncountable]. Strangely, no results showed up for birdcall/bird call on the LDOCE.

Maybe I've got bad dictionary-searching skills! I'm confused. Would appreciate your help. Thank you so much.

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@gilbert posted:

Hi, MlleSim,

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. Although the dictionaries--some of them, at least--did tag birdsong as uncountable, it didn't quite sink in till you explained it.

I wonder why birdcall didn't follow suit and become a mass noun?

My sincere pleasure, Gilbert.

As for your question, I honestly do not know! Perhaps because "call" has more or less always been used in this construction to refer to the individual cries by birds and never to the "symphony" (or should I say "cacophony") made up of their cries? A birdwatcher or ornithologist would probably provide a more satisfactory answer, though...

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