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I came up (re)phrasing a question like this :

What's so special about directories whose name begins with a dot?

But now, I'm wondering whether this is correct handling of plurals or not. Should the following be preferred?

What's so special about directories whose names begin with a dot?

(In French both are correct and have different meanings — singular suggests that each directory has one name, plural suggests each directory can have several names —, but it might be different in English.)

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As a follow up, how would you convey the meaning in French of the latter statement in English? – YatharthROCK Aug 18 '13 at 11:23
@Yat: I doubt it's possible to convey this meaning in a straightforward way. But you can ask this as a new question. – Stéphane Gimenez Aug 18 '13 at 20:02
up vote 12 down vote accepted

The second is correct in this context. Since whose is referring to the plural directories, it must take a plural noun:

What's so special about directories whose names begin with a dot?

The above holds unless the directories collectively have one name, in which case it would be correct to use name in the singular.

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Ok. So both are correct, but their meanings are different from what I expected! – Stéphane Gimenez Sep 30 '11 at 18:16

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