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The dictionary says that advice can only be used in the singular. But in a specific part of computer science (aspect-oriented programming) this word is used to reference some object that implements some specific functionality. There can be many such objects in the program, and sometimes it's required to say something about a number of them. Is it OK to use advices in this case, or is it absolutely wrong? What is the best solution?

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The object is itself advice? I think you've explained the situation incorrectly. If the object really is the advice (and not something that provides or takes advice), then "advices" would be just fine. (Because in this context, "advice" would be a countable noun since you could have two of them.) But I doubt that's the actual situation. –  David Schwartz Apr 11 '12 at 10:32
Yes, the object is an advice itself. And I want to reference the number of objects each of which is an advice. –  Alexey Berezkin Apr 11 '12 at 10:53
Then you have a context in which "advice" is countable. You can have two of them. So be it. If there was a car called the "Ford Advice", what would you call two of them? –  David Schwartz Apr 11 '12 at 10:53
@AlexeyBerezkin I would actually say that all N objects implement Advice, or at least I would if I were referring to my understanding of Spring. –  user14070 Apr 11 '12 at 12:43
I would say Advice objects in those cases, but I've +1 @mganjoo. –  user14070 Apr 11 '12 at 13:04

13 Answers 13

When I program objects, I usually refer to them as "object instances". For example, "all Dog instances are instructed to bark()" (or something on those lines). You could similarly say "Advice instances". It's clearer (immediately notifies the reader that you're referring to multiple object instances), grammatical, and allows you to format the name of the object differently (as many people do when referring to code components).

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Sometimes we hear the term piece of advice; I suppose this could be pluralized to pieces of advice.

In the context of a program, though, you could refer to objects that provide advice, or, perhaps better yet, objects that advise. In the noun form, maybe use Advice Objects in lieu of Advices.

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So the answer is — the word “advices” is absolutely illiterate, and we have to find some context-specific synonym. Right? –  Alexey Berezkin Apr 11 '12 at 9:33
If your dictionary tells you that "advice" can "only be used in the singular," then you've answered your own question :^) As to applying that English word to aspect-oriented objects, though, maybe it's time for the language to evolve. However, until the dictionary catches up, you might want to simply refer to them as Advice Objects; some may regard Advices as too awkward. –  J.R. Apr 11 '12 at 9:43

Advice is a mass noun, so the concept of plurality doesn't apply (1). In fact, advice is number one on the list of Wikipedia's examples mass nouns.

So just like there's no singular-plural distinction of milk, knowledge, or volatiliy, there's no such distinction in advice.

For your specific case, I'm not familiar with AOP terminology, but from reading Wikipedia articles on the subject, it would appear that the early coiners of terms in AOP ran into the same issue as you are, advice being a mass noun, and used it as a part of a compound noun instead (e.g., advice function or advice bodies) or with counts (e.g., pieces of advice).

I personally see no problem with you coining a new use of advice as a count noun as a shorter version of advice function. If you and your colleagues agree to use that terminology, go ahead; it may even spread.

  1. It does tend to align with singular forms in paradigms, like subject-verb agreement (the advice is good vs. *the advice are good) and pronominal agreement (listen to his advice; it's helpful vs. *listen to his advice, they are helpful). This does not necessarily mean that we can call mass nouns "always singular", though.
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I think "advices" is perfectly okay, since we're talking jargon here.

If you look at the PostSharp documentation (a popular .NET aspect-oriented framework), you'll see a namespace called PostSharp.Aspects.Advices. Google searches for "advices" coupled with other tools like AspectJ also show that it's common usage.

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Thanks. I use Java and Spring, where the word Advisor(s) is used, and Advice in plural is avoided. –  Alexey Berezkin Apr 11 '12 at 11:43
One thing to note is that the PostSharp developers are in the Czech Republic and so they may not hear advices in the same way as a BrEnglish or AmEnglish speaker might hear it. –  horatio Apr 11 '12 at 19:08

this word is used to reference some object that implements some specific functionality.

I.e., that provides advice? Then it is an advisor, plural advisors.

(Otherwise, why does the term "advice" apply at all?)

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Well, that's the question. Do these objects provide advice? Or are they themselves advices? If it really is the latter, then so be it. But that seems unlikely. –  David Schwartz Apr 11 '12 at 10:34
@KarlKnetchel: the advisor is the object that contains advice (action to take at pointcut) and some other properties (link). Advice is the action itself. –  Alexey Berezkin Apr 11 '12 at 10:50

I would simply say "advice objects."

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:P +1 for making my comment an answer –  user14070 Apr 11 '12 at 15:54
I think we had the same idea at the same time—I honestly had no idea you posted that comment. Thanks though! –  zpletan Apr 11 '12 at 15:56
Absolutely no worries. Just couldn't resist. –  user14070 Apr 11 '12 at 15:58
+1 because he's coming from a CS/programming perspective, and this is the only one that makes sense. You'd likewise talk about car objects, house objects, and so on. –  Izkata Apr 11 '12 at 16:24

The British linguist David Crystal suggests here that the English of native speakers is being influenced by the English of non-native speakers to the extent that words like advice, commonly thought of as being uncountable, are now occurring in the plural in native speech.

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Thanks, very interesting. –  Alexey Berezkin Apr 11 '12 at 11:41

List of objects that implement advise , or in OOP if you are using interfaces one can say the list of classes that implement the IAdvice interface, or T : List< IAdvice > (psudo code).

then you can be more specific e.g.

Set of all the T's or Set of some of the T's

Mixing the language of set theory would give you more control over the range of T classes/categories/sets you want.

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I always considered advice a quantity noun. In other words, it is inherently plural. Hence the phrase "piece of advice" is an attempt to pick an individial item out of what would otherwise be considered a continuous stream.

Perhaps this is just an artifact of how I generally get talked to. :-)

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I would have thought that an object that carries advice would be an advisory. From there, advisories.

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Almost all of these answers are coming from the wrong direction. To quote the relevant part of the question (with emphasis added by me):

But in a specific part of computer science (aspect-oriented programming) this word is used to reference some object that implements some specific functionality. There can be many such objects in the program, and sometimes it's required to say something about a number of them.

Most answers here are talking about many pieces of advice and coming up with a single word for it. But the question is asking about object instances that contain advice, so the only real answer, without getting the data in the objects confused with the objects, is advice objects.

Now, if the asker is intending to come up with one object that contains many advice objects, the best way to name it would be to take advantage of another programming convention and call it something like advice collection.

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You need a partitive noun like "bit" or "item" followed by "of". If I'm not mistaken, "item" is usually used with abstract noncount nouns, but I've definitely heard examples with "bit" on BBC.

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I looked into AOP a little bit with my under-qualified eye and I see that in the documentation for various frameworks (such as Spring), the authors never use a plural form. This is important, because this is "jargon" (specialized language) and words and usages can be created which are considered wrong in normal usage. The documentation writers haven't seen fit to break with normal usage.

However, I think your examples give an insight to the use of advice objects: they can be ignored. I would rewrite your examples (which are not quite grammatical to begin with BTW):

“If we use proxied reference to data accessing object, then all its advices are applied.”

If we use a proxied reference to the data accessing object, then all of the advice types are executed.

"If we use unproxied reference to the object, none of advices is applied.”

If we use an unproxied reference to the object, then none of the advice types are executed.

EDIT: Use of a capital letter might "buy you a pass" since it would be a signal to the reader that the word is to be accepted as a proper name:

If we use an unproxied reference to the object, then none of the Advices are applied.

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Yes, you're right, in Spring documentation “Advices” word is not used. But .NET guys even created the namespace named Advices, plz see some other answers. –  Alexey Berezkin Apr 11 '12 at 17:29
I think that "jargon" gives a pass for many things otherwise unacceptable in normal speech. Consider "boxen" ( catb.org/jargon/html/B/boxen.html ) which, though fanciful is well-understood within computing circles. Note that one way that you can work with the pluralization is to use a capital A (Advices). This is especially true with case-sensitive languages. –  horatio Apr 11 '12 at 19:01

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