The words speaker and hearer are countable nouns according to the Cambridge Dictionary. And a countable noun should either used plural or be with an article.

But I see many use these words without any article in the singular form. For example see:

It is very plausible that this transfer of thought contents from speaker to hearer is a necessary condition for successful communication. Source

So, my question is, can a countable noun become uncountable just by our usage?

  • 1
    It just became anarthrous, not uncountable. Like the expression "Big deal!" doesn't make "deal" uncountable, just anarthrous. – David Schwartz Oct 15 '17 at 21:24
  • 1
    @DavidSchwartz Arguably one could say that the article has been elided. "...transfer of thoughts content from (a) speaker to (a) hearer..." – WS2 Oct 15 '17 at 21:32
  • 1
    @WS2 I think so. Just like "Big deal!" is probably just a shortening of "That's a big deal". There are many cases where English permits you to omit words when there's no chance of confusion. – David Schwartz Oct 15 '17 at 21:35
  • 1
    ' ... a countable noun should either used [in plural form] or be [used] with an article' is a woeful oversimplification. See the thread in the 'duplicate' call, and Can predicative complements not be bare noun phrases in English – ..., for instance. There are many expressions, some more fixed than others (and countability hard to determine with some), where no articles are used. From hand to mouth / from parent to child / from cow to cow .... – Edwin Ashworth Oct 15 '17 at 22:31
  • 2