If you don't hang out with millennial hipsters, you might not have noticed that the cool kids are listening to music on turntables playing old-fashioned vinyl records, with many of these records being newly released rather than rescued from thrift shops. And you might also have missed a fascinating case of peeve emergence: the "rule" that one of these objects is called a "vinyl", while (say) three of them should be called "three vinyl", never "three vinyls". According to this"rule", instead of "many of these records", I could have written "many of these vinyl", but not "many of these vinyls". This is an issue that some people feel very strongly about.
Thus Dave Segal, "What Is the Plural of Vinyl?", 12/28/2010:
This issue came to my attention twice yesterday: once on Twitter, where someone griped about people using the term "vinyls" to describe more than one record; the other instance occurred while perusing Sonic Boom's holiday zine, in which a clerk informed its readers that vinyl is indeed the plural term for vinyl (the same principle applies to fish, buffalo, and sperm).
I am guilty of occasionally using vinyls, but it's always deployed in a tongue-in-cheek manner. When you know the rules, you can break them—but only once every three months. It's in the manual. Trust me.
"The plural of vinyl is vinyl", Drowned in Sound 2/23/2012:
Just a heads-up, so you can stop saying/typing "vinyls". Cos doing so makes you sound like you buy your music exclusively from Urban Outfitters.
No need to apologise. We've all been out of our depth at one point or other. And we learn from our mistakes, yeah?
Some other plural options: records, LPs, albums, vinyl records.
This has been a public service announcement. Thank you for your avoidance of this increasingly widespread "vinyls" wrongness.
having a bit of an argument with someone that has only just started buying records that the plural of vinyl is vinyl. not vinyls. but he went to uni and is about 20 so obviously he is right. anything i can say to shut him up? is vinyls a real word?
"Amputechture vinyls", The Comatorium 5/11/2012:
Man, I hate to be the school marm but… "Vinyls" is not a word. The plural of vinyl is "vinyl" like deer is the word for multiple deer. Or you could say records. Not trying to be a jerk, just educating. I've been on some forums where people are tarred & feathered for saying "vinyls."
How many vinyls do you have?
The plural of "vinyl" is "vinyl". To answer the previous question, though, we have about 12,000 LPs in stock, as well as some assorted 12″ singles and 45s.
Comment on unkut.com:
That’s cool man. I’m a wax fiend too. But just so you know there is no such word as “vinyls.” The plural of vinyl happens to be vinyl and I’ve never heard someone with a vinyl collection use the term “vinyls.” Usually its some mp3 downloading kid who has never held a record in their life saying this incorrect and highly frustrating word.
And so on, and on, and on.
There's even a eponymous web site thepluralofvinyl.com — which would be more convincing if it didn't misspell "independent":
Show your support in the fight against vinyls with a plural of vinyl shirt, available at your local independant [sic] record store …
This is a lovely peevological case study. In the first place, of course, the "rule" is a doubtful one at best. Vinyl is a mass noun, like beer or cheese or glass, and as such, it doesn't have a plural. Not having a plural is basically what being a "mass noun" means — a mass noun refers to stuff that comes in variable but conceptually undifferentiated quantities that are measured rather than counted.
But English also has a general morphological process that Arnold Zwicky has called "Countification", whereby the plural form of a mass noun can be used to refer to more than one type or instance of the named category of stuff. Thus we can talk about "Mexican beers" to refer to brands of beer associated with Mexico; and you can give your order to a waiter by saying "two beers".
Countification has become lexicalized in the case of some mass nouns, like beers, wines, cheeses, waters, bronzes, rubbers, and so on.. But it's available in principle for pretty much any mass noun, where NOUNs might be used to mean "types of NOUN" or "instances of NOUN". Thus (members of the gang aside) blood doesn't have a common countified plural bloods, but the 1854 Notes of M. Bernard's Lectures on the Blood tells us that "All the analyses already given have been general, as others will be given hereafter when the blood of particular parts, or when particular bloods are described"; and also that "… in this respect all bloods do not resemble each other"; and that "The distinction of color does not exist in the foetus; in it both bloods [i.e. arterial and venous] have exactly the same tint". You may be able to think of a mass noun that can't plausibly be countified, but I haven't come up with one.
What about the zero-plurals like deer, fish, sheep, shrimp, etc.? Does vinyl belong in that group? As far as I know, the only significant regularity there is the zero-plural-for-game-animals pattern discussed in "The European Council legislates English morphology", 10/5/2003; "We have deer and elk and bear and mice around here", 5/26/2004; "Psycholinguistics in the logging industry", 6/6/2004; "Chad back in the news", 5/30/2008. But vinyl records are not exactly game animals; except that maybe, on second thought, the folks who administer tar and feathers to users of "vinyls" are also people who hang a brace of vinyl on their wall as a sort of hunting trophy.
Another pocket of regularly zero-plural nouns is ethnonyms in -ese: Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese – vinyl is clearly not a member of that group. And there are a few zero-plural units of currency: yen, yuan, rand, … Beyond that, there are sporadic examples like cannon and aircraft.
So "the plural of vinyl is 'vinyl'" is an invented "rule", more or less the opposite of the general patterns in the language, which a convinced minority has promoted to the point where "people are tarred and feathered for saying 'vinyls'" in some settings. This is an unusually pure case of peevological emergence, without either tradition or logic on its side, and also (as far as i can tell) without any single authoritative figure behind the idea.