The first time I noticed someone using “youth” as a plural (meaning “young people,” as opposed to “youths”) was a man in his 50s at a fair in Missoula, Montana in 2012 (he told me: “it’s ‘many youth’ like ‘many moose’”). The next time was in a recording of Lakota folktales made in 2013 or so (the speaker was also male also sounded 40 or 50). Then, today, I read this news article, which says “
they met with youth participating in project.”
Obviously there’s at least one typo in that sentence, but a look at the Ngrams confirms that youth is replacing youths.
Why might this be? Is it just that “youths” is hard to say? And “it’s ‘many youth’ like ‘many moose’” is funny and sticks in the mind? This is quite important 🙂
Possibly a downstream effect of “the youth” referring to the plural form.
There is a problem with the cars of today
There is a problem with the youth of today