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The lyrics of Jingle Bell Rock goes:

Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock
Jingle bells swing and jingle bells ring...

I wonder why the 'bell' in 'Jingle bell rock' is singular yet it's 'rock' and not 'rocks'.

And then why is 'Jingle bells swing' not 'Jingle bell ring' or 'Jingle bell rings'?

Any reason why are the singularity and plurality inconsistent?

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  • They're poets they've got especially no reason/grammar to write ◠‿◕.
    – lee
    Dec 19, 2020 at 9:43

2 Answers 2

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Jingle-bell is a compound noun, it can be plural or singular.

In the first phrase you have a noun "rock" being modified by an adjunct noun "jingle-bell". "Jingle-bell rock" isn't a sentence, nor is it a clause, as there is no verb. It is a headline meaning "This is 'jingle-bell' rock(-and-roll)"

The second line then uses "subject verb" sentences, with plural subject "jingle-bells" and a verb in simple present "ring".

We tend to use singular for noun adjuncts, for example, "chicken soup" not "chickens soup".

Here is a song by me

Chicken soup, chicken soup
Chickens go in the pot
For my chicken soup.

My chicken runs away
From me today
'Cos I want some chicken soup!

That isn't a great song... but notice that "chicken soup" is a singular noun-noun phrase, not a "subject verb" clause. But "Chickens go" and "my chicken runs" are both examples of "subject-verb". This is the same as "jingle-bell rock"

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  • Nice song! Is it available on iTunes? ;-) Dec 19, 2020 at 9:40
  • 1
    Still working on the melody
    – James K
    Dec 19, 2020 at 9:41
  • You never know, it could rival Baby Shark! (doo doo ta doo-doo do) Dec 19, 2020 at 9:42
  • Thank you very much! I am both educated and entertained XD Dec 19, 2020 at 11:02
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I think you're assuming that 'rock' is synonymous with 'swing' which, in some contexts, are i.e., both can mean to sway from side to side.

However, both 'rock' and 'swing' are names for genres of music. We don't pluralise these - for example:

"I like rock music"

It means that you like lots of different music that falls under that genre.

I believe the title of the song 'Jingle Bell Rock' is a reference to rock music, based on the fact that the lyrics refer to another song 'Rock around the Clock'. It would seem that the line "jingle bell rock" is referring to the music, while the lines in which the bells (plural) 'swing' and 'ring', is a description of bells actually ringing.

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    +1: this should be the accepted answer, since it directly addresses the key point that "rock" here is a noun (the genre) rather than a verb.
    – TypeIA
    Dec 19, 2020 at 18:01
  • When you think about it in what way is rock music like stones? Unless you're talking about one of the several rock groups with stone in their names.
    – cyborg
    Dec 19, 2020 at 18:53

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