The Free Dictionary  
mailing list For webmasters
Welcome Guest Forum Search | Active Topics | Members

Have you ever wondered... Options
risadr
Posted: Monday, March 16, 2009 2:35:39 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/16/2009
Posts: 1,155
Neurons: 3,545
Location: PA, United States
...why the plural of "goose" is "geese," but the plural of "moose" isn't "meese?"

Discuss.
risadr
Posted: Monday, March 16, 2009 2:41:33 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/16/2009
Posts: 1,155
Neurons: 3,545
Location: PA, United States
Another one to ponder:

The plural of "house" is "houses," and the plural of "spouse" is "spouses," but the plural of "mouse" is not "mouses." Think
NickS
Posted: Monday, March 16, 2009 3:07:09 PM

Rank: Administration

Joined: 3/6/2009
Posts: 22
My language teacher loved to say that the language is not something to understand, it is something to memorize.
tfrank
Posted: Monday, March 16, 2009 5:17:42 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/16/2009
Posts: 73
Neurons: 219
Location: Pennsylvania
I actually find myself wanting to refer to computer mouses as mice.
Demosth
Posted: Monday, March 16, 2009 5:38:03 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/15/2009
Posts: 67
Neurons: 190
Location: United States
Oh man, what a headache. It's no wonder people have such a hard time learning English as a second language. Brick wall
Tamara
Posted: Monday, March 16, 2009 6:50:57 PM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 3/16/2009
Posts: 6
Neurons: 18
Location: Australia
I'll second that. And that's before you take into account all the ways that people colloqualize (I'm not sure that's even a word!) the English language. I've just moved to Australia and keep coming across words that make me do a double take. I've noticed that some Australians pluralize you to "yous" when they're talking to more than one person. It drives me crazy. I don't envy anyone who has to learn English as a second language!
krmiller
Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 6:50:37 PM
Rank: Administration

Joined: 3/17/2009
Posts: 217
Neurons: 663
Location: United States
Because English is a wonderful, crazy, beautiful, nonsensical, patchwork language.


Tamara wrote:
I've noticed that some Australians pluralize you to "yous" when they're talking to more than one person. It drives me crazy.


Plenty of Americans do that too! Most notably stereotypical TV gangsters. Let's see, what plural "you" Americanisms can I think of? "You guys" (that's two words, but it's still a plural "you"), "yins," "y'all," "youse," "all y'all," "youse guys"...
Citiwoman
Posted: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 12:44:08 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/16/2009
Posts: 31
Neurons: 93
Location: United States
But the plural of louse is lice! Is the plural of fish "fish" or "fishes?"

On another subject: In reference to the capital punishment of hanging, is the past tense always "hanged?" Is it incorrect to say "hung" in that instance?
bewusstlos
Posted: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 2:25:15 AM
Rank: Member

Joined: 3/18/2009
Posts: 20
Location: India
Citiwoman wrote:
But the plural of louse is lice! Is the plural of fish "fish" or "fishes?"

On another subject: In reference to the capital punishment of hanging, is the past tense always "hanged?" Is it incorrect to say "hung" in that instance?

I'd say "fish" is the formal plural, while "fishes" is often used informally.

As for "hung" and "hanged", I like to think it's "hanged" in this context.

bewusstlos.
Demosth
Posted: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 3:52:16 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/15/2009
Posts: 67
Neurons: 190
Location: United States
bewusstlos wrote:
I'd say "fish" is the formal plural, while "fishes" is often used informally.

As for "hung" and "hanged", I like to think it's "hanged" in this context.


That's right.

I was always told that it is "hanged" when someone is "hanged by the neck until dead" -- hung is for everything else.

"Fish" is of course both singular and plural as it is. My past teachers would have thrown a fit if ever used "fishes" for anything.
risadr
Posted: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 3:12:24 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/16/2009
Posts: 1,155
Neurons: 3,545
Location: PA, United States
I like words that retain their singular form in the plural: fish, deer, etc. They make me smile.
kaliedel
Posted: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 4:19:58 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/16/2009
Posts: 340
Neurons: 1,029
Location: United States
I say we start rebelling grammatically and find ways to use the words "meese" and/or "mooses" in conversation.
krmiller
Posted: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 10:51:19 PM
Rank: Administration

Joined: 3/17/2009
Posts: 217
Neurons: 663
Location: United States
Adding my voice to confirm that "hanged" refers to the hanging of a person and "hung" is for everything else.

And to quote Lewis Carrol:
Quote:
How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!
zigzag
Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2009 4:57:52 AM
Rank: Member

Joined: 3/18/2009
Posts: 18
Location: libya
Simply I'd say that is because it is irrigularform of plural.

I believe that fish and fishes is like water and waters, that is, depends on your usage of the word.
If you are talking about kinds of fish you can say fishes like when you talk about international waters or types of water so you can simply make it in the plural form.
risadr
Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2009 10:57:59 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/16/2009
Posts: 1,155
Neurons: 3,545
Location: PA, United States
kaliedel wrote:
I say we start rebelling grammatically and find ways to use the words "meese" and/or "mooses" in conversation.


I could definitely get behind this idea! I try to use an incorrect plural at least once a day and see if anyone notices. Usually, my husband calls me on it, but sometimes he doesn't even realize it.
kaliedel
Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2009 3:29:02 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/16/2009
Posts: 340
Neurons: 1,029
Location: United States
I just realized that the word "juice" is used much in the same way, at least as far as I know. I can't recall anyone ever properly using "juices" in a plural sense. Ex., "Hey, that's a whole lot of juices right there." Verbage, yes ("juices/juicing an orange"), but never in noun form.

It seems there's something about the whole "oose/uice" sound that English tiptoes around.
Drew
Posted: Sunday, March 22, 2009 6:43:43 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/17/2009
Posts: 1,503
Neurons: 4,487
Location: United States
The plural of ox becomes oxen. That's a rule that I've always found extremely odd.
Drew
Posted: Monday, March 23, 2009 11:50:28 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/17/2009
Posts: 1,503
Neurons: 4,487
Location: United States
risadr wrote:
I like words that retain their singular form in the plural: fish, deer, etc. They make me smile.


Also: corps, chassis, moose, sheep. All of these words are the same in singular form as they are in plural.
Betsy D.
Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 9:52:23 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/18/2009
Posts: 193
Neurons: 558
Location: Pennsylvania
tfrank wrote:
I actually find myself wanting to refer to computer mouses as mice.


Actually, all the IT folks I know *do* refer to them as mice :)
Betsy D.
Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 9:55:15 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/18/2009
Posts: 193
Neurons: 558
Location: Pennsylvania
kaliedel wrote:
I say we start rebelling grammatically and find ways to use the words "meese" and/or "mooses" in conversation.


Teehee...you start - I'll be right beside ya! A little whimsy is a beautiful thing. So, people will look at you like you have five heads, but when did that ever stop a rebel? Whistle
risadr
Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 11:03:22 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/16/2009
Posts: 1,155
Neurons: 3,545
Location: PA, United States
Does anyone know the correct plural form of octopus or hippopotamus? I always avoid referring to these things in groups, because I never know what to call them.
kaliedel
Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 3:40:25 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/16/2009
Posts: 340
Neurons: 1,029
Location: United States
risadr wrote:
Does anyone know the correct plural form of octopus or hippopotamus? I always avoid referring to these things in groups, because I never know what to call them.


I actually have no idea what the plural is - isn't that strange? I'm tempted to say "octopi" and "hippopotami," but I'm hesitant to even try in conversation.
risadr
Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 8:58:49 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/16/2009
Posts: 1,155
Neurons: 3,545
Location: PA, United States
kaliedel wrote:
risadr wrote:
Does anyone know the correct plural form of octopus or hippopotamus? I always avoid referring to these things in groups, because I never know what to call them.


I actually have no idea what the plural is - isn't that strange? I'm tempted to say "octopi" and "hippopotami," but I'm hesitant to even try in conversation.


That is exactly why I don't!

I'm also baffled as to why the plural of "octopus" isn't "octopus" (at least, I don't think that it is), but the plural of "squid" is "squid." Curious little arthropods...
bewusstlos
Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 12:14:30 PM
Rank: Member

Joined: 3/18/2009
Posts: 20
Location: India
My Collins Concise Dictionary says its octopuses, and both hippopotamuses and hippopotami.
kaliedel
Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 4:23:23 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/16/2009
Posts: 340
Neurons: 1,029
Location: United States
Aren't octopus(es) solitary creatures? I wonder if that has something to do with our lack of familiarity with the plural term - you don't often see them in large groups. Then again, hippopotamuses(eseseses) live in large groups, so who knows?
grunt grass
Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 10:54:31 PM
Rank: Member

Joined: 3/23/2009
Posts: 10
Neurons: 33
Location: China
NickS wrote:
My language teacher loved to say that the language is not something to understand, it is something to memorize.



it's true.
Wanderer
Posted: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 11:00:52 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/6/2010
Posts: 1,546
Neurons: 78,988
You need to learn etymology. This is the part of the dictionary definition that is usually at the end of an entry and in parenthesis, italics and abbreviations. It tells you about the origins of that word. It helps when you are trying to decide things like is tend or attend correct. You look to the root word tend and discover it's original meaning and how it is used in others words like pretend, attend or extend. It's fascinating to me. Did you know (correct me if I'm wrong) the smaller the word the older it is?
thar
Posted: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 11:04:28 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 21,936
Neurons: 89,028
Demosth wrote:
[quote=bewusstlos]

"Fish" is of course both singular and plural as it is. My past teachers would have thrown a fit if ever used "fishes" for anything.


So the Bible with the loaves and fishes is wrong? It is just more poetical.
schrodinger's cat
Posted: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 2:06:32 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/12/2010
Posts: 639
Neurons: 1,977
Location: Slovenia
thar wrote:
Demosth wrote:
[quote=bewusstlos]

"Fish" is of course both singular and plural as it is. My past teachers would have thrown a fit if ever used "fishes" for anything.


So the Bible with the loaves and fishes is wrong? It is just more poetical.



Not so. Both "fish" and "fishes" can be used as a plural of "fish", however there is a difference of meaning.

Ex.: He caught two fish.
He caught two trout.


This would be the more common use. Note how "trout" also has the same form for singular and plural. Some fish do, some fish don't (and have the regular plural). If you're not sure, you should look it up.


Ex.: He caught two fishes.
He caught two trouts.


This is also a correct usage, however it denotes that the fish were of different types. That is, two different kinds of trout in the second case and two different types of fish in the first case. For example, a trout and a salmon.
teacherwoman
Posted: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 3:50:22 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/19/2009
Posts: 150
Neurons: 485
risadr wrote:
...why the plural of "goose" is "geese," but the plural of "moose" isn't "meese?"

Discuss.



mice, lice, geese, breeches, teeth and feet are Old English irregular plurals. They are called "mutated plurals". They are remnants of even older declensional patterns - they survived language change probably because they were used so often that they escaped being conformed to the emerging Modern English patterns.

One of these old words that used to have a mutated plural was "book" (Old English: boc - pl. bec).

The word moose does not have an Indo-European root, so no old inflectional patterns here. See etymology of moose
grammargeek
Posted: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 3:52:18 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/21/2009
Posts: 11,136
Neurons: 33,836
Location: Arizona, U.S.
risadr wrote:
I'm also baffled as to why the plural of "octopus" isn't "octopus" (at least, I don't think that it is), but the plural of "squid" is "squid." Curious little arthropods...

The plural of squid can be squid or squids. My boyfriend used to refer to his two young sons as the squids instead of the kids. He was big into fish and anything having to do with marine life, but I thought his choice of a pet word for the kids was apropos, beyond rhyming a word from a favorite subject. If you think about it, kids are sometimes screaming, squeaking, squealing, slippery little things.

risadr also wrote:
I like words that retain their singular form in the plural: fish, deer, etc. They make me smile.

Add aspirin to that list. Well, actually the dictionary says the plural of aspirin can be (first) aspirin or alternatively, aspirins. But whenever I hear aspirins, it really gets on my nerves. edit: How ironic!

We haven't seen you in these parts lately, risadr. I hope all is well with you, and if you read this post, I hope it made you smile.
JPK
Posted: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 4:19:54 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/13/2009
Posts: 644
Neurons: 1,998
Location: Canada
grammargeek wrote:
Add aspirin to that list. Well, actually the dictionary says the plural of aspirin can be (first) aspirin or alternatively, aspirins. But whenever I hear aspirins, it really gets on my nerves.


What about aspirae?

Sorry, I like making fake latin-sounding plurals even if they completely destroy the pluralization rules. I would apologize to Latin speakers around the world, but they seem to be few and far between.
teacherwoman
Posted: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 4:20:56 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/19/2009
Posts: 150
Neurons: 485
risadr wrote:
Does anyone know the correct plural form of octopus or hippopotamus? I always avoid referring to these things in groups, because I never know what to call them.


Octopus in itself is a strange word. Literally, it means eight foot - but once you've got eight of them shouldn't it be feet, anyways?

teacherwoman
Posted: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 4:23:35 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/19/2009
Posts: 150
Neurons: 485
JPK wrote:
grammargeek wrote:
Add aspirin to that list. Well, actually the dictionary says the plural of aspirin can be (first) aspirin or alternatively, aspirins. But whenever I hear aspirins, it really gets on my nerves.


What about aspirae?

Sorry, I like making fake latin-sounding plurals even if they completely destroy the pluralization rules. I would apologize to Latin speakers around the world, but they seem to be few and far between.


aspirines
(-es is the regular Latin plural for words ending in a consonant)
excaelis
Posted: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 6:29:40 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/30/2010
Posts: 10,965
Neurons: 32,652
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Both 'octopus' and 'hippopotamus' are Greek, so whatever the Greek plural form is would, I suppose, be correct. 'Oxen', being an old Germanic plural, is in the same group as 'brethren' and 'children'. 'House' pluralised as 'housen' in Early Modern English into the 16th century. The 's' plural that we are accustomed to came from Northern English dialects during the later middle ages. Shakespeare used both forms interchangeably, which leads one to suppose that at that time there was varied usage. I was always brought up to believe, correctly or not, that people are hanged, but objects (including animals and juries) are hung. Maybe GG should switch to Tylenol? (less of a headache, grammatically).
Users browsing this topic
Guest


Forum Jump
You cannot post new topics in this forum.
You cannot reply to topics in this forum.
You cannot delete your posts in this forum.
You cannot edit your posts in this forum.
You cannot create polls in this forum.
You cannot vote in polls in this forum.