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Some singular plurals (was: Creating conlang grammars using prototypes)

From:R A Brown <ray@...>
Date:Friday, October 6, 2006, 8:09
Ph.D. wrote:
> R A Brown wrote:
>>True - which is why I say "octopuses" as that what >>others generally say in this neck of the woods. >>FWIW, my dictionary gives as plural: >>{quote} >>*octopuses*, (_arch._) *octopodes* (*octopi* is wrong) >>(/quote} > > Octopuses and Octopi are both rather common in > the United States. In fact this is the first time that I've > heard Octopi to be wrong. FWIW, the American > Heritage College Dictionary, Third Edition 1993, gives > > octopus n., pl. -puses or -pi. [NLat. octopus < Gk. > oktopous, eight-footed]
The dictionaries are clearly reflecting the situation in the respective countries. I note the etymology given is _NLat._, presumably 'New Latin'. The word is indeed not attested in Classical Latin. If the word had been a learned borrowing in classical period from Greek it would undoubtedly have been _octopus_ /okto:pu:s/ with plural _octpodes_ /okto:podes/ [sic - with short _e_], following the Greek pattern. There is in Classical Latin, it is true, _polypus_ with short _u_ which follows the 2nd declension and, therefore, has plural _polypi_ (it seems to refer indifferently to octopuses & cuttlefish). But although this is clearly connected with Classical Greek _polypous_ (many-footed), it is an early colloquial borrowing from the Doric Greek of southern Italy where the word was _polupos_. The actual spelling in Latin with _y_ is due, obviously, to Greek influence; it would have been some sort of schwa sound. The modern Italian, Spanish & Portuguese words for 'octopus' (polpo, pulpo, polvo) indicate the common pronunciation was *polpus. But these Latinate plurals (whether etymologically justified or not) seem to get varying pronunciations in the spoken language. When I was a youngster 'fungi', when used, was ['fVndZaj], but most people then said 'funguses' or 'toadstools' :) But now practically everyman and his dog says 'fungi', but they don't all say it the same way. I hear ['fVndZaj] (not so often now), ['fVNgaj] (second most common), ['fVNgi] (the most common] and ['fVndZi] (probably least common). None, of course, like Latin, whether Classical ['fUNgi:] or ecclesiastical ['fundZi] :) But heck - what's wrong with the 'funguses' of my youth? ============================================= David J. Peterson wrote: [snip] > Ray Brown wrote: > (I assume people who say 'octopi' don't all say 'bi' as the plural of > 'bus' :) > >> > > Uh...they don't? What else would they say? Is there another > plural for "bus" I'm not aware of...? 'Bus' is monosyllabic. Everyone knows monosyllabic words have umlauted plurals, don't they? :) man ~ men goose ~ geese tooth ~ teeth mouse ~ mice house ~ hice moth ~ myth etc. So: bus ~ bys -- Ray ================================== ================================== Nid rhy hen neb i ddysgu. There's none too old to learn. [WELSH PROVERB}


Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>