USAGE: THEORY/USAGE: irregular English plurals (was: RE: [CONLANG] Optimum number of symbols
|From:||And Rosta <a-rosta@...>|
|Date:||Monday, May 20, 2002, 22:55|
> Kendra scripsit:
> > [T]hough off the top of my head, I can
> > only think of a few irregular plural words in english (men, women,
> > children.)
> There are about 35 irregular noun plurals, plus an indefinite number of
> Greek and Latin words still carrying plurals in -ae, -i, -a, -es, -ta.
> Here's a list of all the common ones:
> man:men, woman:women, foot:feet, goose:geese, tooth:teeth, mouse:mice,
> child:children, ox:oxen, fish:fish, shrimp:shrimp, deer:deer, sheep:sheep,
> moose:moose, elk:elk, salmon:salmon, herring:herring, bison:bison,
> calf:calves, half:halves, hoof:hooves, elf:elves, knife:knives,
> life:lives, wife:wives, loaf:loaves, self:selves, shelf:shelves,
> thief:thieves, leaf:leaves, scarf:scarves, wolf:wolves.
Of these, the f/v alternants are like verbs with monosyllabic -in(g)
stems, in that the irregular pattern is statistically and perhaps
As for animals, the bare plurals are arguably regular, due to a
productive rule saying that nouns denoting animals of a certain type
(huntable?) take bare plurals; certainly the list is open-ended, a
telltale sign of productivity.
As for the rest of the list, _oxen_ is obsolescent, being replaced
by _oxes_, which leaves just man:men, woman:women, foot:feet, goose:geese,
tooth:teeth, mouse:mice, child:children, and, arguably, person:people,
as the utter irregulars among the indigenes...
So the near-blank Kendra drew was not far off the mark...