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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
John Cowan:
> 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 cognitively dominant. 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... --And.


John Cowan <jcowan@...>THEORY/USAGE: irregular English plurals (was: RE: [CONLANG]
Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>THEORY/USAGE: irregular English plurals (was: RE: [CONLANG]
Tristan McLeay <kesuari@...>
Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>THEORY/USAGE: irregular English plurals (was: RE: [CONLANG]
Jan van Steenbergen <ijzeren_jan@...>