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Foreign Plurals (was Re: Phoneme winnowing continues)

From:Jake X <starvingpoet@...>
Date:Wednesday, June 4, 2003, 20:14
> Mark J. Reed scripsit: > > > To be sure, English is full of irregular plurals that were borrowed > > along with the singular, mostly from Latin > > What's different about those Latin and Greek forms is that their plurals > come with them no matter when the borrowing is made. If today I introduce > a new borrowing from Greek, I automatically carry the Greek plural with
> it is a *rule* of English that Latin and Greek borrowings come in pairs. > Eventually the plural may get replaced ("pendulums", e.g.), true.
Except that the Latin and Greek plurals are often confused, because Latin ones are much better known. For example, octopus -> octopi, even though the word is based on Greek roots and Greek would have something like octopodes IIRC (correct me if I'm wrong). However, octopodes is only in use meaning species of the animal, so octopuses is probably the best way, even though it sounds bad. I think the confusion began when |oktopous| was transliterated as |octopus |, with the ending of the Greek word for foot resembling the Latin masculine nominate singular ending -us. Jake


John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>