Sunday, May 13, 2007

What's next, octupies?

I'm not judging. I'm just curious about anomalous or not-fully-developed forms. And listening to sports broadcasters nee athletes is a good way to find odd constructions. Just before overtime in game 2 of the NHL western conference final Brian Engblom recapped the events of the game so far, explaining that at one point a fan "threw an octupi on the ice."

I've mentioned the plural of -us words before. In that post I said

Octopus comes from Greek so the plural would be either octopuses or octopodes. Octopi has wriggled its way into common usage and its tentacles are holding firm.

But I was only thinking about the plural form when I wrote that. I had no idea the reach had extended even onto the singular.


  1. I had no idea anyone watched hockey anymore.

  2. Even worse, the Wings lost in overtime.

    Poor hockey commentators have it tough enough with the Finnish and Czech names, I'll give them a pass on Greek plurals, and maybe he messed up by including the article and the fan did throw more than one cephalopod on the ice.

  3. Oh I'll definitely give a pass. This morphology is most likely a result of some confusion that is not due to grammatical incompetence. Time to search for the pattern.

  4. Your aversion to the misuse/overuse of the -i ending is legend in the department. Due to you, I even put a sign on the door to the office I share with another Katie, Ms. Sheffield--"Office of the Katii". Feel special. You're like our very own Harold Bloom. We may not like your opinions, but by golly, they stick around anyways.

  5. Michael Covarrubias15 May, 2007 17:35

    I don't understand. Do people in Andrews English dept really believe that the historical plural of syllabus was syllabi?

    I'm not sure what there is to dislike about my claim. I'm was not being prescriptive about a use; I was identifying a false assumption/etymology. This is not an opinion dear girl. (There's a little Harold Bloom for you.)

  6. Okay, okay. As long as you're not being prescriptive about use, then it's fine. Because I like the way "syllabi" sounds a HELL of a lot better than "syllabuses". And I think that the rest of the AU English department mostly doesn't care; they are just amused at your vigor. (That's just the feeling I got; no one actually said that.)

    But seriously, if you were being prescriptive, you'd have half won the battle, simply because there will never be a first day of class again when I don't internally debate which I will say when the big moment comes: "syllabi" or "syllabuses". Even though I like the former, the latter may accidentally slip out just because I'm thinking about it so much. Damn you and your de-pantsing brilliance! :D


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