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The plural of octopus. - helen-louise
The plural of octopus.
Killing myself laughing at the Merriam-Webster "Ask the Editor" feature on the plural of octopus (which I would link to, if I could find a way to do so). Apparently, if you say "octopuses" you are correct; if you say "octopi" you are sorta correct, but have no grounds for telling the people who say "octopuses" that they're wrong; and if you say "octopodes" (which the girl has pronounced most unlike the classical Greek that I was taught at school), you have to "be prepared to deliver this spiel at a moment's notice and in a British accent". Funnily enough, those are both things I specialise in... ;)

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13 comments or Leave a comment
hobbitbabe From: hobbitbabe Date: 9th July 2010 00:03 (UTC) (Link)
How about "octopodes"?
xiphias From: xiphias Date: 9th July 2010 00:12 (UTC) (Link)
That's my second-choice plural. After "octopuses."
mjl From: mjl Date: 9th July 2010 14:59 (UTC) (Link)
Unless I'm watching the wrong video, "octopodes" is what she refers to in the video rather than "octopodi".

The video link (at least the one I watched) is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFyY2mK8pxk
baratron From: baratron Date: 13th July 2010 00:49 (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I know that. I was just typing at... whatever o'clock it was. 4 am?

How embarrassing.
baratron From: baratron Date: 13th July 2010 00:54 (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I was brain-dead.
alexmc From: alexmc Date: 9th July 2010 06:57 (UTC) (Link)
In more modern greek with would be "octopodia" rather than "octopodi"
wateryfowl From: wateryfowl Date: 11th July 2010 17:51 (UTC) (Link)
I know that "Octopi" is a Latin ending on a Greek word, but I don't think the Romans ever preserved native forms. So, then, if the English got it from Latin and not from Greek, it would be correct, wouldn't it?

Also, why haven't we just Englisified it yet to "Octopusses" or some nonsense like that. I mean, regardless what the Greek ending should be, or what the Latin ending was, the question we really need to focus on is what the hell do we use as the plural in English?. If we're going to import it from a language, how do be pick which one?
rhialto From: rhialto Date: 12th July 2010 23:08 (UTC) (Link)
On the other hand, it always annoys me that in English the original Latin or Greek endings are dropped completely. I mean, Homeros would very likely not have responded if you called him "Homer". Similar with, say, Marcus Antonius.
wateryfowl From: wateryfowl Date: 12th July 2010 23:58 (UTC) (Link)
I always feel that proper nouns should be kept "as is", save for transcriptions into other writing systems.

I think the logic is that German "Kassandra" and English "Cassandra" are more or less the same, just "adjusted" for the language, so it's okay. However, this simply changes it to reflect the pronunciation of the language, whereas in your example "Homeros" is entirely different from the Englishified form and there's no good reason an English speaker can't say it. I'm thinking that perhaps since English doesn't really have inflection, we just decided to use the stem.

"Marcus" is even more puzzling as that is an actual name...

So, while I feel common nouns should be adjusted and changed to the rules of the language, I feel proper nouns should retain forms that match the source language. (I guess for proper names from Latin we'd have to use the nominative form, and leave it at that, though.)
baratron From: baratron Date: 13th July 2010 00:53 (UTC) (Link)
The plural in English is "octopuses". Watch the video.
wateryfowl From: wateryfowl Date: 13th July 2010 01:05 (UTC) (Link)
I have been consistently told that it's not. Ever. "Octopuses" does seem to be in my spellcheck, though.

Then again, I know I had a fairly questionable education...
baratron From: baratron Date: 14th July 2010 18:35 (UTC) (Link)
Well, get hold of a copy of the Merriam-Webster dictionary and show it to the people who've told you that it's not, ever. See if they can argue with the dictionary.
wateryfowl From: wateryfowl Date: 14th July 2010 20:03 (UTC) (Link)
You are ignorant in the way of ignorance.
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