Research: MLP: Yes, plurals are fun (and fickle)

Print Article

To her fans, few and deluded as they may be, the contrite Mrs. Language Person extends her dubious apologies. Today’s offering is neither her own nor particularly illuminating. No, Dear Readers, today she seeks merely to entertain and be done with it, off to nurse another grueling headache (Snitty Old Bitties are naturally prone to them, you see).

So without further ado she brings to you a popular ode of old, one misattributed yet reproduced by Harvard-educated English teacher, prolific author of “Crazy English,” and 1989 Punster of the Year, Richard Lederer (more on its origin follows).

•••

Ode to English Plurals

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes, but the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.

Then one fowl is a goose, but two are called geese, yet the plural of moose should never be meese,

You may find a lone mouse or a whole nest of mice, but the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men, why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?

The cow in the plural may be cows or kine, but a bow if repeated is never called bine, and the plural of vow is vows, never vine.

If I speak of a foot and you show me your feet, and I give you a boot would a pair be called beet?

If one is a tooth, and a whole set are teeth, why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?

If the singular’s this and the plural is these, should the plural of kiss ever be nicknamed keese?

Then one may be that and three would be those, yet hat in the plural would never be hose, and the plural of cat is cats, not cose.

We speak of a brother, and also of brethren, but though we say mother, we never say methren,

Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him, but imagine the feminine she, shis and shim.

So the English, I think, you all will agree, is the queerest language you ever did see.

•••

“Kine,” you may have asked? Why yes; kine is the archaic plural of cow, from the Middle English “kyn.” And that brings us to our hint of this ode’s earlier o-ri-gin.

So Dear Reader, lest you retain that Hollywood-inspired misimpression that the 19th century was all punctilious stuffiness punctuated only by frustrated romances in Jane Austen style, note: “Ode to English Plurals” — its author unknown — has been found published in newspapers of the late 1800s. Those English neckties and corsets couldn’t have been knotted too tightly.

•••

Mrs. Language Person and her nurse-secretary, Sholeh Patrick, are columnists for the Hagadone News Network. Contact them at Sholeh@cdapress.com.

Print Article

Read More Sholeh Patrick

Research: How to track bills that affect you

February 21, 2019 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Tuesday’s column outlined the Idaho legislative process. Today, a look at bill types and how to track them. ••• While hundreds of bills are introduced in each Idaho legislative session, not all mak...

Comments

Read More

Research: A bill is born (and just might grow up)

February 19, 2019 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press With Idaho’s 2019 session in full swing, today’s column outlines the stages of legislation and where to find it. Thursday, a glimpse at various types of bills. ••• It’s easy now with Bill Tracker, ...

Comments

Read More

Research: St. Valentine likely had multiple personalities

February 14, 2019 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Between overpriced flowers and candy hearts (never mind the pressure of perfection) it’s easy to forget the saint in Valentine’s Day. So who the heck was he? The better question is, who were they...

Comments

Read More

Research: School taxes: What’s in it for you? Lots

February 12, 2019 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Consternation about paying school taxes is nothing new. There have always been property owners frustrated by the fact that they don’t have kids in the system, saying “what’s in it for me?” Plenty, a...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 664-8176
215 N. Second St
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

©2019 The Coeur d'Alene Press Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X