Thursday, 25 January 2018

I love plurals. Or is it pluri? Or is a spawn of plural?

On Wednesday,  I bought a thesaurus at the op shop. I already had a thesaurus. Now I had two. 
Did that mean that I had suddenly become an owner of two thesauruses or two thesauri
Or did it just mean that I was a dork?

My thesaurus and its mate (See how I avoided the thesauruses/thesauri dilemma?) started me thinking once more about plurals.
I love plurals.
They confuse me, but I love them.
They're one of those things that make the English language ridiculously complicated, utterly charming and downright hilarious.

Take a hippoptamus.
If he's joined by another, they become a couple of hippopotami.
If they're joined by twenty others, they become a bloat of hippopotami.
How simply marvellous. Makes my heart sing.

Or take a goose.
One goose. Two geese.
But if there are five or more, they become a gaggle.
Unless they take flight, and then they're a skein.
I get the gaggle. I can see them and hear them. They're waddling along together, gossiping: 'Gaggle-gaggle-gaggle-honk.'
But a skein? What on earth are they doing up there in the sky? Knitting?
A gaggle of geese.

A skein of geese and not a knitting needle
or crochet hook in sight.

Collective nouns always tickle my fancy. They conjure up all sorts of images and stories in my mind.
Look at these gems:
A skulk of foxes
A flap of nuns   
A prudence of vicars
A fluther of jellyfish
An unkindness of ravens
A murmuration of starlings
A spawn of umbrellas
A raffle of turkeys
A crash of rhinoceroses

Or is it a crash of rhinoceri?
I never really know.

Because some plurals get tricky and all mutliple choicey.
One octopus. 
Two octopi. 
Or two octopuses. 
Or two octopodes.
A sludge of octopodes?
And others defy the rules you think you've just learnt.
So many inconsistencies and so little time to learn them all.
One campus. Two campuses.
One virus. Two vira.
One die. Two dice. Three dices. No, not really. It's still 'dice' when there are three. 

I have one Thermos. If I buy another, do I now have Thermi, Thermoses, Thermopodes or Therma?
Maybe I should bypass the issue by saying I have two containers to keep my coffee hot.

Plurals with singular names  get my goat.
Or they get my sheep.
One sheep. Two sheep. Three sheep.
How many do there have to be before you get to tag an 's' on the end? 
Six million sheeps is surely correct.
A stupidity of sheep?
A flock of sheeps?

And then there are those singular things that have plural names - scissors, pyjamas, underpants.
What if they go singular in spelling?
Is a scissor just a knife?
Is a pyjama the top half or the bottom?
And what does an underpant look like?  The mind boggles. I bet it's uncomfortable. I'll always take my underpants in pairs, thanks.

I will never fully master plurals. 
And, really, I never ever want to.
I have decided that, from now on, I will make up my own rules. 
I will call more than one of a kind whatever strikes my fancy.

I'll eat a peach.
I'll eat two peaches. 
I'll eat a murder of peaches. (It makes sense. Just ask anyone who has over-indulged in stone fruit.)

I'm going start wearing pyjami to bed. Which isn't so strange when my husband, the Great Dane, has been wearing pyjamases for years, English being his second language. 
I'll count a gaggle of sheeps to fall asleep.

I can see myself meeting acquainti for work and a frollic of friends for lunchdates. 

I'll make a prudence of decisions.
I'll sing a skein of songs.
I'l shower huggopodes and kissopodes on those I love.
I'll have a fluther of fun.
And I'll never ever get kerfuffled about pluri again.

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