0928: "Mimic Octopus"

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cream wobbly
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby cream wobbly » Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:12 pm UTC

mievaan wrote:I just had to register to post this:

Merriam-Webster Ask the Editor - Octopus
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFyY2mK8pxk


Why not try to find a dictionary instead of a dialectal lexicon?

Boingo
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Boingo » Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:28 pm UTC

cream wobbly wrote:No, it's octopus. If a noun comes from Greek into Latin, it's a 5th declension neuter, so the plural is identical to the singular. Octopuses is an ugly Anglicization. Octopodes is an ugly neo-Latinification.

Edit: I don't care if Oxford says "Pl. octopodes, anglicized octopuses"; if you care about what it should be, and what is correct, then you care about Wednesday comic. So yeah, you can say those things, I'll only say octopi is wrong, but the "most right" is octopus.


Sorry, not so. Greek can come in any declension. 1st decl: poeta, -ae; nauta, -ae. 2nd decl: - servus, -i; deus, -i; equus, -i.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_declension

(And the -us would be 4th, not 5th...)

Edit: And just because it came into Latin, doesn't mean that we are building it out of the Latinized parts instead of the older Greek units...

Edit: Edit: Pliny the Elder declines the Latin version of the octopus, "polypus" in the second declension. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/L/Roman/Texts/Pliny_the_Elder/9*.html and search for "polyp". The Plautus and Ovid usages I found have it in accusative singular, which would be the same 2nd and 4th declensions.

Okay. I'm stopping.
Last edited by Boingo on Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:55 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

Alfador
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Alfador » Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:52 pm UTC

tellumo wrote:I came to talk about how the correct plural should be "octopodes".

What was I thinking--this is xkcd. Of course I got beaten on the first post. Shutting up now.

(ps: obligatory THIS IS XKCD!!!!! post foreclosed now.)


I even got beaten to the "I got beaten to it" post. @_@

pinochet
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby pinochet » Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:54 pm UTC

Eternal Density wrote:Oooh, hexadecipus!

Iranon wrote: And since it's been brought up: A hexadecipus would imply something like 10 arms and 6 tentacles (Contrary to widespread belief, octopodes have no tentacles).
Hexadecimal is an artificial mishmash of latin and greek that's actually appropriate for a change (since we use 6 of one and 10 of something else).

VentureFree wrote:Edit: By the way, I would submit that the last silhouette should be called a hexadecipus. But what the hell do I know. This whole comment is probably just BS anyway.

Vnend wrote:No, that would be a 'six-foot'. You want "hexadecipus" if you want 'sixteen-foot'.


Since 75% of this thread is just people correcting people anyway, I feel the need to chime in.

Deci = 0.1
Deca = 10

Hexadecimal is only spelled with an I because of the word decimal, which refers to the 1/10 root. A 16-pus would be properly referred to as a hexadecapod, which makes sense given that decapods are a real order of crustacean and "hexadecagon" is the correct name for a 16-gon.

Also, the correct pluralization of "mongoose" is "mongol". That is all.

goofy
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby goofy » Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:09 pm UTC

cream wobbly wrote:No, it's octopus. If a noun comes from Greek into Latin, it's a 5th declension neuter, so the plural is identical to the singular. Octopuses is an ugly Anglicization. Octopodes is an ugly neo-Latinification.


My understanding is that the Greek word is a third declension noun, and it's a third declension noun in Latin too, with the stem changes mimicking those in Greek. So the Latin plural would be octopodes.

cream wobbly wrote:Edit: I don't care if Oxford says "Pl. octopodes, anglicized octopuses"; if you care about what it should be, and what is correct, then you care about Wednesday comic. So yeah, you can say those things, I'll only say octopi is wrong, but the "most right" is octopus.


Again, etymological fallacy. It is a fallacy that we should look to another language to find out how to use English.

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Chuff » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:14 pm UTC

I'd just like to say that Lost Boys was the only book I've ever been unable to get through because of being too creeped out.
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby cptjeff » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:16 pm UTC

gwynhefar wrote:
jonadab wrote:Octopodes is clearly incorrect in English, because if the plural were octopodes the singular would be octopous. All masculine delta-stem and tau-stem Greek nouns end up with -ous in the nominative singular, because the dental always drops out when sigma (the nominative singular masculine ending) is appended to it, and the omicron lengthens to compensate for its loss, resulting in omicron upsilon. You can see the same thing in pous (foot - the root is *pod) and many other words.

English only uses the plural form from the language of origin when the singular form is also visibly retained from the language of origin. The attested English singular, octopus, is rather obviously a complete mismatch for octopodes. Therefore, octopodes is invalid in English.

If the word "octopus" comes to English via Latin, then "octopi" is valid. Because the -us ending is clearly visible in the English word, the -i plural would therefore also be valid. The fact that the root originated in Greek is unimportant -- it's the language that we got it from directly, which is still visible in the singular form, that matters. If there's any foreign language of origin visible in the singular form here, it's Latin.

Note too that "octopi" would still be valid even if it were never attested in Latin, if the singular form ends in -us in English because of the Latin pattern. If the English singular form uses the Latin ending *because it's the singular ending in Latin*, then the Latin plural is valid in English as well. It's the presence or absence of the singular element, its visibility in the English singular form, and (rather importantly) the fact that *that's why the singular form is spelled that way in English* that governs the validity of directly importing the plural form as well -- to match, as it were.

However, there are plenty of words ending in "us" wherein the "us" is not in fact a Latin ending, e.g., "bus". If the singular form in English does not retain any visible singularizing element from another language, then the standard regular English declension (add -s or -es) is used (unless the word fits into the null plural declension like "deer" or "sheep"). It is arguable that "octopus" falls into this category, because no Latin origin has been documented for it. \

Bottom line: if the -us in "octopus" is a corruption of the Greek ending -ous, then the only correct plural is "octopuses". If the -us in "octopus" is patterned after the Latin singular ending, then the Latin plural ending is valid in English. The form "octopuses" might still be valid as well, of course, but educated people tend to prefer foreign-form plurals when they are available. If we could only prove whether the -us in the singular form "octopus" is or is not due to Latin influence...



"Octopus" was coined (like many other animal names) by Carl Linnaeus. He took the Greek 'Octopous' and reformed it using Latin noun conventions because Latin was the language of science at the time. Therefore, 'octopi' *would* be the correct plural form consistent with the Latinization of the Greek source word.


I just felt this post bore repeating. It's not the original greek word, it's latinized. Latin rules are scattered all throughout english, and latin plurals are quite common.

The greek makes little sense, since the word has already modified to better fit the english language. The word was made to use latin rules, so it should be octopi rather than octopuses, though with the 'rules' of the english language, octopuses would be technically correct. The issue is that english has several parallel sets of rules, and octopus fits much better in english's latin framework then in the -s (I think it's romantic) framework. Why? Because it was designed that way. And octopuses adds a syllable and sounds ugly.

And yes, I'll echo the sentiment some others have aired: English is a living language, much more than most. It has a very flexible structure which can absorb all sorts of words and rules. As such, it's quite forgiving of mistakes, but takes a lot of work to truly master. But that means that if enough people decide one word is best, that becomes the word. If there's a need for a second person plural, we can make one, even though the reason we don't have one is because we killed our original first person forms and replaced them with what used to be the second person ones. If you don't like it, y'all can shove it where the sun don't shine. If collectively, people decide that octopi is the best word for whatever reason (sounds cool, flows, still fits within familiar system), the origin of the word doesn't matter, and grammatical pronouncements become moot. The english language goes on, and the greek origin of the word will become a trivia question. Hell, from my limited experience hearing plural cephalopods discussed, octopi already won. Octopodes is simply too foreign, and octopuses is just more awkward.

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Vetnurse85 » Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:11 pm UTC

This zoology major would LOVE to see this as a print to buy.

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby meatyochre » Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:12 pm UTC

Whoa, people use non-standard words that eventually get adopted as real words?

STOP!
THE!
PRESSES!

When someone says octopi, is there any doubt that they are referring to the plural of octopus? Get over it, prescriptivists. If bling is a word, then so the fuck is octopi. "English" doesn't just encompass the language you use in research papers. It encompasses the language that average people speak.

Shakespeare wasn't the only one with the power to change the English language. Evolve, already.
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby KShrike » Sat Jul 23, 2011 1:08 am UTC

meatyochre wrote:Whoa, people use non-standard words that eventually get adopted as real words?

STOP!
THE!
PRESSES!

When someone says octopi, is there any doubt that they are referring to the plural of octopus? Get over it, prescriptivists. If bling is a word, then so the fuck is octopi. "English" doesn't just encompass the language you use in research papers. It encompasses the language that average people speak.

Shakespeare wasn't the only one with the power to change the English language. Evolve, already.

This. I mean, honestly, this. Very well spoken sir.
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby pyeastman11 » Sat Jul 23, 2011 1:11 am UTC

This is so weird - i just read "The Lost Boys" over the weekend, and by Tuesday was telling someone they were using the wrong plural for octopus, and on Friday, I find I am not the only one...

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby zombie_monkey » Sat Jul 23, 2011 1:40 am UTC

zombie_monkey wrote:
Spectrum wrote:Shouldn't the link from the main page to here be labeled "Fora"?

fora.xkcd.com redirects to forums.xkcd.com, I think it was fora.xkcd.com before.

I mean, I still have it in my vimperator autocomplete (that was before the awesome bar? I think they copied it from there? I get similar results anyway) as fora.xkcd.com, strength of numbers I guess. I think it's based on your browsing history.) And also at one point it was forums.xkcd.com too, but not for long enough aparently and I think even then fora.xkcd.com redirected to it.

Hirg
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Hirg » Sat Jul 23, 2011 3:30 am UTC

project2051 wrote:All this arguing, it's almost as bad as that time I was nearly ran over by a herd of mooses.


Since this is the thread for pointless and half-correct corrections, I feel the need to point out that you were never in any danger of being run over by a moose or by a herd of moose. See this highly educational youtube video for more details:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZEbBZ2IrXE

Volbla
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Volbla » Sat Jul 23, 2011 8:59 am UTC

I do like to use ocotopi as the plural form, but i don't know. Shouldn't the plural for vagina be vaginae?

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cjquines
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby cjquines » Sat Jul 23, 2011 10:56 am UTC

Octopodises? Octopoduses? Hexadecadipuses? Hexadicupuses? Octohexadicodopuxes? Hexadioctocadecacupudisesos?
...
I think it's hexadioctocadecacupudisesos. Really. That just screams correct! "Hexadioctocadecacupudisesos." "Hexadioctocadecacupudisesos."

Mirkwood
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Mirkwood » Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:35 pm UTC

Volbla wrote:Shouldn't the plural for vagina be vaginae?


Sure, according to Latin grammar rules. In English, the main reason for applying foreign grammar rules (or any rules at all) is "It sounds better that way." Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so different people spell things differently. Seeing as what people prefer varies on the people involved, the "correct" spelling depends on the context. I think "vaginae" is the standard pluralization scientifically, whereas "vaginas" is fairly normal colloquially. Think of it like "colour" instead of "color"--it's not controversial that you use one in Britain and the other in the US.

kalakuja
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby kalakuja » Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:50 pm UTC

Any good documentary about octop*?

project2051
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby project2051 » Sat Jul 23, 2011 1:03 pm UTC

Hirg wrote:
project2051 wrote:All this arguing, it's almost as bad as that time I was nearly ran over by a herd of mooses.


Since this is the thread for pointless and half-correct corrections, I feel the need to point out that you were never in any danger of being run over by a moose or by a herd of moose. See this highly educational youtube video for more details:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZEbBZ2IrXE


I don't know they can be rather dangerous, a Moose once bit my sister.

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby gdf » Sat Jul 23, 2011 1:42 pm UTC

Explaining the comic:

Many restaurants serve seafood that isn't what you'd expect given its name.

In Florida, lots of places sell things called "Grouper's Cousin" or, less honestly, "Grouper" that is really some other, less expensive fish.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-11-21-florida-fake-grouper_x.htm

Asian restaurants have been known to prepare dishes that should contain octopus using "mimic-octopus" instead. Usually the mimic-octopus is just whatever extra fish they have on hand that they think they can pass off as octopus to tourists. The comic is making a joke about what they will try to pass off as mimic-octopus.

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Anonymously Famous » Sat Jul 23, 2011 1:55 pm UTC

cream wobbly wrote:Why not try to find a dictionary instead of a dialectal lexicon?

Is there a difference?

On a side note, has anyone read the book Frindle? It's quite entertaining.

I thought the submarine, anchor and scuba diver mimic octopuses/podes/pi were kind of funny. Not as funny as some other things maybe, but it got a small "heh" out of me.
pinochet wrote:Since 75% of this thread is just people correcting people anyway, I feel the need to chime in.

Deci = 0.1
Deca = 10

Hexadecimal is only spelled with an I because of the word decimal, which refers to the 1/10 root. A 16-pus would be properly referred to as a hexadecapod, which makes sense given that decapods are a real order of crustacean and "hexadecagon" is the correct name for a 16-gon.

I'd thought that too, actually.

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Sir_Read-a-Lot » Sat Jul 23, 2011 4:09 pm UTC

About the pluralization:

Languages constantly change. They have to, to cope with new ideas. Yet not every change can be valid, because if everybody had the right to amend the language however they choose, then the language would quickly descend into gibberish. So, what denotes a valid word? Since the main purpose of language is communication, I think that any word (or pluralization) that doesn't hinder communication can be considered valid, and any word that hinders communication is not valid.

Using the above criteria, "octopi" is a valid plural, because when it's used, everybody knows what is meant. However, the use of "octopi" has clearly prevented any practical communication on this thread, so I conclude that "octopi" is a valid plural, except on the xkcd forums, or anywhere else where it will provoke hours long discussions on pluralization.

It's a quantum plural - it's both valid and invalid until it is observed.

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby paste » Sat Jul 23, 2011 4:32 pm UTC

I think the only other time I have posted on this forum is for the same reason, but if you carefully read the second definition of octopus in the Merriam Webster dictionary (emphasis mine)

something that resembles an octopus especially in having many centrally directed branches


you will note that, in fact, everything in the universe is a mimic octopus. Take, for example, a deep-sea diver: deep-sea divers resemble octopuses in that they are both living organisms, therefore they are octopuses. Q.E.D..

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/octopus

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Gamer_2k4 » Sat Jul 23, 2011 4:44 pm UTC

gdf wrote:Explaining the comic:

Asian restaurants have been known to prepare dishes that should contain octopus using "mimic-octopus" instead. Usually the mimic-octopus is just whatever extra fish they have on hand that they think they can pass off as octopus to tourists. The comic is making a joke about what they will try to pass off as mimic-octopus.


...That makes the most sense out of any explanation here yet.

I don't think it's RIGHT, but it's better than "oh it takes two mimics to make one common octopus" or whatever the heck everyone else has been saying.

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby goofy » Sat Jul 23, 2011 4:51 pm UTC

Gamer_2k4 wrote:
gdf wrote:Explaining the comic:

Asian restaurants have been known to prepare dishes that should contain octopus using "mimic-octopus" instead. Usually the mimic-octopus is just whatever extra fish they have on hand that they think they can pass off as octopus to tourists. The comic is making a joke about what they will try to pass off as mimic-octopus.


...That makes the most sense out of any explanation here yet.

I don't think it's RIGHT, but it's better than "oh it takes two mimics to make one common octopus" or whatever the heck everyone else has been saying.


No, it's totally wrong. The comic is about the real animal called the mimic octopus, which can change its shape to imitate other animals. It's also about this, as someone else has already said.

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby jpk » Sat Jul 23, 2011 6:37 pm UTC

goofy wrote:
Gamer_2k4 wrote:
gdf wrote:Explaining the comic:

Asian restaurants have been known to prepare dishes that should contain octopus using "mimic-octopus" instead. Usually the mimic-octopus is just whatever extra fish they have on hand that they think they can pass off as octopus to tourists. The comic is making a joke about what they will try to pass off as mimic-octopus.


...That makes the most sense out of any explanation here yet.

I don't think it's RIGHT, but it's better than "oh it takes two mimics to make one common octopus" or whatever the heck everyone else has been saying.


No, it's totally wrong. The comic is about the real animal called the mimic octopus, which can change its shape to imitate other animals. It's also about this, as someone else has already said.



I especially like that "mock duck" and "mock chicken" have become "mimic octopus" in order to try to make this explanation work.

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Alsadius » Sat Jul 23, 2011 8:37 pm UTC

goofy wrote:
Gamer_2k4 wrote:
gdf wrote:Explaining the comic:

Asian restaurants have been known to prepare dishes that should contain octopus using "mimic-octopus" instead. Usually the mimic-octopus is just whatever extra fish they have on hand that they think they can pass off as octopus to tourists. The comic is making a joke about what they will try to pass off as mimic-octopus.


...That makes the most sense out of any explanation here yet.

I don't think it's RIGHT, but it's better than "oh it takes two mimics to make one common octopus" or whatever the heck everyone else has been saying.


No, it's totally wrong. The comic is about the real animal called the mimic octopus, which can change its shape to imitate other animals. It's also about this, as someone else has already said.


And here I thought it was about trolling his fan base.

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Richard. » Sat Jul 23, 2011 8:38 pm UTC

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Spoiler:
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby soundandfury » Sat Jul 23, 2011 10:35 pm UTC

On the 'mongoose' side discussion, I can't believe no-one has yet pointed out the obvious solution.
"Please send two polygoose."

As for our friend the octopus, if (as I suspect) 'octopodes' is the plural of 'octopus', then we are forced to conclude that 'antipodes' is in fact the plural of 'antipus'. Sadly, in practice (or rather, on the Wikipedia article) one sees both 'antipode' and 'antipodal point' as singulars, the latter being defensible but the former certainly not, and in fact the lede and the translation from Plato both suggest that in fact 'the antipodes' is singular, although I have always considered it to be plural (as in "The Auckland and Campbell Islands are often thought of as the antipodes to the UK"); one rarely considers merely the point opposite one's current location, but rather the set of points sufficiently close to being opposite (typically a ball around the antipus, or perhaps its intersection with S2). I realise however that these views are controversial.
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Technical Ben » Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:42 pm UTC

TaylorP wrote:Wikipedia uses Octopuses. It must be right!

For actual real. It uses them to work the internet. :D
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby TaylorP » Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:52 am UTC

soundandfury wrote:On the 'mongoose' side discussion, I can't believe no-one has yet pointed out the obvious solution.
"Please send two polygoose."


That's great haha. :D It might, however, confused with a set of conjoined twin geese.

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Jamaican Castle » Sun Jul 24, 2011 4:23 am UTC

I can honestly say I never considered this, if only because I don't often have to refer to octopi. Octopae. Octopice. Animals, ye ken well what I mean.

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Internetmeme » Sun Jul 24, 2011 4:32 am UTC

Just felt like dropping into this thread to mention this: Ballerina Mafia did a thing on this a few months ago.
Spoiler:

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Atomsk » Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:30 pm UTC

distractedSofty wrote:
SlyReaper wrote:And of course there are some constructions I'll never accept, like "could care less". Damn that one winds me up, and I think the only reason people still use it is to annoy English people.

I've never understood why people don't like that one: it's not the only ironic idiom in English, so I don't know why it's always singled out.

I think the thing is the actual idiom is "couldn't care less".

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby illiterati » Sun Jul 24, 2011 1:39 pm UTC

meatyochre wrote: If bling is a word, then so the fuck is octopi.
I don't really care about the argument since I fully plan to use all pluralization options interchangeably, but I love this quote. :mrgreen:
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Eternal Density » Mon Jul 25, 2011 12:42 am UTC

Yesterday I saw a bit of older English (not terribly old but definitely premodern) and my attention was immediately drawn to the spelling of the word dig as 'digg'.
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby distractedSofty » Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:17 am UTC

Atomsk wrote:I think the thing is the actual idiom is "couldn't care less".

Well both are common english idioms (or rather, both are common ways to express the same idiom): even your link says that. Consider the similar idiom pair "cheap at [half|twice] the price": both of them are used both ironically and straight.

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby JudeMorrigan » Mon Jul 25, 2011 3:30 pm UTC

cptjeff wrote:The greek makes little sense, since the word has already modified to better fit the english language. The word was made to use latin rules, so it should be octopi rather than octopuses, though with the 'rules' of the english language, octopuses would be technically correct. The issue is that english has several parallel sets of rules, and octopus fits much better in english's latin framework then in the -s (I think it's romantic) framework. Why? Because it was designed that way. And octopuses adds a syllable and sounds ugly.

But, as has been pointed out, the "latin rules" do NOT say that words that end in -us are pluralized by changing the -us to -i. It says that words that end in -us are pluralized by changing the -us to -i IF they are derived from second declension nouns. If it were otherwise, the plural of "opus" would be "opi" rather than "opera".

Now, that is not to say that there's anything wrong with a usage-based argument for either octopuses or even octopi. But an argument in favor octopi that's based on etymological rules or "english's latin framework" is harder to justify.

Lerkistan
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Lerkistan » Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:03 pm UTC

JudeMorrigan wrote:Since when do the rules of Latin grammar specify that words that end in -us automatically have pluralized endings of -i? A word can end in -us and not be second declension. Given that the word in question is pes, pedis, I'm at a bit of a loss as to how -i could *possibly* be considered the proper pluralization based on Latin.

Thank you. I also briefly considered octopus, -podis, n, but the resulting octopoda didn't seem right. Anyway, the -pi variant seems even worse.

hrimhari
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Re: 0928: "Mimic Octopus"

Postby hrimhari » Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:07 pm UTC

My turn!

dan_dassow » Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:04 am UTC
Image


EXCELLENT!!!!!

goofy » Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:51 am UTC
No, it's totally wrong. The comic is about the real animal called the mimic octopus, which can change its shape to imitate other animals. It's also about this, as someone else has already said.


Thank you Randall! Wait...

Sir_Read-a-Lot » Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:09 am UTC
Using the above criteria, "octopi" is a valid plural, because when it's used, everybody knows what is meant. However, the use of "octopi" has clearly prevented any practical communication on this thread, so I conclude that "octopi" is a valid plural, except on the xkcd forums, or anywhere else where it will provoke hours long discussions on pluralization.


Nope. Only people with a vague knowledge of latin plurals would know what "octopi" is supposed to be. In the other hand, anybody would understand "octopuses" provided they know what "octopus" is. So using your own criteria, both "octopi" and "octopodes" should be discarded everywhere, not only in these forums.

mojacardave » Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:29 am UTC
How I long for the day when I come onto the XKCD forum thread for a comic, and there isn't a post from one of the XKCD lingerers saying how much it sucks. Why are you still here?


In case anyone wondered like me why mojacardave would assume that because somebody found one joke unfunny they wouldn't appreciate the majority of the comics, search for the user's posts and judge by yourself.

Finally, the two octopuses are still a mystery to me. I think they really are two octopuses interacting with each other.

Sir_Read-a-Lot
Posts: 30
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:50 am UTC

Re: 0928: "Mimic Octopus"

Postby Sir_Read-a-Lot » Mon Jul 25, 2011 10:55 pm UTC

hrimhari wrote:
Sir_Read-a-Lot » Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:09 am UTC
Using the above criteria, "octopi" is a valid plural, because when it's used, everybody knows what is meant. However, the use of "octopi" has clearly prevented any practical communication on this thread, so I conclude that "octopi" is a valid plural, except on the xkcd forums, or anywhere else where it will provoke hours long discussions on pluralization.


Nope. Only people with a vague knowledge of latin plurals would know what "octopi" is supposed to be. In the other hand, anybody would understand "octopuses" provided they know what "octopus" is. So using your own criteria, both "octopi" and "octopodes" should be discarded everywhere, not only in these forums.


You don't need to understand the origin of a plural to use the plural. I have absolutely no idea why "goose" is pluralized to "geese", but if somebody tells me how about the time the geese attacked them, I'll know exactly what they are referring to. Similarly, if I order two octopi at a restaurant, I don't think I would cause any confusion at all. (assuming the restaurant serves octopus. If they don't, I'll probably cause a lot of confusion).

I'm sure there are some places where "octopi" would cause confusion, but I think the number of places is very small, and constantly decreasing.


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