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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Fight for the Platypi

The mighty platypus; We all know about this creature, or at least know of it. It is often referred to as the duckbilled platypus, but this is more cumbersome of a term than simply platypus. Also, it’s stupid, because no other forms of the platypus exist. It’d be different if there was also a mandibled platypus in addition to the duckbilled one. Then I could see somebody using the mouth-shape as a characteristic of identification. But really, it’s fucking pointless to say “duckbilled platypus”. Do you say “duckbilled duck?” No, you will always say “Darkwing Duck.” Eat shit, Daffy.

I have always considered platypi to be the plural form of platypus. Recently, it has come to my attention that this may not necessarily be true. Indeed, as I typed it two sentences prior, my word processor underlined it as a misspell, indicating that it may very well not be a word. Is this the case?

I certainly hope not. In addition to platypus, there exist other words that I change from “-us” to “-i” to indicate plurality, namely cactus and octopus. Fuck yeah; we all know (or should know, less you be ignorant or stupid) that cacti means “more than one cactus” and that octopi means “more than one octopus”.

The process of pluralizing nouns is something I find quite interesting (in relation to how boring the rest of the shit in English class was). Adding to this is my pretty high self-regard when it comes to using words correctly. I have chastised people in the past for misuse of words, and likewise, my pride is dealt considerable blows when I find myself in error, or it is identified as such by one of my peers. But no worries here, I am nearly dead certain on how to pluralize all three of the words in question.

Once upon a time, there was a man, who in dealing with me, somehow entered upon a conversation concerning cacti. This man was quite confused, and considered cacti to be singular and cactus to be plural. I could only think two things: 1) He must be thinking cactus is plural because it ends with an “s”, or 2) He must be a fucking dumbass. #2 was definitely the case, but it may have been in combination with numero uno.

Thinking quickly to fix his error without much embarrassment, I went into damage control. “Surely he must know that octopus is singular; It is far too common to be misunderstood in such a manner.” I presented this to him. “Well, sir, I mean, octopus means just one octopus, whereas octopi means more than one octopus.” Without hesitation, he disagreed. Now I was confused, flustered, and angry. Above that, I was frustrated. This was no mere mortal man (by army standards), he was a hero, a legend to behold indeed. He was, in fact, a Lieutenant Colonel.

Fuck. How much can I stomach? Normally this would be the time I would castrate his ego and leave him staring back at his own naked ignorance. But I am a dog in the army, and, as such, a dog will not bite a man, nay, an outstanding man, without repercussion. Negative repercussion.

Did I stand up for my mores? Did I swallow my pride? Find out next week on “This Is One of the Many Reasons I Hate the Army.”

And we’re back. On last week’s episode we learned that Lieutenant Colonels can be illiterate English-butchering fuckwads. And now, the exciting conclusion.

Yeah, I just fucking agreed with that guy. I stand by my decision. He wouldn’t have gotten anything from it anyway, and my life is probably more comfortable now because of it. If I felt like I could’ve made a difference or positive impact… Fuck, I probably still would’ve agreed with the dumbass. Is that bad? Maybe. At this point, in this place, sometimes staying under the radar is just the way to go. And right now, right here, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ll wait until I move on.

Back to plurality. Like I said, I wanted to destroy this guy for mangling word identification, but uh, was I actually wrong the entire time?

I was doing nothing one night not too long ago, and hence I was searching Wikipedia quite randomly. I came upon an article concerning echidnas. Now, if you don’t know, echidnas are one of the most primitive mammals, and they lay eggs. One of the only other mammals that lays eggs is the platypus. So, obviously, I hit up the platypus article next.

Now I’m thinking about how the platypus is just weird as fuck. But, I love the word platypi, because it’s one of my favorite ways to pluralize words. It just sounds cool, okay? Wikipedia thought otherwise, however.

As it turns out, there is no universally accepted word for “more than one platypus”. Scientists generally use platypuses or just simply platypus to indicate more than one. Wow, I am the fucktard. Oh, wait, hold on just a second. I continue to read, and the article does indeed mention “platypi”. Good, it’s going to agree with me. Reading, reading, reading… Hmmm. Says here that platypi is actually a colloquial term, and is technically Dog Latin. In case you are unfamiliar with the term Dog Latin, let me explain. It is the degradation of genuinely Latin words that are borrowed into English; Fucked up in English by trying to modify them. In other words, it’s like Engrish, except we’re the dumb ones. Or, maybe just me, since I thought it was correct all this time.

Well, remember what I said about dealing a substantial blow to my pride factor? Mang, that shit was tough to read. I have to know if this is the case for my other two pet words.

Let’s break from animals and head for cactus. Yes! Cacti is the most common way to pluralize cactus. Fucking score. In addition to this, it is the grammatically correct way to go about business when following the rules of Botanical Latin. Grammar points, bitches. Disappointment accompanies my joy, however. In following Greek grammar rules, we discover that cactuses and cactoi are the correct terms. Fuck the Greeks. Cactoi does sound pretty cool, but it does not reflect well upon my argument. Cactuses is generally accepted, however, and so is just plain cactus. Man, fuck that. Cacti is the word I will use, and if you don’t use that word, then you will be labeled as a Greek asshole. Is that what you want? Byzantine, fuck thyself.

Okay, I consider the cactus/cacti battle to be won in my favor. A similar result with octopus will leave me at a respectable 2-1, whereas defeat will leave 1-2, and quite shamed.

To quote Wikipedia, “There are three forms of the plural of octopus; namely, octopuses, octopi, and octopodes. Currently, octopuses is the most common form in the UK as well as the US; octopodes is rare, and octopi is often objected to.”

What the fuck? Okay, so octopuses is the most common? That is SHIT! That is a stupid word. If and when I ever hear somebody utter that word, I will… Fuck, I do not know what I will do. Apparently it is correct, but it sounds so wrong. Like the “c-word”. I refuse to use it, and when people say it, I feel quite disturbed at my core. When people say octopuses? Same thing.

Tiny victories, me, tiny victories. Alright, it says octopi is in a secure second place, as octopodes is rarely used. However, I think that octopodes is probably more common that octopuses, but whatever. What is truly bothersome is that octopi is objected to; Incredible.

As it turns out, this may be just. To again quote Wikifuckia, “Octopi derives from the mistaken assumption that octōpūs is a second declension Latin noun, which it is not.” Oh shit, I always make that mistake. It’s so easy to get second declension nouns mixed up with first declension nouns, just as in English it’s easy to mistake the hesternal preterit past tense for the prehodiernal absolute-relative past tense. Typical rookie fuck up; my bad.

Technically, the word is Latinized Greek, not Latin. <sarcasm> Whoops. </sarcasm>  It is interesting to find, however, that if it were a Latin word, the plural form of octopus would actually be octopedes, much like milipedes or centipedes. Nice.

So, really what is this all about? Am I a pedant? Couldn’t be, I don’t even know what the word means. And that’s the true lesson here: You can’t truly be pedantic if you‘re unfamiliar with the term. Cacti, octopi, and platypi, now and forever




    Comment by Phil Fox — Tuesday, January 15, 2008 @ 2:14 am | Reply

  2. fom wikipedia:

    In the English language, the plural form of words ending in -us varies. Often multiple forms are acceptable. Examples include:

    fungus becomes fungi
    hippopotamus becomes hippopotamuses or hippopotami
    platypus becomes platypuses; platypi occurs but is etymologically incorrect, and platypodes, while technically correct, is very rare
    terminus becomes termini or terminuses
    uterus becomes uteri or uteruses

    Comment by -i — Monday, March 30, 2009 @ 4:52 pm | Reply

  3. FIRSTLY LETS GET ONE THING STRAIGHT PLATYPUSES ARE NOT REAPEAT NOT STUPID .They are a unique creature that facinates me. It can’t be stupid,scientist say that there may be different sub-speicies of the platypus!there body which poseses different parts of other animals makes it the most unique mammal ever

    P.S:i am only ten yet i know more than you!

    no offense to you

    Comment by Martha apps — Tuesday, July 21, 2009 @ 11:33 am | Reply

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