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Do you miss the exceptions?

  1. Dec 20, 2005 #1


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    I've been considering making an effort to retire some of English's rule-breaking words, replacing them with words that follow the normal rules. It's not actually anything new. The process, regularization, happens naturally in languages. I'm just wondering how much we should intentionally help it along -- or, I suppose, even resist it. So I'd like to test out a fast and thorough approach in this thread, i.e., stopping using all of the rule-breaking words cold turkey. It would be great if you guys could help me find any problems or difficulties with this, let me know what you think, if you'd actually use the new words (incl. away from PF), if you have other suggestions, etc. Please do try to use the rule-following words as much as possible in this thread (perhaps even before forming an opinion about them) so we can see them in action. :smile:
    Competent English speakers already use and 'know' these rules, on some level, so if you think you fall into that group, you can probably get by just reading the rule. Here's one to get things started. I'll add more if this doesn't immediately crash and burn.

    Rule 1. Form plurals by attaching the plural suffix to the singular noun form, as in
    one lip ~ two lips
    one hug ~ two hugs
    one kiss ~ two kisses
    This rule applies to all nouns that aren't pronouns. The plural suffix is usually spelled -s or -es, though there are exceptions (more than you probably ever wanted to know about English plurals). It has three spoken forms, distributed according to the following rules.
    - Add /s/, as in lips, if the (singular form of the) noun ends with one of the following sounds (don't go by spelling!): lip, lick, kit, cliff, myth.
    - Add /Iz/ (or /əz/), as in kisses, if the nouns ends with one of the following sounds: kiss, fish, witch, quiz, rouge, fridge.
    - Add /z/, as in hugs, if the noun ends with a sound not listed above.​
    So for example, instead of
    one mouse ~ two mice
    one tooth ~ two teeth
    one wolf ~ two wolves
    one sheep ~ two sheep
    one deer ~ two deer
    one ox ~ two oxen
    one child ~ two children
    one person ~ two people
    one nucleus ~ two nuclei
    one phenomenon ~ two phenomena
    one formula ~ two formulae
    you have
    one mouse ~ two mouses
    one tooth ~ two tooths
    one wolf ~ two wolfs
    one sheep ~ two sheeps
    one deer ~ two deers
    one ox ~ two oxes
    one child ~ two childs
    one person ~ two persons
    one nucleus ~ two nucleuses
    one phenomenon ~ two phenomenons
    one formula ~ two formulas
    What do you think? Sound simpler? You can find lists of irregular plurals by googling combos of irregular, plural, noun, list. analysises has caught my eye/ear already. Does this group bother anyone else?
    axis, analysis, basis, crisis, diagnosis, ellipsis, hypothesis, oasis, paralysis, parenthesis, synthesis, synopsis, thesis.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 20, 2005 #2


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    How will we know who the smart kids are if there aren't any tricky words to learn to spell? :biggrin: I'm content with the current words/spellings, and it would sound horrid to me to change them.
  4. Dec 20, 2005 #3
    I'd rather go the other way:

    one lip two lope
    one hug two hoog
    one kiss two koss
  5. Dec 20, 2005 #4
    "Persons" is already a valid plural. People is the word for refering to a group of persons. Persons makes a description more specific for the reference to multiple individuals.
  6. Dec 20, 2005 #5
    yes, i agree with this. "childs" just sounds stupid, but lope sounds cool. we could sometimes go even further if we had any reason to: "geeses", perhaps many spiecies of gees?
    While im here is 'infect' a word? as a noun, 'someone who is infected'? would the plural be infects or infeect
  7. Dec 21, 2005 #6
    It's not a noun, but sounds good as one: "Nurse Johnson, make sure all the infects are put in the isolation ward."
  8. Dec 21, 2005 #7


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    In my experience, persons is used much less often then people as the plural of person. When was the last time you heard someone use persons? Maybe people will be used that way as long as it's part of the language. I can live with that exception.
    Can you pinpoint why it sounds stupid? Especially if the other ones don't sound stupid?
    Like peoples are groups of groups of persons? :rofl: :cry:
    I've never heard it used that way before, but you can invent words if you want to. That one makes sense to me. Which syllable would you stress when pronouncing it?
    I'm pretty sure that when a new word is invented -- or an old one given a new meaning -- it usually follows the rules of the language. That makes the most sense to me, but you're free to do whatever you want (just don't expect everyone to understand what you're saying). I would easily understand infects as zooby used it but wouldn't get infeect.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2005
  9. Dec 21, 2005 #8
    It's not really an "invented" word, so much as the translation of a word from one part of speech to another. I almost think I've heard a term for this, but can't pinpoint it.
    I think first syllable: IN-fect.

    Some more:

    One fish Two foosh
    One dish Two dawsh
    One wish Two wohsh
    One computer Two computi
  10. Dec 21, 2005 #9
    it seems like most persons aren't very partial to your idea. I spose its because as childs we're taught one thing, and aren't welcoming to such seemingly useless changes. When i was young, we studied the ocean, and all the childs in my class really loved when we learned about octopusses. eventually we got to squids, and no one thought they were quite as cool. I liked them, and so i did a big project on them. after my presentation, all the childs in my class, (those theifs!) started liking squids more than octopusses. I think it was because i was so cool and they wanted to be like me, (but i have many other hypothosisses.)

    at any rate, mans and womans are just stubborn probably. but i think maybe tradition makes up a lot of the critereons for acceptable words anyway. it may be just one of the many phenomenons of human nature, but language especially seems to be tied strictly to social norms.

    but if you'd like to institute changes, i'd say you should recal the old wifes tale about the mens who all their lifes, ate two halfs of a tomato for dinner ever night because they hated new things. their wifes, however, were daring womans and one day decided to play a trick. they took 3 tomatos from their tomato bush and used their knifes to cut them into equal halfs then fed them to their husbands. each told their husband that he was eating just one tomato from the same plant all his tomatos were always from. but then she served him the third half, and the husbands both worried. "darling," they'd say "how can i have 3 halfs from just one tomato" and they each replied "oh, that second half must have been my tomato from the store up the street" at which points the husbands began both began choking from this new and foriegn food. the wifes each called the family doctors, and each doctor prescribed the same thing. "he must quickly run to the patch of cactuses down the road and sip their sweet nectar to clense their bodies of this new and evil food!"

    and so the men hurried off down the road, forgetting to even grab their shoes. but the time they reached the patch of cactusses, their foots were sore and tired. but the cut open a cactus and drank the nectar quickly, soothing their aching bodies. Finally the mans returned home to their wifes and each asked again for another meal. the wifes went to their kitchens and prepared a meal of cactusses for their husbands and served it to them. the husbands groaned and asked for their usual tomatos. to this the wifes replied "you ate your normal tomatos last night, and yes, they were all from the same bush, but you thought they weren't and so you ran off and drank cactus juice. you'd never had cactus juice before, but now you have, so its no longer new. eat up!"

    the moral of this tale: new things can be good! or they can make you forget what you're doing so that you run out without shoes and end up with tired foots. or something like that.

    anyway, i tried using your new plural nouns, but maybe i'm just like the other sheeps. i can't sink my tooths into this new way of speaking, so its back to irregular plural nouns for me!
  11. Dec 21, 2005 #10


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    I suggest you check this out first HRW, it discusses Latin's rules, and how words got turned into English.

    Trauma - Traumata
    Drama - Dramata
    Dogma - Dogmata
    Stigma - Stigmata
    Isthsmus - Isthmuses
    Crocuses - Crocuses
    Nucleus - nucleuses

    Kudo is the supposed singular of Kudos, but Kudos is actually the singular
    Insignia and regalia are plurals of insigne and ragale
    Bicep, tricep, quadricep, and forcep are incorrectly formed from biceps, triceps, quadriceps, and forceps, which are already singular.
    Paraphernalia is plural for paraphernal.
    Radios have antennas but insects have antennae
    Alga is the singular of algae
    Double plurals - plurals of a plural.
    Operas (Opus is the singular, Opera is plural)
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2005
  12. Dec 21, 2005 #11
    I don't understand why the mans always ate there tomatos in halfs. Its like they were just begging to become the subject of an old wifes tale.
  13. Dec 21, 2005 #12


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    Maybe you're thinking of word formation or derivational morphology (as opposed to inflectional morphology). I've seen the terms used differently, to mean the same thing and with derivation being a main class of word formation processes. Derivational morphology, or word formation, creates new lexemes (SINGER) from old ones (SING); inflectional morphology determines the word forms in the paradigm of a lexeme (SINGER: singer, singers; SING: sing, sings, sang, sung, singing). The definitions and the distinctions they're meant to draw are rather hairy. Morphological processes include compounding (black + bird --> blackbird), incorporation (scare (verb) + crow (noun) --> scarecrow), affixation (un- + happy + -ness --> unhappiness), ablaut (goose --> geese; bath --> bathe), back-formation (editor --> edit + -or (edit + -er) --> edit), and reduplication (repeating the whole word or part of it, ?English example?, example from Pima: gogs 'dog' --> gogogs 'dogs'). A process can be used for inflection or derivation or both and can be used differently in different languages. As earlier examples show, English regularly inflects nouns for number (i.e., forms plurals) by affixation, specifically by suffixation, while Pima uses partial reduplication to do the same thing, and English also uses suffixation to derive nouns from verbs by affixing -er.
    Yeah, me too, like combat, conflict, contest, convict, defect, reject, etc. I had a list somewhere but can't find it. I'm not sure why that sounds best though; there are other noun-verb pairs that don't change (demand, dispute, review) or are reversed (eh, I swear there are some).
    Actually, just looking at the vowels in the second syllables in those examples, perhaps they are too strong or heavy to get a weak stress, i.e., the physical properties of the words or the rules we use to pronounce them undo any morphological change. So maybe, for two-syllable words, first-syllable stress on nouns and second-syllable stress on verbs is the rule and it's just undone or counteracted by phonetic or phonological rules in some cases. Ah, I need more examples! :tongue2: Or maybe it's the relationship between the two syllables, not the second alone, that needs to be considered.

    Thank you, Gale. :biggrin: I got used to wifes by the end. And I think there's a great reason to change: instead of learning and using the rules and their exceptions, you can just learn and use the rules (or fewer exceptions, at least).

    I knew penes would come up here. Thanks for getting it over with, Mk.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2005
  14. Dec 21, 2005 #13


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    Two fish could be two feesh, it sounds better

    One fish two feesh
  15. Dec 21, 2005 #14
    Sounds better? Are you thinking of pet fish or fish you eat? I'd rather eat tunafoosh than tunafeesh.
  16. Dec 21, 2005 #15


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    a foosh is a foot, my older daughter called a foot a foosh

    so if you like tuna foot...:bugeye:
  17. Dec 21, 2005 #16
    The strange thing is, that's exactly the same objection I have to "feesh". It looks too much like the word "feet" to me.
  18. Dec 21, 2005 #17
  19. Dec 21, 2005 #18

    Chi Meson

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    What do all the mans and womans in other forums think of this idea?
  20. Dec 21, 2005 #19
    You mention Latin, yet not Greek?

    Are all from Greek not Latin :-)
  21. Dec 21, 2005 #20


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    You asking me? I haven't asked anyone else about it yet.
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