I'm also being somewhat tongue-in-cheek. ^_^
But nah, a lot of people defending this sort of thing (including some in this very thread) appeal to reasoning that has no reason to not be universal - they're not saying "octopi, because history", but rather actually trying to justify the pluralization, or proposing/defending some variant of the Greek pluralization because the word actually derives from Greek.
Like, if someone asks "Why is the spelling of 'through' so fucked up?", the correct answer is "because history". That history is pretty interesting imo! But if someone tried to defend the spelling on some sort of rational grounds, they'd be wrong. We don't spell it that way on purpose, we spell it that way because there *used* to be a reason (the spelling reflects the pronunciation it used to have, which was consistently transcribed like that in several words), then the reason went away and now we're stuck with a historical artifact.
This sort of "because Latin!" became popular around the turn of the 20th century (if I'm recalling my dates right), where some grammarians decided that English should be more like Latin, the Obviously Superior Language Of Academics. That's where we got several of these plurals, and non-sensical rules like "don't split infinitives" (because in Latin, the infinitive form is just another single-word conjugation, and thus is *impossible* to split, unlike English's two-word form for it).
So that's what I'm arguing - the only two spellings that have actual reasoning behind them are "octopi" (because history/common practice) and "octopuses" (because that's how you pluralize a word like in English). No other reasons apply, and none of the other spellings have real arguments behind them (besides perhaps "I think English spelling should be generally reformed to behave like X, which would dictate that 'octopus' pluralizes to Y", which, ok). So while "self-evidently ridiculous" is a little strong in its mockery, the fact that, self-evidently, we don't apply such pluralization rules to the vast majority of words, and those we do apply it to have no real connection between each other, shows that it is indeed a ridiculous practice to argue for on general grounds.
chridd wrote:Just because we use -uses in those words doesn't mean it's not awkward.
I guess you could argue that all those other words are awkward. I don't agree, and I don't generally hear people trying to argue that we should pluralize them differently (except when joking; "ani" and "peni" are kinda funny), but ok.
chridd wrote:No it isn't. It may or may not be a good idea, but if it really were self-evidently completely ridiculous, then no one would do it.
People do a lot of ridiculous things when they're feeling playful, or when they're not really thinking about it.