0928: "Mimic Octopus"

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Istaro
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Istaro » Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:28 am UTC

mschmidt62 wrote:There must be something I'm not getting here....

A mimic octopus is a very good mimic of other sea life.

Two mimic octopuses look like one mimic octopus...so one mimic octopus is mimicking the other octopus? But where's the other octopus? Is it mimicking the void?

I'm sure I'll kick myself with the stupidity of what I'm missing as soon as someone explains it....


I'm guessing that normally they take the form of other sea life but when they're mating their energies are directed elsewhere so they don't keep up the charade, and revert to their natural form?

Lepton
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Lepton » Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:46 am UTC

Hello, long time lurker, first time poster here. (Is LTLFTP a legitimate abbreviation yet?)

Just to add to the controversy, while 'podes' is the correct plural for 'pous' in (ancient) greek, the actual word is 'octapus'! Therefore 'octopodes' is just as false as 'octopi', because the word it is neither latin, nor proper greek.

Also, the comic reminded me of the us air force aircraft identification chart. I think I can't post links yet, so you may have to google it.

distractedSofty
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby distractedSofty » Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:52 am UTC

TheTomahawk wrote:The plural form octopi, formed according to rules for Latin plurals, is incorrect.

Since noone else seems to be game: octopi is no less correct than octopodes. Not because I think it's necessarily correct, but because I think that language is something that should be enjoyed. Which is why I form irregular past tenses (thunk, blank, fat) and plurals (boxen, octopi). Shakespeare was a fan of verbing nouns.

Anyone who "corrects" such "mistakes" just doesn't get it.

JAPrufrock
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby JAPrufrock » Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:30 am UTC

What a wonderful mouse-over.

It was "a" climactic scene, resolving a major plot thread around halfway through the book. VERY satisfying.

And I never hear an octopodal plural without thinking of the scene, and the comeuppance of Mrs. Jones.

mrjeremy
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby mrjeremy » Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:48 am UTC

I must have missed something. When did a browser's built-in spell-checker become the yard-stick for correct pluralization?

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SlyReaper
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby SlyReaper » Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:51 am UTC

distractedSofty wrote:
TheTomahawk wrote:The plural form octopi, formed according to rules for Latin plurals, is incorrect.

Since noone else seems to be game: octopi is no less correct than octopodes. Not because I think it's necessarily correct, but because I think that language is something that should be enjoyed. Which is why I form irregular past tenses (thunk, blank, fat) and plurals (boxen, octopi). Shakespeare was a fan of verbing nouns.

Anyone who "corrects" such "mistakes" just doesn't get it.

I agree in general. Having fun with words (or word-funninating, if you will) is the best thing about the English language. We'll never have an Academie Anglais telling what are words and what aren't. But octopi just grates for some reason. I think it's because the person saying it tends to think they're being all clever when they're not.

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.
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Mr. Burke
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Mr. Burke » Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:53 am UTC


mric
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby mric » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:00 am UTC

The only problem with 'octopi' as a plural is the complex social point about the implications of its use.

OK, so it it is wrong from the perspective of the grammar of a source language. That, in itself, is not a problem. We do not reject the word 'tsunamis' because of the incorrect pluralisation in Japanese, and we don't go back to Latin to find a plural form of the (already plural) dative 'bus' or 'omnibus'.

What using 'octopi' says about you is different for different readers/listeners. The problem comes with the implication of an attempt to shove classical erudition into your language use, and the failure of the attempt. Failed attempts at intellectual showing-off can look ugly. Personally, I'm fairly relaxed about it, for exactly the reasons distractedSofty points out, but some people do. Therefore, when using the word formally or publicly, I would avoid it.

The only people who can use the word 'octopodes' without the risk of looking like pompous asses are Hellenists talking lightheartedly to other Hellenists, and even then they should be careful of their audience reaction.

Mirkwood
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Mirkwood » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:02 am UTC

I think the best way to solve the "octopuses" versus "octopodes" debate is to have the proponents of each duke it out in a variety of danger-filled arenae.

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SlyReaper
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby SlyReaper » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:04 am UTC

I don't know if "arenae" is correct or not, but I already hate it.
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spaceLem
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby spaceLem » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:12 am UTC

I'm just registering to show my support for "octopodes". I don't just like it as the correct ending given the word's origins, I think it sounds better too (I love it when my wife pronounces it "octopo-dees").

The same goes for platypus/platypodes.

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Shiyiya
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Shiyiya » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:23 am UTC

Could someone pause in arguing about correct pluralization and tell me what's supposed to be funny about this strip?
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neoliminal
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby neoliminal » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:24 am UTC

My hobby? Making any noun that ends in "p" plural by adding "i".

clampi
twirpi
scallopi
warpi
trollopi
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nathanmacinnes
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby nathanmacinnes » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:37 am UTC

Iranon wrote:Hexadecimal is an artificial mishmash of latin and greek


You mean like the English language?

distractedSofty
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby distractedSofty » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:41 am UTC

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.

Makri
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Makri » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:44 am UTC

I'm just registering to show my support for "octopodes". I don't just like it as the correct ending given the word's origins, I think it sounds better too (I love it when my wife pronounces it "octopo-dees").


I don't know if using the Greek ending, but pronouncing it that way, is any better than saying "octopi". The -es plural ending in Greek has a short e (unlike the Latin -es), so her "octopodees" is a latinate pronunciation of a morphologically hellenistic word.

Also, I have do admit I don't get the "two mimic octopuses" part. Where's the second one, indeed? It's still one mimic octopus with another one that's being mimicked, so all the other tags would have to be "mimic octopus and a ..." What am I missing?
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jonadab
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby jonadab » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:55 am UTC

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...

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Dark Avorian » Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:00 am UTC

For all those asking why there are two mimic octopodes (that's my two cents) in the final picture, it's because, and I'm kind of sad I have to explain this...he's marvelling at the wide array of things they can mimic, and then joking that if you see an actual octopus it can't just be a mimic octopus, it has to be two of them taking on the shape of a single big one.
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Dumbfounded
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Dumbfounded » Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:06 am UTC

The plural 'octopi' goes back over a century and a half, Georges Cuvier uses it in his famous work "The Animal Kingdom", published in 1817, and the word was carried over into the English translations. Octopuses doesn't come into general usage until several decades afterwards and, ironically, the break with Cuvier caused some debate, 'octopuses' being considered a vulgarism.

The plural 'octopodes' is older than both of the others (possibly going back to Linnaeus). But if we are going to honour the word's Greek origins, it should be spelt with a 'k', hence 'oktopodes'.

Personally, I use 'octopi', but pronounce it 'ock-TOW-pee', just to be annoying.

forsaken1111
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby forsaken1111 » Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:20 am UTC

You are all ignoring the more important issue.

What is the climactic scene referred to in 'Lost Boys'?

VentureFree
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby VentureFree » Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:36 am UTC

Here's how it was told to me (I've never taken the time to independently verify it).

"Octopuses" was the original pluralization used because that's just the most common pluralization used in English.
Etymologists (possibly amateur) later considered "octopi" to be the more proper pluralization, harking back to the Latin roots of English.
Then, because the word "octopus" itself actually has Greek roots (as does much of English), the word "octopodes" (awk-top-oh-dees) was introduced as the mostest properest.

According to some people, all three are technically correct. "Octopuses" is considered correct because that's how English is used today, and that's simply the most commonly used pluralization. "Octopi" is considered correct because latinization is common enough to be considered grammatically correct, even in cases where it's not technically correct (see "polyamory"). "Octopodes" is considered correct because it is consistent with the etymological history of the root.

As for me? I try not to say the plural of octopus, because I can't help but make the above speech every time it comes up.

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.

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amorya
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby amorya » Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:40 am UTC

Please send two mongooses.

Please send two mongeese.

Please send one mongoose.
P.S. Please send another one too.

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Mr. Burke
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Mr. Burke » Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:42 am UTC

Shiyiya wrote:Could someone pause in arguing about correct pluralization and tell me what's supposed to be funny about this strip?

I believe it's based on this handy UFO identifaction chart.

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby JPatten » Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:49 am UTC

Please send two mongooses.

Please send two mongeese.

Please send one mongoose.
P.S. Please send another one too.


Please send two Mongii :D :D :D

Apeiron
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Apeiron » Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:57 am UTC

Octopi is wrong even if dictionaries include it. It's hyperforeignization

Dictionaries are generally written by Descriptivists who think that language is whatever people are using, no matter how wrong it is. If enough people used octopepe as the plural some dumbass dictionary writer would slavishly record it.

Never apologize for being right. It's impossible to correct the ignorant and lazy without hurting their feelings, but do it anyway. It's the only way they'll learn.

Furthermore it doesn't matter how longstanding the mistake is, nor how popular the mistake is. If it is wrong, it's wrong.

Some sophomoric halfwit will shout "but but but langwidizz change!!!1!one! LOOLoolOOLLoolo!". Yeah, languages do change, but not all changes are good. Decimate means kill/destroy one tenth (deci!), any other use of it is wrong. Language should not be left to the care of the ignorant and lazy OR THE PEOPLE WHO CODDLE THEM.

Sir Naff
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Sir Naff » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:03 pm UTC

Thank you so much for getting it right. Any marine biologist will tell you that this is the proper way it is done. Also, this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFyY2mK8pxk

JudeMorrigan
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby JudeMorrigan » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:07 pm UTC

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.

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby quantropy » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:10 pm UTC

Opera is the plural of opus.
So clearly octopera is the plural of octopus.

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Vnend
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Vnend » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:16 pm UTC

jpk wrote:If there are two of them, would it be a hexapus?


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

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SirMustapha
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby SirMustapha » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:22 pm UTC

Mr. Burke wrote:
Shiyiya wrote:Could someone pause in arguing about correct pluralization and tell me what's supposed to be funny about this strip?

I believe it's based on this handy UFO identifaction chart.


So Randall took a funny chart and made an unfunny version of it, and that's the joke?

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Vnend
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Vnend » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:24 pm UTC

phlip wrote:Less a reference to that, more the same joke as that... both that and the xkcd strip are making references to this sort of identification chart.


I love that that one has the basking shark and the guppy the same size.

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Vnend
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Vnend » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:32 pm UTC

TheTomahawk wrote:From the Oxford English Dictionary
...
USAGE
The standard plural in English of octopus is octopuses. However, the word octopus comes from Greek and the Greek plural form octopodes is still occasionally used. The plural form octopi, formed according to rules for Latin plurals, is incorrect.

So, octopuses, not octopodes, in English. (spell checker in my browser fails to recognise either octopodes or octopi as being valid spellings)


That isn't what the OED says. It says that octopuses is the most commonly used plural, but, as an 18th century creation from Greek, that the proper Greek plural form octopodes is also used and is properly formed. Octopi is right out.

(The OED staff won't admit it, but "octopi" is therefore destined to win out, the same way that I am seeing 'slayed' instead of 'slew' and 'oxes' instead of 'oxen'.)

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Vnend
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Vnend » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:51 pm UTC

Mr. Burke wrote:
Shiyiya wrote:Could someone pause in arguing about correct pluralization and tell me what's supposed to be funny about this strip?

I believe it's based on this handy UFO identifaction chart.


Which is in turn based on aircraft ID cards used by plane spotters during WWII.

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Vnend
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby Vnend » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:54 pm UTC

SirMustapha wrote:So Randall took a funny chart and made an unfunny version of it, and that's the joke?


I will not feed the energy creature.
I will not feed the energy creature.
I will not feed the energy creature.
I will not feed the energy creature.
I will not feed the energy creature.
...

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby SpringLoaded12 » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:55 pm UTC

SirMustapha wrote:
Mr. Burke wrote:
Shiyiya wrote:Could someone pause in arguing about correct pluralization and tell me what's supposed to be funny about this strip?

I believe it's based on this handy UFO identifaction chart.


So Randall took a funny chart and made an unfunny version of it, and that's the joke?

No, the joke is that all the sea creatures in Southeast Asia are actually mimic octopi (Shut up, I've always said octopi) making themselves look like those creatures.
I don't see how you can find the weather balloon chart funny, but not the mimic octopus chart. I think you're lying, or deluding yourself.
"It's easy to forget what a sin is in the middle of a battlefield." "Opposite over hypotenuse, dipshit."

HFXRCUR
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby HFXRCUR » Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:13 pm UTC

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).


You're right.

So... dekaxipus?

ViperFUD
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby ViperFUD » Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:29 pm UTC

Mr. Burke wrote:It isn't correct until a pretty woman tells you.


Son,

I am disappoint.

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TaylorP
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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby TaylorP » Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:49 pm UTC

Iranon wrote:It just sounds as if it wants to be octopussies (which sounds like the central plot point in a really bad porn movie).


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086034/

It's a Bond film!

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby thesingingaccountant » Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:52 pm UTC

It's amazing how many posts discuss 'octopi' vs. 'octopuses' vs. 'octopodes' with 'octapus' thrown in for good measure, how many posts discuss math that makes my head spin (in a good way), and how few posts discuss the main body of the comic. I've thoroughly enjoyed following the entire discussion this morning. Now for my two cents' worth...

It looks to me as though our esteemed artist illustrated today's comic by silhouetting as many different images as he could find quickly in the movie 'Finding Nemo'. I loved it.

I am of the opinion that 'octopi', 'octopuses' and 'octopodes' are all equally incorrect based on the fact that English is a huge scrap bag of bits and pieces from many different languages. The most important thing is that your audience understand the idea you were trying to communicate. This is why I gave up being annoyed by the use of 'ain't', which was not an accepted word until recently. As long as everyone understands everyone else, the actual words used are unimportant.

And finally...

Please send two mongooses.

Please send two mongeese.


Please send one mongoose.
P.S. Please send another one too.


amorya, you just made my day. :-D

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Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Postby merry » Fri Jul 22, 2011 2:08 pm UTC

I registered just so I could say that this is probably my favorite comments thread of any xkcd, ever. I'd like to submit "octoplural" for consideration. Now off to read "Lost Boys."


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