Thursday, March 17, 2011

Octopi or Octopuses?

I’ve noticed the trend in octopus plurals moving from “octopi,” which I was taught as a child, to “octopuses,” which I see more and more in text. Why? Is this another sign of the gradually declining state of education? Apparently, there’s more to the story.

I came across a quote from a book titled My Grammar and I . . . Or Should That Be Me? by Caroline Taggart and J.A. Wines at the Pioneer Woman.

Octopus is a one-word minefield, because it is a Latinized form of the Greek word oktopous, whose “correct” plural form would be octopodes. But according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, today the correct form of the plural is octopuses or octopi.”

I think I’m going with OCTOPODES.

In totally unrelated but more serious news, check out this earthquake preparedness article. I have been refreshing our emergency cache and have realized that it doesn’t contain any, ahem, feminine hygiene supplies. I will be addressing that on our next shopping trip.

And in an inspiring post by a long-time American living in Japan, we learn about their preparedness culture. This is just one man’s experience, but it’s enlightening, and I particularly love his quote about how “there is no word for excessive preparation in Japanese.”

5 comments:

Bob said...

Good thing the plural hippopotamus is hippopotamuses and not hippopotami

Stimey said...

What's next? Platypuses? Clearly it should be platypi, although I do approve of platypodes.

taroka said...

Luckily I've had almost no need to ever talk about octopus in plural form and can escape that awkward moment of 'which word to use?' ...

but that must be different in your household with its many fun, plush and non-plush octopodes!
-TB

Asianmommy said...

We were taught octopi when I was growing up.

mayberry said...

That is the kind of detail that needs to be shared widely. (I originally meant to just refer to octopi/octopodes, but then I realizes it covers both parts of the post!)