Is it octopuses or octopi? What about mongooses? Are they mongeese?

Sure, you can use plural –s, but do you know your way around the unusual plurals of English?

Have no fear — linguist Daniel Midgley takes you through the ins and outs on this episode of Talk the Talk.

Listen to this episode

Or subscribe via iTunes
Click here for more options: How to listen to Talk the Talk

Promo with James Hall

Show notes

Cambridge is leaving apostrophes out of new street names

Grammar pedants are pissed

Sometimes the apostrophe can convey information about history, as in “Queens’ College”

Plural -s comes from Old English

More about Old English nouns

But -n forms were popular too, and some have persisted.

The plural for ‘man’ underwent i-mutation.

What’s i-mutation?

And how about those -us forms?

Not everything that ends in -us pluralises as -i.

There are second declension masculine nouns that end in -us

but there are also third declension neuter nouns, also ending in -us.

Cactus is cacti though.

Octopus isn’t Latin really.

Octopuses is the most popular.

Toyota wants the plural of Prius to be Prii. They had a vote.

Here’s a big ol’ list of plural forms

Here’s another.

‘Selfie’ is semantically mutating–but-selfobsessed-portraiture-isnt-just-a-modern-phenomenon-9234004.html

Show tunes

‘Stars Are Stars’ by Echo and the Bunnymen
from the album Seven Seas / Life at Brian’s (EP)

‘Outlines and Colours’ by Runner
from the album RTRfm In the Pines 20th Anniversary