weird plural form

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by mathman, May 22, 2021.

  1. mathman Valued Senior Member

    There are (al least) three common nouns which a weird plural form (goose, tooth, foot) to (geese, teeth, feet). How dis this come about (language origin?)? Why doesn't foot rhyme with others (compare with boot)?
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  3. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    To lazy to investigate but will take a wild stab that each word was absorbed from a different language with different rules

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  5. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    I got beet for my feet.
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  7. Janus58 Valued Senior Member

    You think English has weird rules for plurals, Try Finnish
    General rule: Add "t" ( this works because so many Finnish words end a vowel)
    Koira - dog
    Koirat- dogs

    However, if the last syllable of the Word has k,p,t,kk,pp, or tt, then the following rules apply
    K is removed from the word
    Sika -pig
    Siat -pigs

    P becomes V
    Lupa- permission
    Luvat - permissions

    T becomes D
    Äiti - mom
    Äidit - moms

    With the double consonants, you drop one of them
    Takki - jacket
    Takit -jackets

    Noppa- dia
    Nopat -dice

    Kettu -fox
    Ketut -foxes

    Some words end with "nen", in this case, the "nen" is replaced with "set"
    Nainen - woman
    Naiset - women

    With words ending with "i", its depends on whether is is a "new" or "old" word.
    An example of a new word:
    Paperi - paper
    In which case you use the general rule and add t
    Paperit -papers

    With old words, the i is changed to e
    Meri- sea

    Siipi -wing
    Siivet - wings ( note the P to V rule)

    Old words ending in "si", "si" becomes "de"
    Vuosi - year
    Vuodet - years

    If the word ends in e, add another e

    Perhe - family
    Perheet- families (note on double vowels: it doesn't change the vowel sound, you just carry it a bit longer)

    and these aren't totally inclusive of all the rules, for example
    Mies - man
    Miehet - men

    Poika - boy
    Pojat - boys

    To add to the fun, the plural case is also applied to the adjective describing the noun.
    New room - uusi huone
    New rooms - uudet huoneet

    And this doesn't touch on the other cases
    For example
    These boys will chase those boys - Nämä pojat jahtaavat noita poikia.
    With both pojat and poikia being "boys" but one is the subject and the other the object.
  8. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    It's all about i-mutation in older words. From what I understand, older plurals of words with Germanic origin used to have additional suffixes, and due to laziness in pronunciation (a simplistic description of i-mutation) over hundreds of years, these became shortened. However, a more standard approach became adopted of shoving an s at the end, and newer words tended to follow this rule, but words in more common usage (such as foot / feet) retained their older plurals rather than gradually adopt the -s approach. Some of the older plurals died out in favour of the -s, though.
    For example, the original words for "friend / friends" would have been friond / friend - with friend being the plural of friond. But over time, due to laziness to maintain that distinction, the words changed due to i-mutation to the ones we know and use today.

    I say "laziness" - but in a world where there are any number of dialects and accents, differences in pronunciation of vowels could well have caused confusion in understanding, and moving to "rules" that worked regardless of pronunciation may have just been for practical reasons.
    geordief likes this.
  9. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    The movie "Nell" is a wonderful example of how language may become distorted due to isolation from the larger civilization.
    sideshowbob likes this.

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