Saturday, April 25, 2009

Boxes, Oxes, Geese, and Meese

From World Wide Words, a poetic presentation of the perils of plurals in English. By the great author, Anonymous, ca. 1896.

The Poem begins:

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.
Then one fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of mouse should never be meese,
You may find a lone mouse or a whole nest of mice,
But the plural of house is houses, not hice.

and, after several further examples of the wonkiness of English pluralization, concludes,

We speak of a brother, and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren,
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine she, shis and shim,

So the English, I think, you all will agree,
Is the queerest language you ever did see.

You can read the whole poem via the link above. It made me smile.

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