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PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:10 pm 
Avisaru
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The usual plural for "deer" is "deer". For some reason, this lack of a different plural form seems to have spread to other deer-like animals, like "elk", "antelope", and "caribou". Perhaps the fact that "moose" doesn't have a different plural form re-enforces this idea even more.

Googling for "three elk" and "three elks" seems to confirm this for every animal that I've mentioned. Do other anglophones feel this aversion to plural forms for deer-like animals too?


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:39 pm 
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I get the impression that it is the same for all game animals - do hunters not also do the same for grouse and partridge?

I've always thought of it as being psychologically motivated - referring to animals as mass nouns, a kind of stuff or material almost, when hunting them, viewing them as "hunting fodder" rather than the individuals that a plural would imply - and then passing into general use.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:26 pm 
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But with deer and sheep, the unmarked plurals go all the way back to Proto-Germanic. (German Tiere and Schafe are innovations.)

Grouse is originally a plural which was later used collectively.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:37 pm 
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Same thing happens with fish. Of course all the ones that end in -fish are singular, but even most of the ones that don't but are typically fished for. In fact I'm having trouble thinking of fish that do take plural regularly...shark, ray, eel...what else?


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:55 pm 
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Cúlro wrote:
I get the impression that it is the same for all game animals - do hunters not also do the same for grouse and partridge?

I've always thought of it as being psychologically motivated - referring to animals as mass nouns, a kind of stuff or material almost, when hunting them, viewing them as "hunting fodder" rather than the individuals that a plural would imply - and then passing into general use.

Interesting theory, but it doesn't seem to apply to all groups of animals.
Not birds: the plurals "five birds", "five ducks", "five pheasants", "five geese" are well alive.
But indeed fish, it seems: "five fish", "five walleye", "five northern pike", "five bluegill", (maybe "five muskie") (Forgive me if you don't know any of these fish; They are the ones that I know best.)
Not penned animals: Yes, "five sheep", but "five cows", "five goats", "five pigs", "five chickens".
I'm not sure about lobsters or crabs though.

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But with deer and sheep, the unmarked plurals go all the way back to Proto-Germanic. (German Tiere and Schafe are innovations.)

His theory could explain why it expanded beyond these couple words. What merged the singular and plural of these words in the beginning, anyways? Sound-change?


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:08 am 
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Rounding out the game animals, 'boars' is only the plural for male boar, boar in general are called 'boar'. And 'partridge' can just be called partridge, though they can also be partridges. Plus of course 'fowl' and 'game' themselves.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:35 pm 
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clawgrip wrote:
Same thing happens with fish. Of course all the ones that end in -fish are singular, but even most of the ones that don't but are typically fished for. In fact I'm having trouble thinking of fish that do take plural regularly...shark, ray, eel...what else?


But you still hear fishes...

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:37 pm 
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araceli wrote:
clawgrip wrote:
Same thing happens with fish. Of course all the ones that end in -fish are singular, but even most of the ones that don't but are typically fished for. In fact I'm having trouble thinking of fish that do take plural regularly...shark, ray, eel...what else?

But you still hear fishes...

Where outside of expressions like "sleep with the fishes" or Three Dog Night songs?


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:53 pm 
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linguoboy wrote:
araceli wrote:
clawgrip wrote:
Same thing happens with fish. Of course all the ones that end in -fish are singular, but even most of the ones that don't but are typically fished for. In fact I'm having trouble thinking of fish that do take plural regularly...shark, ray, eel...what else?

But you still hear fishes...

Where outside of expressions like "sleep with the fishes" or Three Dog Night songs?

Google suggests the BBC, Slate, the National History Museum, the National Gallery, four pubs/restaurants, three different christian charities, numerous books and websites, and an online collection of the works of Hiroshige.

Surveying it, it seems to me to be an old form that has survived in the places you'd expect old forms to survive - technical uses (eg 'ray-lobed fishes', 'bony fishes', rather than fish), cultural uses (eg the titles of works of art), references to older works (eg the charities are all references to old bible translations and their miracle of the 'loaves and fishes'), and proper names (pub names can often perpetuate many older or more dialectical features). Plus uses around children.

Outside of that, I'd also be tempted to use it when I was referring to a number of definite individual fish - eg if I had fish, I might say "I gave the fishes some food", if they were a small number of fish I knew individually (rather than a big shoal).

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:50 pm 
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Terra wrote:
But indeed fish, it seems: "five fish", "five walleye", "five northern pike", "five bluegill", (maybe "five muskie") (Forgive me if you don't know any of these fish; They are the ones that I know best.)
I'm not sure about lobsters or crabs though.


five salmon, five trout, five halibut ... it's a pretty consistent pattern
five squid! (but I wouldn't wince at "squids" like I would at say "trouts", which is just no)

five lobsters, five crabs ... these take plural forms (but their meat is of course noncount)

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 28, 2014 1:27 am 
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Kereb wrote:
Terra wrote:
But indeed fish, it seems: "five fish", "five walleye", "five northern pike", "five bluegill", (maybe "five muskie") (Forgive me if you don't know any of these fish; They are the ones that I know best.)
I'm not sure about lobsters or crabs though.


five salmon, five trout, five halibut ... it's a pretty consistent pattern
five squid! (but I wouldn't wince at "squids" like I would at say "trouts", which is just no)

five lobsters, five crabs ... these take plural forms (but their meat is of course noncount)

I don't live by the ocean, so I didn't think of those fish. Anyways, it's certainly "dolphins" and "whales" too.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:58 pm 
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Cúlro wrote:
I get the impression that it is the same for all game animals - do hunters not also do the same for grouse and partridge?
Yeah, that's how I understood it as well. Also consider that "deer" once was the general term for all large game, rather than specifically the medium antlered type we now associate with the name.

It's not a rule, and of course there are exceptions, but it sure is a strong *pattern* to collectivize unpenned food animals. The unmarked plurals all seem to be for that type of animal, even if not all of those animals have unmarked plurals.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 30, 2014 1:53 pm 
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Do expressions like "forty-two head of cattle" apply here?

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:34 pm 
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For me, "I'm going out hunting pheasant" would be OK, but not *"there are five pheasant in that field". And similarly for "elk" etc.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:47 pm 
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For me, neither of those work with "pheasant", but both do with "elk".


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:47 pm 
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Terra wrote:
Perhaps the fact that "moose" doesn't have a different plural form re-enforces this idea even more.


The correct plural of "moose" is "meese." I thought everyone knew this?

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:37 pm 
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Rhetorica wrote:
Terra wrote:
Perhaps the fact that "moose" doesn't have a different plural form re-enforces this idea even more.


The correct plural of "moose" is "meese." I thought everyone knew this?


The modern English umlauting plural everyone forgets. As conlangers we, of all people, should know this.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 4:10 pm 
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Conlenger.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 9:34 am 
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Hmm, the phrase "Look at all the X!" seems to fit most animals, the exceptions seem to be harder to find. You could say "Look at all the lobster!" refering to an aquarium or something full of live lobster, or "Look at all the vulture in that field!" but not when talking about pig or shark.

I kind of get the feeling that the cases where it's allowable there's almost a missing suffix "-kind" at the end. "Look at all the vulture(kind)!" yet "I saw five vultures." Collective noun.

I don't think it has to do with hunting, impersonalisation has little to do with it. People have been butchering their livestock they get to know as well as any human friend for millenia and that doesn't interfere much, and often hunting is described as a specific connection to your prey.

Astraios wrote:
Conlenger.

Somehow, that's more intuitive than I'd expect...

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 10:13 am 
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mouse wrote:
Hmm, the phrase "Look at all the X!" seems to fit most animals, the exceptions seem to be harder to find. You could say "Look at all the lobster!" refering to an aquarium or something full of live lobster, or "Look at all the vulture in that field!" but not when talking about pig or shark.

I kind of get the feeling that the cases where it's allowable there's almost a missing suffix "-kind" at the end. "Look at all the vulture(kind)!" yet "I saw five vultures." Collective noun.

I don't think it has to do with hunting, impersonalisation has little to do with it. People have been butchering their livestock they get to know as well as any human friend for millenia and that doesn't interfere much, and often hunting is described as a specific connection to your prey.

Astraios wrote:
Conlenger.

Somehow, that's more intuitive than I'd expect...


Lots of hunting also, throughout history and up to this day, ritualizes this connection with the prey, e.g. eating a bit of the still-warm heart and the like, in a way that definitely doesn't really seem to support the contention presented earlier.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 10:36 am 
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mouse wrote:
Hmm, the phrase "Look at all the X!" seems to fit most animals, the exceptions seem to be harder to find. You could say "Look at all the lobster!" refering to an aquarium or something full of live lobster, or "Look at all the vulture in that field!" but not when talking about pig or shark.


Not IMD. You might be able to get away, just, with 'look at all the lobster', maybe because people might think you were treating the lobsters as future food, or maybe because they might think you were talking about the lobsters as though they were fish... but 'look at all the vulture' is just plain totally ungrammatical IMD.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 3:37 pm 
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Astraios wrote:
Conlenger.


Beem. (umlauting plural of "boom".)

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 3:42 pm 
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Rhetorica wrote:
Terra wrote:
Perhaps the fact that "moose" doesn't have a different plural form re-enforces this idea even more.


The correct plural of "moose" is "meese." I thought everyone knew this?


So, could you call moose nuggets...

...meese's pieces?

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 3:38 pm 
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linguoboy wrote:
But with deer and sheep, the unmarked plurals go all the way back to Proto-Germanic. (German Tiere and Schafe are innovations.)

Do they? According to Wiktionary (not the best source for this stuff, I know, but it should be accurate in this case), Proto-Germanic had the singular *deuzą and the plural *deuzō for deer, and *skēpą / *skēpō for sheep. I think it's more accurate to say that they go back to Old English, where the final vowels dropped off both for the singulars and the plurals, leaving just dēor and scēap. I guess this is a little nitpicky considering the same development happened (almost) throughout Germanic, but I think Gothic, as usual, is the exception.

Terra wrote:
His theory could explain why it expanded beyond these couple words. What merged the singular and plural of these words in the beginning, anyways? Sound-change?

I believe it happened to all a-stem neuter nouns with heavy stem syllables, i.e. stem syllables with long vowels and/or final clusters, so other examples include folk, word, work etc. However, almost all the words in question later acquired regular plurals with -s. At some point these null plurals seem to have become associated with animals in particular, which is a little ironic considering nouns for animals are rarely neuter.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 3:52 pm 
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Herra Ratatoskr wrote:
Rhetorica wrote:
Terra wrote:
Perhaps the fact that "moose" doesn't have a different plural form re-enforces this idea even more.


The correct plural of "moose" is "meese." I thought everyone knew this?


So, could you call moose nuggets...

...meese's pieces?


BBC-friendly version: meese pee?

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