my adventures

There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good, she was very good indeed, but when she was bad, she was horrid.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, July 25, 2011

Grammatical musings

"Yes," she said. "'I Been Working on the Railroad.'There's just two things I'm worried about with that: the grammar and the use of slave labor."   ~Lorrie Moore (A Gate at the Stairs)
Recent irritation with a crossword puzzle that used the word "elks" as the answer for the clue "Caribou's cousin", had me doing grammatical research online.  Apparently "elks" is perfectly acceptable as the plural of elk, although "elk" can be considered both plural and singular and is my personal preference.  You can say either:

Cara shot the biggest elk of all the elks in the forest.
Cara shot the biggest elk of all the elk in the forest.

I guess as long as Cara is able to fill her tag and it gets the right Boone and Crockett score, the grammar isn't a big deal where elk or elks are concerned.  Still, "elks" sounds a little dumb, right?

I did also learn the following interesting tidbits:

"Platypi" and "platypodes", though both technically incorrect, are colloquial plurals for "platypus."  However you would never say "On a recent sojourn to Australia, I was charged by a herd of platypodes" because, apparently, they don't travel in herds.  And it's probably a good thing they don't, because male platypi have a spur on their hind feet that can deliver a venom capable of causing severe pain to humans.  Who knew?  Thus says Wikipedia.

"Weed-ate", "weed-eated", and "Weed Eatered" are all acceptable past tense forms of the verb "to weed eat" when used in casual converation.  Although, since Weed Eater is a brand name, it's better to say "trimmed" when speaking or writing formally.  Which leaves me wondering how much formal writing is done about Weed Eaters. 

Finally, the word "Defenestration" means "a throwing of a person or a thing out of a window; or a usually swift expulsion or dismissal."  This was a new one to me - it appeals to my sesquipedalian (also a new word) tendencies. 

Extra points to anyone who uses the word "platypodes" in casual conversation this week...


  1. That defenestration issue with Alex and the Purple Fog Hot Wheels car was neatly avoided when you applied the child safety window lock today as we were leaving Molalla.

  2. So fun to find your blog. Perfect one to jump in on also...Me and MY Elks and all. Totally will use platypodes in a conversation.

  3. Oddly enough I was using "platypi" in casual emailing recently, ha! And I ran into the "which is right?" problem also.

    I've also been using "weed eated" in casual conversation since I used a...trimmer... for the first time ever yesterday.

    Have you ever heard this?

  4. All I can say is Lisa you are way smarter than me! I would never have thought about any of that stuff! I do not even know if I can say platypode correctly.
    You are awesome!

  5. This just deepens my conviction that the plural for "Hernandez" should be "Hernandi."

    And tomorrow my new goal in life is to bring up platypode in casual conversation!