On 2/1/06, Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:
> Quoting Ciaran Costelloe (ccostelloe at flogas.ie):
>> > Are you sure? The word originally meant a poisonous substance, as in
> > the pus from an ulcer.
>> It's what the dictionaries seem to say -- though I'll not be able to
> check my _OED_ until I get home. Does it matter? The English plural
> would be formed with -es even if the word came from Outer Mongolia.
Actually, you can - it's free to access online until 21:30GMT tonight,
and bits of it are accessible thereafter.
> > More correct than the vernacular usage: most people use the word fish
> > where they should be using fishes.
As a linguist, I have to object to the idea of "correct" vs
"vernacular". Fish is the collective noun for many individual fish,
regardless of colour or creed. Fishes is an entirely acceptable
substitute under certain conditions, and is neither more nor less
"correct". Unlike many languages, and, I think, to its credit, English
does not have a single body determining what is and isn't correct -
"correctness" is primarily a function of usage.
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