Saturday, May 17, 2014

Two of them




We were playing in the sandpit. Granddaughter got really quite sandy.

Grandson looked to the side. "There's a woodmouse," he said.

I was surprised but impressed at his detailed knowledge of species of mouse. I looked but could see no mouse.

"Where?" I asked.

He pointed. To a woodlouse.

Nearly.

That got me thinking about plurals. I suppose the plural of woodlouse is woodlice. Certainly the plural of headlouse is headlice. But how about the sort of story in which a woman says, "He's a louse. But in my opinion, all men are...".  Surely not "... lice"? Might it be "... all men are louses"? I don't read that sort of story enough to be sure.

(Note that this is a fictional piece of fiction. I don't myself hold this view of men. And in Scotland we usually call woodlice slaters, thus avoiding the plural problem. I believe that they are pillbugs in America.)

11 comments:

  1. Oh my, Miss Isabelle, you and your thoughts! Though have no idea if they are pillbugs I still call them wood lotuses ;)

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  2. Well good try....woodlouses!

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  3. I think we call them slaters in Australia. Makes me wonder whether the Scots brought theirs here.
    And what about house - hice?

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  4. roly poly ... that's what we call them in colorado ... i'll let you decide how to spell more than one...

    as for negative descriptive terms for a not nice man ... well ... my own language is a bit more colorful, with the added benefit of just adding an "s" to make them plural...

    and i agree that not ALL men are not nice...

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  5. We call them slaters too.

    I have often wondered.....if the plural of mouse is mice, does it then follow that the plural of spouse is spice? If a woman has had more than one husband, can she then refer to her spice?

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  6. I know what Australian slaters look like, but don't know what a wood louse is. Nor have I heard of a wood mouse. Unless it is a carved 'wooden' mouse, but I doubt if that is what you were referring to. I suppose there is more than one kind of mouse here, but the only ones that I (and the cats) find are little brown or grey ones.

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  7. We call them woodlice but the seaside variety (who like old seaweed on the beach) are called sea slaters.

    Lovely to see your two young ones playing in the sand pit.

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  8. Ahhh. Thank you for saying what a woodlouse is -- I had no idea -- but I DO know what a pillbug is! We spent hours playing with them as children.

    And how fun to see the babies in the sandbox -- looks like they're going to have a fun summer! Little L is growing too quickly!!!

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  9. Marilyn Monroe most definitely sang "that's when those louses, go back to their spouses" and if it's good enough for her....

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  10. I've looked in two dictionaries and they agree that the plural of louse is lice. However, woodlice are not lice. Lice are insects whereas woodlice are crustaceans - more like lobsters than lice.

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