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.


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.)


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

  2. Well good try....woodlouses!

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

  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...

  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?

  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.

  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.

  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!!!

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

  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.