Category talk:English nouns with irregular plurals

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search

-es words[edit]

Shouldn't we include words that take the ending -es in the plural, like "potato", "mosquito", and "hero" do? Most lists (in my experience) of irregular plurals include these. Ncik 0:15 04 Jul 2005

That's debatable, really. It used to be the convention, pretty much all older words ending in -o end in -es in the plural nowadays. Newer forms don't seem to do that anymore. There are many (including myself, as it so happens) who advocate the use of -es as a regular plural for these, much like -y becomes -ies, but there are those who disagree, and it seems the most common. There are even those who propose using such constructions as "tomato~s", but that has little currency. In this case, I think it's reasonable to add them, purely on the basis that there is no set pattern, and -s is our default. --Wytukaze 4 July 2005 22:24 (UTC)
I was thinking about this the other day and didn't know enough about the situation. The lack of a set pattern is definitely what this category is about so they do indeed belong here. I don't see very much in this "older forms" vs "newer forms" business. Potato (1565), mosquito (1583), and tomato (1604/1753) came into English in the same era, hero (1387) came earlier. Both potatoes and tomatos bring their names from Amerindian languages and didn't orginally have an "o" at all. — Hippietrail 5 July 2005 03:34 (UTC)

Which plurals to count as irregular — a proposal Having read the Wikipedia article on English irregular plurals, I propose including all singulars to this list except those that:

  • are symbols or letters and form their plural by adding -s or -’s
  • are not proper nouns, end in a consonant + y, and form their plural by removing the -y and adding -ies
  • end in a sibilant (one of [s], [ʃ], [z], [ʒ]) and form their plural by adding -es
  • are not subject to one of the above rules and form their plural by adding -s

Note the following effects of the unneccessarily cumbersome looking formulation of these rules:

hero, tomato, potato, mosquito, etc. count as irregular; piano, solo, portico, etc. as regular
zloty and henry count as irregular
Harry and Germany count as regular

(At least) one point remains: What do we do with plurals denoting a group of nationals of a country, e.g. "the French", "the Chinese", etc? Ncik 23:41, 23 August 2005 (UTC)

Don't those count as collective nouns, which thus wouldn't require a plural? Am I entirely wrong here?
And I agree, we should add all of those you mentioned. --Wytukaze 23:55, 23 August 2005 (UTC)
Another question of mine lacking precision. I meant to ask: Should we add the singular "Chinese" (as "one Chinese person") because its plural is "Chinese" (as "the Chinese", "all Chinese people")? The "French" example fails, I just notice. Ncik 00:10, 24 August 2005 (UTC)

Category name[edit]

Dvortygirl intuitively added wives to this category. Maybe we should rename this category English words with irregular plurals or even English singulars with irregular plurals, and reserve this category for the actual plural forms. Otherwise we should try to find a name for a category in which we can put the actual plurals. Ncik 23:48, 23 August 2005 (UTC)

The name as it is seems to be for irregular plurals, to me. The singulars shouldn't be added, if we're going to go ahead with giving each inflection an article. --Wytukaze 23:55, 23 August 2005 (UTC)
The category was initiated by Hippietrail as it seems, and when I came across it, there were only singular forms in it, and it never occurred to me (nor to Hippietrail, apparently) to add plurals. Ncik 00:10, 24 August 2005 (UTC)
It did occur to me but it seemed that it would just add clutter to add anything but the citation forms and clutter would make the category less useful in my opinion. Is anybody having an actual problem with it the way it is or would the addition of inflected forms be only to take the category to its logical conclusion regardless of whether that would help or hinder?
Seems I replied before reading but the same goes for renaming the category. The proposed names are much more awkward to me. If the category explains what it is for there is no need to make awkwardly precise category names. — Hippietrail 23:08, 24 August 2005 (UTC)
I think it would be useful to have a separate category exclusively for plural forms (in the same way we have Category:English irregular verbs and Category:English irregular verb forms). I just can't think of a concise and elegant name for it. English irregular plural forms or English irregular actual plurals? Hardly. Ncik 08:05, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

I'm having trouble with this - a year on and there is no proper place to put feet and oxen! Let's move this to Category:English nouns with irregular plurals and make this the category for the irregular plurals themselves! And better yet, make subcats like Category:English irregular plurals ending in "-i", Category:English irregular plurals ending in "-ae", Category:English plurals ending in "-en", Category:English irregular plurals ending in "-ves". bd2412 T 02:23, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

Could we accept some more from this list as regular[edit]

To my mind, pedanticaly listing Englishman/Englishmen, Englishwoman/Englishwomen etc is unecessary, as this is covered simply by man/men, and woman/women ?

Also, words ending in a, taking the plural ending ae, to me are regular. They follow a straightforward rule. --Richardb 15:08, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

You might like to read some books about language. Though there are patterns for a great number of irregular verbs or irregular plurals, they are still considered irregular since those patters are seldom ever used in forming new words. For instance, the newest English irregular past tense is snuck, which some people still find unacceptable. The only productive past tense and past participle suffix is -ed, the only procuctive plural suffix is -(s)s. Compound nouns are a case somewhere in between but we need to include them because the plural of manhole is not menhole and the plural of Doberman is not Dobermen. They are both regular despite apparently consisting of a noun which on its own would be irregular. There are bound to be many other cases.
You might want to argue for separate categories for compound and non-compound nouns but that seems pretty complicated for little gain. — Hippietrail 18:45, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

Labelling plurals as “irregular” and/or “nonstandard”: important points from a discussion concerning the case study “scenarii[edit]

Connel MacKenzie, Robert Ullmann, and I have recently been discussing how we ought to label irregular plurals; in particular, the word scenarii (plural form of scenario), as well as any other word formed according unto the “‘-o’ → ‘-i’” rule (absorbed from Italian). According unto the definition given atop this category page, scenarii is clearly an irregular plural; that is not contested. However, disgreement arose as unto whether to label scenarii as an irregular plural as part of its definition; Connel MacKenzie and Robert Ullmann both argued that it should be, whereäs I argued unto the contrary. The reasons behind both positions can be found on my talk page. Secondly, Connel MacKenzie also asserted that scenarii ought to be tagged as “nonstandard” — I disagreed. I believe that we are in agreement that if scenarii were to be tagged as “nonstandard”, it would be necessary to do the same unto every plural formed according unto the “‘-o’ → ‘-i’” rule.

Our (Connel’s and my) positions, as far as I see are:

  • We agree that:
    • Scenarii is an irregular plural;
    • It should therefore be part of Category:English nouns with irregular plurals.
    • Any word that is not part of standard English, ought to be labelled as such.
    • Whichsoever tags are applied unto scenarii, ought also to be applied unto every plural formed according unto the “‘-o’ → ‘-i’” rule.
  • We disagree as unto whether:
    • Scenarii, or indeed any plural form, ought to be labelled as “irregular” as part of its definition (he believes so, I believe not).
    • Scenarii, and therefore every plural formed according unto the “‘-o’ → ‘-i’” rule, is standard English or not (I believe so, he believes not).

Connel recently wrote: I think the main thrust of the discussion at English nouns with irregular plurals is that the most common / normal plural form is the one we should “recommend”. — is this so?

Where do others stand? Perhaps a policy could be formulated to deal with the issues raised hereïn. Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 18:31, 7 January 2007 (UTC) Postscriptum: This is only mine interpretation of the discussion, and therefore may be biased. I ask that Connel MacKenzie and Robert Ullmann write a short message each to confirm or correct what I have written.

I confirm that what is stated above accurately reflects my position on the topic. I hope to hear from a decent segment of the community here — more than four or five people’s comments. Thank you for reducing all that discourse to this brief summary! --Connel MacKenzie 19:28, 7 January 2007 (UTC)
Well now, you are persistent! Scenarios is the regular plural of scenario and scenarii is clearly irregular since it is not used regularly. There seems to be a few folk here whose agenda is to present their own interpretation of English as the norm. Just because scenarii is etymologically correct or so it might seem, does not give it any merit over scenarios which is the standard. I think scenarii is irregular and nonstandard and should be labelled as such.--Williamsayers79 18:51, 7 January 2007 (UTC)
I think “etymologically correct” is a misleading term that should be avoided. In certain academic contexts, the romance language rules for plural formation may make more sense (e.g. octipii, virii) but the term “etymologically correct” doesn’t convey that very well. --Connel MacKenzie 19:28, 7 January 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps “etymologically consistent”? ~As “etymologically derived” is vague, and “etymologically correct” carries an implicit value judgement. By the way, I think you mean octopodes (and virus doesn’t have an “etymologically consistent” plural, being as it is a Latin mass noun). Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 19:37, 7 January 2007 (UTC)
Since the topic is hypercorrection, no. I did mean in certain contexts “octopi”. --Connel MacKenzie 06:50, 8 January 2007 (UTC)
As I stated above, there is no disagreement that Scenarii is an irregular plural; however, it is irregular not due unto the fact that it is rarely used, but rather because it is formed in a manner contrary unto the definition of a “regular plural” given on this category page. Please state why you think scenarii ought to be labelled as “irregular” as part of its definition, by addressing mine arguments unto the contrary. As for your view that scenarii is “nonstandard”, do you therefore agree that all plurals formed according unto the “‘-o’ → ‘-i’” rule should be labelled “nonstandard” as well; if not, why not?
I followed policy by providing three citations, spanning at least a year, all from durably archived sources. I have proven that scenarii is used in English. I merely applied Wiktionary’s interpretation of what English is. I therefore ask that you refrain from making veiled personal attacks. Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 19:22, 7 January 2007 (UTC)
I can’t argue technical grammar or linguistics with you, since IANAL (where L = Linguist), so I’ll approach this from an end user perspective. If I were to write a paper for a class, and used scenarii as the plural of scenario — I would get marked off for spelling. Unfortunately, Wiktionary is full of such esoteric entries, many of which are not properly marked as being “nonstandard”, thus it makes a poor reference for the average student. --Versageek 20:25, 7 January 2007 (UTC)
Are you sure? I have used scenarii in two Law essays thus far, and am yet to be “corrected” (and I assure you that both my tutrices are excellent at spotting errata). Anyhow, whilst this is a legitimate concern, Wiktionary would have to be a lot more prescriptive if it were to be a good reference for students, as the standard of English required in academia is far higher than it is in less formal contexts. Therefore, if this reasoning were to be used to reject scenarii, then a great many other entries would also have to rejected under the same reasoning. Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 20:43, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

[realigning] — Yes, I’m sure. I’m talking about general studies at the local community college, not law school. I’m not saying that the term should be rejected — just that it needs to be labeled as “nonstandard” --Versageek 21:03, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

So was I; the essays were for my Law A-level. See below for the rest of my reply.
I readily agree that Wiktionary should be more prescriptive (especially in this regard). However, prescription, like descriptive techniques, can also be taken too far. The “all words in all languages” mandate does imply that we should include terms that would normally be prohibited by prescriptive linguistics. But that has to be counter-balanced, not usurped, by descriptive linguistics.
Back to the matter at hand though, I guess I don’t understand why you agree that there is a primary plural form, but disagree that the secondary forms should be accurately labelled. Is it just the wording of the label that you are balking at? What would be a better way to say it, then? --Connel MacKenzie 21:04, 7 January 2007 (UTC)
I wholeheartedly agree with your first paragraph — a compromise betwixt prescriptivism and descriptivism is the only sane option. I don’t think that scenarii, or for that case any plural formed through the “‘-o’ → ‘-i’” pattern (as long as it is etymologically consistent), should be labelled as “nonstandard”, because I believe the “‘-o’ → ‘-i’” pattern to be part of standard English (albeït on the exotic fringe thereöf). As I’ve said, I disagree with tagging it as irregular as part of its definition because it would be redundant and doing so would invite misinterpretation (though I enthusiastically support its inclusion in this category). It would be far better, in mine opinion, if it were tagged as (rare), as it is undeniably so, and doing so would not leave it open unto misinterpretation. Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 22:57, 7 January 2007 (UTC)
First, I admit that I hadn’t realised that scenarii was “nonstandard” rather than just “affected”, but it seems it is. The full text of OED2+ contains 27 cites using scenarios but none with scenarii. My favourite item from the search is however one of their rare Usage notes, referring to scenario, and which I feel we should ape for the benefit of those students with more discerning teachers “The over-use of this word in various loose senses has attracted frequent hostile comment. R.W.B.” Amen! Avoid the choice of plural spelling by using a more appropriate word in the first place — or would that require a paradigm shift (another of my pet hates... 610 b.g.c. hits for that and scenari* together) :-(
It is perhaps not surprising that tutors (surely we don’t need sex discrimination in the title — there wasn’t in the 1970s) in a law school, using many Latin phrases, fail to correct the use of a Latin rather than English plural. I feel we should gloss it as (nonstandard). The wiki-link would be useful to make clear what we mean, to those who are unsure, without ramming down the throats of people like Raifʻhār Doremítzwr and me who have sometimes used it, that it is “uneducated” usage. Any argument can then take place in adjusting the definition of nonstandard. --Enginear 22:50, 7 January 2007 (UTC)
Your reference unto the OED2+ is an argumentum ad verecundiam — I’ve already given three citations at scenarii, and many more could be added from the Google Book Search engine. Scenarii is hardly nonstandard in the linguistic sense — it is, in fact, only educated people who would use it. How would you feel about labelling it as (rare) (as suggested above) instead?
By the way, what’s wrong with using the feminine form of tutor (tutrix)? ~They are women after all. It is beyond me how it can be automatically discriminatory to apply the proper inflexion unto a word. If someone interprets my use of a feminine form of a word to imply that the person unto whom I am referring is in some way inferior, then that is due unto his/her prejudices concerning women. Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 23:27, 7 January 2007 (UTC)
Using {{context|rare}} seems like it may work. User:Scs and User:Ncik seemed to have some objections to that particular tag, though. I don’t know if those same objections will be appropriate in this context. --Connel MacKenzie 06:21, 8 January 2007 (UTC)
Scenarii is irregular, nonstandard and rare — that is no surprise and no amount of going to law school will change that; in different fields of work and education we will have idiosyncracies in the language that we use due to past influence upon that dicipline (in this case Latin upon Law). As for tutors/teachers marking papers incorrect due to plurals of the ilk of scenarii then that would probably be because they’ve never heard of it — making it rare and nonstandard. The plural scenarii is irregular because in English we would just add an s to a word to make it plural, after all the langauge is English and not Latin! --Williamsayers79 08:46, 8 January 2007 (UTC)
I do not agree that scenarii is nonstandard, but that should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me here. We should probably have objective criteria for determining such. Regardless, it shouldn’t be labeled both nonstandard and rare. Who had said this, that rare meant it was standard, just not common? Pick one or the other.
A point that I think has brought some confusion in this debate is that the word is irregular both in the sense that it is not formed following the basic rules and in the sense that it is not common. I would support noting that it is irregular in the second sense, but using “irregular” is clearly a misleading way to do so. DAVilla 14:41, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

The fact that Doremítzwr is prepared to write ‘mine arguments’, ‘whereäs’ and ‘albeït’ shows very well that he is more concerned with his own idea of ‘correctness’ than he is with a good English writing style. Scenarii may be defensible on etymological grounds – whatever that’s worth – but the fact is that anyone reading it is likely to find it horribly pretentious. My opinion is that it’s not for Wiktionary to say whether a word is ‘correct’ or not; we’re here to show evidence of a word’s use and explain its meaning, which includes stylistic connotations. It’s an overblown, pretentious word – that’s an opinion amply borne out by the citations on the page, which are all perfect examples of the kind of jargonistic wanky academic-speak which most people are well advised to avoid. Whether we convey that with a (nonstandard) tag I don’t know, but something is needed so that users of this site are aware that using this word is likely to stop a reader or listener dead in their tracks. Widsith 15:19, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

Here, here! Could not have said better my self. --Williamsayers79 15:34, 8 January 2007 (UTC)
Hear, hear, neither could I. On the subject that only “educated” people would use it I am reminded that “A little learning is a dangerous thing” (and before anyone suggests I am being rude, bear in mind that I have used “scenarii” myself, even if only when trying to sound like a wanky academic (wonderful phrase!)). —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Enginear|Enginear]] ([[User talk:Enginear|talk]] • [[Special:Contributions/Enginear|contribs]]) 19:28, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

The standard English plural of scenario is scenarios, and scenarii is a nonstandard plural, just like the standard plural of virus is viruses and virii is a nonstandard plural. Articles for nonstandard words should mention that they are nonstandard. As for the “-o to -i” rule, in some cases the plural in -i is accepted or preferred, such as concerti. Cynewulf 16:51, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

I’ll try to respond unto everyone’s comments here:

In reply unto Connel MacKenzie:
But what exactly is hypercorrection, other than a “misapplication” of a pluralising pattern? If you get rid of the “(almost) anything + ‘-s’ forms standard plurals” prejudice, then why is octopi any less correct than octopuses? From an etymological perspective, both are æqually incorrect, whilst octopodes is the only correct plural form.
Ungainsayably, “+ ‘-s’” is by far the most common pluralising pattern; however, that doesn’t mean that any plural not formed thereby is incorrect. It isn’t only “+ ‘-s’” that is English’s productive pluralising pattern; so is “‘-us’ → ‘-i’”, “‘-a’ → ‘-ae’”, “‘-um’ → ‘-a’”, “‘-is’ → ‘-es’”, “‘-on’ → ‘-a’”, “‘-ma’ → ‘-mata’”, “‘-ah’ → ‘-oth’”, “+ ‘-im’”, “‘-an’ → ‘-en’”, “‘-ouse’ → ‘-ice’”, “+ ‘-en’” as well as the pattern in question, “‘-o’ → ‘-i’” — though they differ in degree of naturalisation. Richardb’s comment above ((words ending in a, taking the plural ending ae, to me are regular. They follow a straightforward rule)) shows the “‘-a’ → ‘-ae’” rule’s high degree of naturalisation (a degree surpassed by the “‘-us’ → ‘-i’” rule).
Patterns aside, why should we give two hoots what the “etymologically consistent” plural form of a word is, you might ask. One reason is that English often borrows plurals (like taliban and mujaheddin), from which (due unto English’s lack of a singular affix) a singular can only be derived either by back-formation or by borrowing the singular too (like talib and mujahed); the more patterns for forming plurals that we have, the more likely it is that we can use one to back-form a singular from a foreign plural.
From a slightly more subjective angle, reasons of euphony count against the “+ ‘-s’” rule’s monopoly on forming plurals; surely ye agree that hypotheses and cacti sound much better than “hypothesises” and “cactuses”. The euphonic consideration does not necessarily, however, serve as a steadfast supporter of using etymologically consistent plural forms; whereäs octopodes does indeed sound better than “octopuses”, octopi will do almost as well, whilst having the added benefit of being formed using a familiar, and mostly naturalised, pluralising pattern.
I reïterate my support for labelling scenarii as (rare) for reasons that I’ve already given.
In reply unto Williamsayers79:
I do not think that it is disputed that scenarii is both irregular and rare — only whether or not it is nonstandard. According unto the linguistic definition given (not conforming to the language used by the educated sections of a society), it most certainly isn’t, as scenarii is no uneducated slip-up, but rather a somewhat overeducated eccentricity. In any case, scenarii could only justifiably be labelled as “nonstandard” if every plural formed according unto the “‘-o’ → ‘-i’” rule were to be similarly labelled.
I attend a sixth-form college, not a Law School. The “‘-o’ → ‘-i’” rule, according unto which pattern scenarii is formed, is a pattern absorbed from Italian, not Latin — thereby making your comments concerning academic idiosyncracies inapplicable. There has not been any mention of a teacher marking scenarii as incorrect; Versageek merely made a prediction that such would happen — in reality, both my tutrices consider scenarii to be correct. Your comment concerning the “+ ‘-s’” rule for forming plurals has been addressed in my reply unto Connel MacKenzie.
In reply unto DAVilla:
One objective criterion is that specific plurals aren’t standard or nonstandard, but rather that pluralising patterns are one or the other; as for plurals formed according unto no obvious pattern, they can be treated as forming plurals according unto a whole new pattern, which early on would almost certainly be considered nonstandard.
As a prescriptive element, I propose that all words ending in a given morpheme be automatically tagged as having a plural formed identically unto the said morpheme thereïn; for the sake of example: whatever-man / -woman / -person / -oma / -pous / pus / -polis would become whatever-men / -women / -people / -omata / -podes / -poleis. What do ye think; is this reasonable?
My view concerning scenarii is that it ought to be tagged as (rare), to be part of this category, and otherwise to take the form of an ordinary plural. Do you agree?
In reply unto Widsith:
I write “mine arguments” for the same reason that I would write “an argument” — I’d use a prevocalic ‘-n’ sound in order to ease pronunciation. The diæreses in “whereäs” and “albeït” indicate that the words are not to be pronounced /ʍɛɹiːs/ and /ælbʌɪt/, respectively. However, I recognise that these are an archaïcism and an eccentricity, respectively, and I do not assert that they are Standard English (although, in the case of using diæreses, I do assert them to be Standard English in borrowed words such as naïve and in constructed words such as coördinate, reëlect, multiïnstrumentalist, and tetraärise). The fact that I use idiosyncratic language forms is irrelevant unto the argument; raising the issue is, I can only assume, an attempt to damn mine arguments by association.
I do not see how scenarii is prætentious, as I do not use it ostentatiously, or in an attempt to impress others — if I was, then I would surely have failed miserably, as the most common reaction seems to be ridicule; as I have explained, I use scenarii (/sɛˈnɑːriː/) because it is far more euphonic than the ugly-sounding scenarios (/sɛˈnɑːɹiəʊz/). I don’t see why scenarii is any more prætentious than virtuosi or concerti. Moreöver, I do not believe that scenarii is any more inextricably linked unto jargonistic wanky academic-speak than scenarios is — the word scenario itself is quite “wanky” — no matter which plural you use.
In reply unto Cynewulf:
You do not give reasons for any of your assertions. Please do. If this were Wikipedia, I’d be adding [citation needed] unto what you wrote every few words!

I hope that’s everything from everyone! Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 22:14, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

I’m sad to hear that Wikipedia has degenerated to the point that no one can talk without citations “every few words” (Raifʻhār Doremítzwr, [1], 2007). You have already mentioned concerti (Raifʻhār Doremítzwr, [2], 2007) and apparently haven’t read the page for virus ([3], n.d.) or the Wikipedia discussion linked from there ([4], n.d.), so I fear it’s a waste of time to direct you to any other dictionary entries such as [5], [6], [7], [8], [9], or [10], but I’ve done it anyway. Cynewulf 03:42, 9 January 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, but the only way your writing could be more “prætentious” would be to construct it in iambic pentameter with numerous French and Latin quotes embedded without context. The word euphonious has never been synonymous with standard, so I’m afraid I don’t buy that argument. Neither is the grammar of a word in one language a control over how it will be adopted into another language. As far as I can tell, you are using diareses becuase you believe other people too uneducated to pronounce them correctly without them. As far as I’m concerned, this whole discussion smacks of trolling, so I’ve said all I think I need to. --EncycloPetey 03:54, 9 January 2007 (UTC)
It’s irregular, you know it is, and no amount of pretentious rhetoric is going to persude me otherwise, as for your changes to the pronunciations of the words in question are you talking about RP or what? Oh and by the way, it is considered bad manners (thats etiquet to you) to revert corrections / edits of admins (without prior discussion) and to edit articles under dicussion --Williamsayers79 10:21, 9 January 2007 (UTC)
My two cents: scenario is first and foremost, a business jargon buzzword. (Yes, I do mean that to sound pejorative!) Academia has little, if anything, to do with the business world. At any rate, I see no reason to expand Ncik’s list of four “regular plural” rules given at the top of this page. --Connel MacKenzie 11:13, 9 January 2007 (UTC)
Sorry Cynewulf, I ought to have been clearer; it’s not that you need to provide citations, I was merely criticising the way in which you made a lot of “is” and “should” assertions, without giving any reasons why — I disagreed with a lot of what you said. The citations you gave were interesting enough (particularly the Wikipedia article in re “Plural of virus”), but none of them said anything new about scenarii.
EncycloPetey, of course you know that I wrote “prætentious” mostly for the sake of irony. It’s surprising that you consider my writing to be that prætentious. I think it’s right to consider euphony (thanks for the adjectival correction, by the way) — some constructions certainly sound uglier or more awkward than others do. As for foreign grammar having no bearing on the form of English, whilst I don’t entirely accept that foreign grammar is alien unto English, the pertinent question to ask you is “how else do we acquire a singular form for a plural borrowing, other than by back-formation or by borrowing the singular too?”. You may be surprised by how common mispronunciation is in certain contexts — all my life, I’d heard vacuum mispronounced /vɑ'kjuːm/ — perhaps it ought to be written as “vacuüm”, to indicate that it should be pronounced as /vɑ'kju.əm/. Other common mispronunciations include museum (/mju'ziːm/ — perhaps “museüm”), facade (/fɑ'keɪd/ — therefore the cedilla in façade), coop (/kuːp/coöp shows that we aren’t discussing chicken dwellings!), and even elite (/iːlʌɪt/ — best to retain the acute accent in élite). There’s also the æsthetic concern — co-operate may look OK, but unco-operative does not — far better to use uncoöperative. Lastly, I’m not a troll; however, I don’t know what I can say to convince you that I’m not.
Yes, Williamsayers79, scenarii is irregular; noöne is asserting that it isn’t. The disagreement is whether to label it as such as part of its definition. Please, go back and read the discussion thus far, and actually address the issues. /sɛ'nɑːɹiː/ isn’t RP (though /sɛ'nɑːɹiəʊz/ might be); are you talking about (→Pronunciation - The stress is fine, but the vowel is /ɛ/) — pronunciation isn’t what’s being discussed — how is what I did wrong?
Connel MacKenzie, I agree with the entirety of your most recent comments. By the way, I never suggested expanding the above definition of a “regular plural” (although I can understand how that false impression could have been given).
This discussion seems to be fizzling out / going around in circles. I therefore suggest the following course of action:
  • We tag scenarii as {{rare}};
  • It remains part of this category, alongside all words not pluralised as per the above definition; and,
  • That the “irregular” qualification be removed both from scenarii’s definition, and from the definition of every other plural noun, to the effect that all plural nouns are defined merely as “plural form of example”.
Is this agreeable unto everyone? Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 01:25, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
Huh? I have never heard museum pronounced as /mju'ziːm/
(file)
; nor have I ever heard elite pronounced /iːlʌɪt/
(file)
. Either you are confused about IPA or you live in a very bizarre place. --EncycloPetey 04:46, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
North Wales (see below) is indeed bizarre (at least in UK terms) in its use of English with the pronunciations being noticeably influenced by Welsh. In North Wales, the majority of young people are now proficient in Welsh (a required subject up to age 16), and in some rural areas more people have Welsh as a first language than English. Some of the English pronunciations heard there are as unusual as those of, say, Newcastle, which are more widely known. --Enginear 22:46, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
The utteress cannot speak Welsh, and her accent is far closer unto that of Cheshire than anywhere else; whereäs the utterer (whose parents are both Scoucers) can, albeït not very well. That’s irrelevant anyhow, as /mju'ziːm/ is an English regional mispronunciation, whilst /iːlʌɪt/ is simply an uneducated mispronunciation. A very common Welsh dialectal pronunciation of museum would be /miu'ziːʌm/; almost all of us pronounce élite as /ɛˈliːt/ (with a slight change of stress (which I am unable to display) for those with very strong rural Welsh accents). Therefore, the quoted mispronunciations cannot be explained away by the “bizzareness” of the north Welsh accent. Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 01:26, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
(Splitting hairs) not one accent but several accents, of which the Cheshire-influenced is one of the less unusual and the Scouse-influenced is one of the more bizarre (see 'pedia article mentioned above). --Enginear 20:00, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
As everyone has his own idiolect, then it depends how you define an accent (as well as a dialect, variant, language, et cetera). Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 20:54, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
My suggestion would be to leave it as it is and add the {{rare}} label to it also. Scenarii is irregular and I think this has been the concensus, it must say this in the definition line in the article scenarii and I would also like to see a Dictionary note explaining that it is rare because most people would use the more common scenarios though in some circles it may be acceptable to use scenarii due to the culture within that circle. I think we should really have a vote about the use of {{irregular plural of}} and another vote on whether we label strange (yes I mean that!) plurals as {{rare}}, {{nonstandard}}, etc. (e.g. virii, scenarii, octopii, etc., etc.) --Williamsayers79 08:47, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
No, I really did mean “myu-zeem” and “ee-light” — the utteress of the latter was, to be fair, not the smartest pupil in my Sociology class; however, the utterer of the former is quite intelligent (even if his pronunciation and grammar leaves much to be desired). This, alas, is what happens when schoolchildren are no longer taught to enunciate properly and the education system regards teaching grammar unto them as “stifling their creativity” (!). Cedillas, diæreses, and particularly acute accents provide vital clues for pronunciation of unfamiliar words. I imagine that the utteress’s mispronunciation of elite stemmed from the growing tendency to drop the hyphen in e-mail and other e-prefixed words — had the word been written élite, I do not believe that she would have made the same mistake (due, most likely, unto her familiarity with words such as café — still usually written with an acute accent around these parts (Cambria Septentrionalis — North Wales) — which would indicate unto her that the ‘é’ should be pronounced as /ɛ/). At this point, I expect to hear the typical descriptivist argument that it is irrelevant how she chooses to pronounce “elite”, as long as she is understood (oh, and that there’s no such thing as “mispronunciation”) — well, I can tell you that neither I nor the rest of my class knew what she meant, and that the utterer’s mispronunciation of museum, though hardly serving as an insurmountable barrier unto understanding, caused the flow of our conversation to pause temporarily.
It is impossible to deny that scenarii is an irregular plural in the context of the above definition of a “regular plural” — there is no need to keep making that point. Mine objection is with labelling it as such as part of its definition, as it is already apparent that scenarii is such from looking it at it and from the fact that it is a part of this category. Tagging a plural as irregular is, as DAVilla said above (A point that I think has brought some confusion in this debate is that the word is irregular both in the sense that it is not formed following the basic rules and in the sense that it is not common. I would support noting that it is irregular in the second sense, but using “irregular” is clearly a misleading way to do so), misleading — it implies that the form is wrong.
Assume that you are new unto Wiktionary, and are therefore unfamiliar with our slightly jargonistic use of the word “irregular”. Look at children. What does the definition “Irregular plural form of child” make you think? I imagine that it would not be uncommon for a new user to misapprehend that we were claiming that there was something wrong with using the word “children” to mean “more than one child”. It is naïve to expect that everyone will understand that we use “irregular” to mean “unusually formed”, and that there is nothing inherently wrong implied in our usage.
The tag (rare) should obviously be limited to words that are actually rare, and used especially in cases when there is an overwhelmingly more common alternative form or synonym thereöf (as in the case of scenarii / scenarios). As for (nonstandard), plural forms ought to be labelled as nonstandard or not according unto how they are formed (hence my position that if scenarii is to be labelled as nonstandard, then so should concerti, virtuosi, and any and every other plural formed according unto the “‘-o’ → ‘-i’” rule). My view is that virii is nonstandard, that scenarii is not, and that octopi (not “octopii”) probably isn’t (it isn’t in Australian English). irregular plural of|example, in my view, should not be used, for the three reasons given above. Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 17:47, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

I’m sorry, when you wrote “I invite all and sundry to contribute their perspectives” I thought you meant you wanted all and sundry to contribute their perspectives as some sort of consensus-building exercise.

As for your proposed redefinition of “nonstandard”, I assume this means you support the use of the alleged word “irregardless”, since blending constructions are very common in English. I also see you used the phrase “reasons why” — I wonder, how was this formed? Is it nonstandard? How was “thereöf” formed — “there + of with addition of diaeresis”, or “From thereof, by addition of diaeresis”? Is the addition of diaereses a standard rule in English? It seems to me that a more likely rule is the removal of all diacritics. Cynewulf 18:30, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

Read what I wrote carefully: plural forms ought to be labelled as nonstandard or not according unto how they are formed (hence my position that if scenarii is to be labelled as nonstandard, then so should concerti, virtuosi, and any and every other plural formed according unto the “‘-o’ → ‘-i’” rule) — this only concerns plurals; though this proposed principle of mine probably breaks down in a few scenarii, it is at least an attempt at consistency.
Our present (applicable) definition of nonstandard is “Not conforming to the language used by the educated sections of a society” — it seems unto me that, for the purposes of this word for Wiktionary, it does indeed need to be redefined. Of course “irregardless” is wrong — it’s logically absurd.
It is no surprise that I made a mistake (I can’t remember the context, but I probably should have written “reasons for which”); everybody does, for the simple fact that noöne’s perfect. Thanks for the correction, but as a counterargument, it is utterly irrelevant. As for “thereöf”, I agree, thereïn, the diæresis is unnecessary as ‘eo’ is not used as a diphthong anywhere (unto the best of my knowledge), although ‘ei’ is, hence the diæretic ‘eï’ — however, surely you would allow me this idiosyncracy?
What is this strange vendetta so many people seem to have against diacritics used in English? Such a position seems very strange unto me. English spelling is in such a state — it could very much use a few dots, lines, and squiggles to make it a little more logical and a little less arcane — wouldn’t you say? Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 19:09, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
What English could use is outside the scope of Wiktionary. Our goal is to describe what English does. --EncycloPetey 04:46, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
As I am repeatedly told. Though I do wish it was, I was not suggesting above that Wiktionary ought to be prescriptive. I was just decrying the weird dislike for diacritics that so many people seem to have. Raifʻhār Doremítzwr 14:49, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

Potential for automatic categorization[edit]

The following conversation (everything prior to 18:28, 30 August 2007 (UTC)), has been moved here from User talk:Connel MacKenzie#Irregular plurals. Rod (A. Smith) 18:28, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

Hi, Connel. According to Category:English nouns with irregular plurals, we call an English plural “regular” if it is formed from the singular by any of the following contructions:

  • for symbols or letters, by adding -s or -’s
  • for nouns ending in a consonant + y, by replacing the -y with -ies
  • for nouns ending in a sibilant, by adding -es
  • for others, by adding -s

If editors using {{en-noun}} with -y->-ies nouns would invoke it as {{en-noun|categor|ies}}, the template could automatically categorize the vast majority of irregular plurals (including ones like “mouse”->“mice”, “datum”->“data”, and “metamorphosis”->“metamorphoses”). We would only need to add the category manually for the very short list of irregular nouns that add “-s”, “-es”, or “’s” to the singular form.

You have explained that your preference for the syntax {{en-noun|categories}} over the syntax {{en-noun|categor|ies}}. If you are firm on that preference, I will give up my hope to have {{en-noun}} automatically place nouns into Category:English nouns with irregular plurals. Just let me know whether it should be discussed further, dropped altogether, or tabled for now to discuss with you at a later date. Rod (A. Smith) 19:03, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

It is worth discussing further.
I don't see how you could hope to automate it. I can see generating lists for potential category additions, but I don't see how automatically dropping that category in, template-conditionally, could be a good thing.
I'd like to point out how monstrously overloaded {{en-noun}} is supposed to be, already. For possessives and plural possessives, none of the advocates have even tried to create a usable demonstration template. Further overloading of en-noun is just begging for trouble. IMHO.
But please, do explain what you mean a little more. You are saying that if an {{en-noun}} call has a second parameter that isn't one of the above, it should always unconditionally be included in "irregulars?" --Connel MacKenzie 19:57, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
Yes, pretty close to what you suggest. If the plural it spits out is {PAGENAME} + "s", {PAGENAME} + "es", or {PAGENAME} + "'s", nothing would happen. Similarly, if {1}+y={PAGENAME} and {2}="ies", nothing would happen. Otherwise, it would add Category:English nouns with irregular plurals. That would cover 99% of the "irregular" plurals, as we have them defined. The only imposition on editors is to use the syntax {{en-noun|categor|ies}} for nouns that drop -y to add -ies. Rod (A. Smith) 20:46, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
Just a quick check: harvestman/harvestmen is irregular? --Connel MacKenzie 06:22, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
As harvestman is a compound noun, the key question is whether man/men is regular or irregular. Given that the plural of "man" is "men", regardless of regularity, I think that harvestman/harvestmen is the expected plural, *harvestmans would be unexpected although it would appear regularly formed if you don't know the plural of "man" is not "mans". Which is regular and which is irregular I am not certain. Thryduulf 10:05, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
It's definitely irregular — ending in -man is no guarantee of a plural ending in -men (compare Walkman, human, talisman) — but whether to include it Category:English nouns with irregular plurals depends, I think, on what the purpose of that category is. —RuakhTALK 14:55, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
Very good Ruakh, Thryduulf. Yes, it is a trick question...hopefully thought provoking. --Connel MacKenzie 15:05, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
Yes, that is a good class of words to note, Connel. According to what's currenty at Category:English nouns with irregular plurals, “harvestman” would be an English noun with an irregular plural, but perhaps those criteria should be reviewed. In any event, since it's not clear whether we should so classify such words, it would be premature to have {{en-noun}} perform that categorization automatically. Should we copy this conversation to Category talk:English nouns with irregular plurals so it can be easily referenced when somebody eventually gets around to revisiting this topic? Rod (A. Smith) 18:04, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
Excellent idea. Yes, please move this there, leaving a soft-link (only) here on my talk page. I agree the choice to call -man/-men irregular should be reviewed. --Connel MacKenzie 18:11, 30 August 2007 (UTC)