Thursday, June 01, 2006

In An Octopus's Garden... with a Dictionary


I was in the library in the children's section, and noticed a book containing the non-word "octopuses" in the title. I brought it to the attention of the librarian. She looked up the plural of the word octopus in the Webster's dictionary. It listed octopuses along with the correct form of the word, which is octopi. Are we getting so lax with the teaching of proper grammer that we are including the improper forms in the dictionary because they are used commonly?
Dear Momx4,

In a word, yes. We were driving home recently when we read a sign advertising a university that said, "Education doesn't happen in stadiums."

We nearly crashed our chariot. Technically, the correct plural is "stadia." But it's so commonly misused that even institutes of allegedly higher learning now get it wrong on their billboards.

Dictionaries do evolve to reflect how people actually use language. This is tough on well-starched types who know their grammar, but SPOGG understands the merits of this. Consider certain battles to be lost. Meanwhile, the war for correctness must rage on, or before we know it, "irregardless" will be considered acceptable English.

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