Well, well, well if it isn’t the old octopi or octopuses argument. I come with an answer!
Read on and uncover the truth as to which you should use.
There are plenty of people out there that say things differently. The word ‘corset’ for example, I’ve heard pronounced ‘core-sit’ and ‘core-set’. Then once you ask the surrounding populace it seems split towards one side and that side is ‘core-set’.
Linguistics is actually a pretty interesting topic. Studying how languages are structured and the deeply rooted fundamental parts of how humans communicate all over the globe. One of the greatest fantasy writers in my opinion, J.R.R. Tolkien was an incredible man with such an elaborate imagination he created quite a few languages for his books.
Non native speakers find it extremely difficult to learn English to a proficient level. I theorize that might have to do with the ridiculous rules and ways words are pronounced. All of those silent letters like in the word ‘knife’ or ‘knee’ not to mention the ‘p’ in ‘psychology’. Native speakers sometimes bash heads when it comes to how something is said or pronounced.
Our main focus for today is the word ‘octopus’. You know that alien looking sea creature with too many arms and they can change color and shape? Yeah those ones. Well here is the thing with the word ‘octopus’.
Let us look up the word octopus shall we?
Time: 1750 – 1760
With this extremely basic information we can find out exactly how we can pronounce the plural form. You see the origin of the word is from Greece in the late 18th century. That would mean that the plural pronunciation would be octopodes. However this form is now seldom used.
Since its adoption into the English language the standard plural form of octopuses is also acceptable. However interestingly enough the oxforddictionaries.com says that the plural form octopi which was used according to the rules of Latin is incorrect.
Why is that? Well it is actually fairly reasonable and simple. You see when people say octopi it is formed using the Latin rules for plurals. I have been studying Latin for over a year now. Furthermore the word for octopus in Latin is actually ‘polypus’. Being a masculine word the appropriate ending would be ‘i’ as we are speaking only in the nominative sense. So if we are talking about more than one, then ‘polypi’ would be the word we use.
It’s actually quite surprising to see that the word ‘octopi’ was actually completely wrong the entire time. Unbelievable. Most of us are probably guilty of saying “Octopi” in order to correct someone when we were the ones wrong the entire time.