One of the reasons I started doing this blog was to learn to tune my approach. I’m starting to wonder if I’ve need to do some dial-twisting*. As a general rule, I don’t normally expect to get a lot of feedback on how I write–certainly less than on what I write–but I’d appreciate it if you could take a minute to think about the question I’m going to ask at the end of this post and then give me your answer.
* Showing my age here. Some of you younger readers may not be aware that in the pre-digital age, you couldn’t just push a button to have your radio or TV go to the station you wanted. You had to physically rotate a knob. Even with TVs that had channel numbers marked on a dial, you frequently had to manually fine-tune the station!
In Monday’s post, I wrote
One bust, two busts
One moose, two mooses
One mouth, two mouths
Watch out for irregular words, though. Some words use non-standard plural forms (one mouse, two mice) or the same word for both singular and plural (one deer, two deer). It’s amazing how few people will notice if you slip up, as long as you use the correct standard form, so be careful.
My intent was to make a joke. “Moose” is almost one of those irregular words where singular and plural are the same. The general consensus is that “mooses” is obsolete and rarely used. (“Meese”, formed by analogy with “geese” as the plural of “goose” is inappropriate because goose/geese comes from German roots, but “moose” comes from the Algonquian indian language. Strictly speaking, the plural really should be “mosinee” (thank you Wiktionary) but I think we can all agree that that’s not going to fly with English speakers. Of course, moose don’t fly either, unless they get into a marijuana patch, but that’s beside the point. End of digression.)
I expected that many people would skim right past the joke, but I also expected to get at least a couple of “Hey, wait, you made a mistake,” responses, and maybe one or two “Heh. Cute,” reactions. Instead, I’ve gotten exactly one response, from someone who suggested that “mooses” was obsolete and I should use a different example.
So here’s the question I warned you about in the first paragraph:
Where did I go wrong?
I’ve come up with a few possible answers:
- “Mooses” was too subtle. I should have used something like “wife->wifes” or “man->mans”
- It wasn’t amusing enough for anyone to feel the need to comment on
- Nobody is reading the blog on Mondays (actually, the evidence doesn’t support that hypothesis: Mondays typically have the highest or second-highest view counts of the week)
- Too much “bystander effect”–everyone figured someone else would point out the error (if that’s the case, I may have to rename this blog Kitty Genovese…)
Please think about it and let me know your answer, especially if it’s not one of the possibilities I’ve listed. You can send me an email if you feel self-conscious about posting a public comment. I’m especially interested in hearing from those of you who speak English as a second language.