The plural of "moose" is ...

Chris Waigl chris at LASCRIBE.NET
Tue Aug 31 01:05:09 UTC 2010

On 31 Aug 2010, at 01:48, Victor Steinbok wrote:

> Well, there is one other context where not much distinction between
> singular and plural--meat. Aside from the Big Three that have special
> words--beef, pork, venison (also veal and, perhaps, mutton)--other meats
> (and sea creatures) do not take a plural marker: chicken, duck, goose,
> pheasant, guinea fowl, quail, lamb, goat, fish, lobster, crab, squid,
> cuttlefish, shrimp, kangaroo, squirrel, possum, raccoon, ostrich, emu,
> moose are what's for dinner, even if multiple dishes, species and
> carcasses are being prepared.

Well, I'd think this is simply the difference of apprehending the food in question as something that contains a certain amount of a substance -- which might come from a part of a single animal or parts of several interchangeable animals -- versus multiple complete units. You get the same with fruit and vegetables: melon versus cherries; lettuce and pumpkin versus peas and carrots. Some function both ways ("apple", for example).

During my recent trips to the US, I was sometimes surprised when ordering breakfast, such as when "sausage" didn't refer to finger-shaped items held together by a sausage casing but patty-shaped slabs of a ground meat based substance.

The maggot example could well have been a simple error, even a cut-and-paste error (maggot-infested -> *infested by maggot).


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