Every morning that I
get stuck with the duty have the privilege of taking Maddie out to make morning rounds, when we return to the porch I will tell her: “we have to wipe those feets.” Yes, Microsoft, I understand that “feet” is the plural of foot, but Maddie has four feet so I don’t think “feet” goes far enough. Feets is plural for feet in my book, which, by the way, is not the book you want to read if you’re trying to learn proper English. Also in the “by the way” category, I didn’t misuse “make morning rounds” nor was I searching for a comical metaphor. Maddie makes morning rounds.
Specifically, she walks the perimeter of the yard.
I was told by a friend who had both a male and a female Doberman that females check the perimeter of their property, whereas a male wanders about randomly. I’m sure that my editor is shaking her head at the male part and thinking “what, we needed to study animal behavior to figure that out?” He said that in the military, guards walking the fence will have female dogs while males are used to intercept.
Maddie – walks – the – fence.
Maddie walks the fence before she pees! Seriously, we take her out for the last time at night around 7:30 – 8:00 and we take her out in the morning around 6:00, and she spends 1-2 minutes walking the fence before peeing. I would be…sorry, I digress. I wanted to talk about plurals. I guess I went off-track. Wandering randomly if you will.
In addition to feet, I don’t like the so-called-correct plural forms of other words and I tend to not use them. I’ve mentioned before that I prefer ‘jacki’ to jackasses and croci to crocuses. What I didn’t mention is that some dictionaries list ‘croci’ as an acceptable plural form of crocus. None seem to list jacki as being acceptable. Still, I’m sure the people around me understand me, especially in the context in which I use that word, i.e. when referring to a large group of jacki as opposed to a herd or a pace of jackasses. Yep, a pace of jackasses is a thing.
Another word whose plural I don’t like is data, because it doesn’t have one. Data is plural. That is, if you’re old enough to remember the word datum, or if you took Latin in school or if you’re anal about such things. Because data is technically plural, the way feet technically can mean two, three or four feet, we’re supposed to say things like “the data used for this chart were out of date.” I would tend to say “was out of date” but
some jackass someone in the room would interrupt to point out that “data is plural so you should say were out of date.” Who cares? “were out of date” sounds dumb. I’m going to go with the walks-like-a-duck theory here and say if it sounds dumb, it is dumb.
Actually, my way is gaining favor, if you give any credence to the folks at onlinegrammar.com – I just heard my editor scream – “are those the same people who said you can begin a sentence with ‘but’?” They might be. In any case, they say that ‘data was’ is acceptable when the data is non-countable, i.e. where it might be referring to information rather than a series of numbers. I know, “if you mean information, say information and then you can feel free to use ‘was’”
I would rather go for being understood than being grammatically correct. Whenever I say “the data was something” everybody understands me. It’s only the
jacki word-nerds in the room who immediately think “ooh, I should correct him ‘cuz data is plural…” Yes, I know those people wouldn’t say ‘cuz and I know that I am walking a fine line between having this post edited and having it wadded up and thrown at my head because I am insinuating that my editor belongs in a group of…I’m not going to say it…not even going to say it and strike it out. Nope, smarter than that.
But, (sorry) I would argue that, even if I wrote it, the reference shouldn’t be implied. Jackass, and its non-acceptable-plural ‘jacki’ is a gender-specific term. Jack is a male donkey, a female is a Jenny. So there.
The plurals that I try to get right are Pirates, Steelers and Penguins. The Pirates are a great baseball team and I am a Pirates fan. While I do also like individual Pirates like A.J. Burnett and Andrew McCutchen, I am a fan of the team, the organization and I appreciate the regional significance of the Pirates. And, (sorry) since I’m thinking in Pittsburgh terms now, yinz have a nice day.