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 "Inspiration and genius
  Are not everything.
  While Shakespeare wrote
  The telephone didn't ring."

                            PART III
                      by Richard Karsmakers

 By  now you should know that I started studying English back  in
September 1991.  During the first months of this academic  career
already  I  found out I was making lots of mistakes where  I  had
naively thought none existed.  I had been mixing up words,  words
with the wrong meanings and wrong plural forms.  I'd been  making
lots  of  other mistakes,  too,  so it's safe to say that  I  had
committed  blasphemy  against what I consider to be  the  richest
language mankind possesses.  I decided the time was ripe to bring
all that to a halt.

 My purpose writing this series is twofold.  Basically I hope  to
make you all aware of English,  and most particularly the  proper
way in which it is written.  Also,  I hope I'll get better at  it
myself if I try to tell you how it's done.

 Rather  important  note:  To  many of you this  column  will  be
boring. If you are one of these many, then quit now. Pressing F10
will do the job. In an attempt to make this column not *entirely*
boring, however, I usually add some fun bits too.

 The perhaps somewhat serious bit in this time's column will  be
dealing with odd plurals.  I'd like to deal with them now so that
the whole plural thing, started in an earlier part of this Quest,
can be wrapped up.

Odd plurals

 I recently purchased a book called "The Joy of Lex",  written by
a chap called Gyles Brandreth.  When reading it I stumbled across
a  chapter that was dedicated solely to odd  plurals,  hence  the
paragraph name concocted above.
 The  meant  chapter  simply  lists two  series  of  plurals  and
singulars,  the  first each beginning with a different letter  of
the alphabet, the second each ending with one.
 He  claims  all of these entries can be found in  the  Webster's
Third International Dictionary.

               SINGULAR                 PLURAL

               Adai                     Adaize
               brother                  brethren
               Chetty                   Chettyars
               Dukhobor                 Dukhobortsky
               englyn                   englynion
               Feis                     Feiseanna
               goosefoot                goosefoots
               holluschick              holluschickie
               iter                     itenera
               juger                    jugera
               Kuvasz                   Kuvaszok
               landsman                 landsleit
               mongoose                 mongooses
               never-was                never-weres
               ornis                    ornithes
               paries                   parietes
               quadrans                 quadrantes
               rubai                    rubaiyat
               shtetl                   shtetlach
               tenderfoot               tederfoots
               ulcus                    ulcera
               vila                     vily
               wunderkind               wunderkinder
               Xhosa                    Amaxhosa
               yad                      yadayim
               zecchino                 zecchini

               SINGULAR                 PLURAL

               vas                      vasa
               chub                     chub
               calpul                   calpullec
               squid                    squid
               bildungsroman            bildungsromane
               riff                     riff
               hog                      hog
               matzo                    matzoth
               jajman                   jajmani
               Bhumij                   Bhumij
               puli                     pulik
               court-martial            courts-martial
               seraph                   seraphim
               torte                    torten
               buffalo                  buffalo
               sheep                    sheep
               Qaraqalpaq               Qaraqalpaq
               krone                    kroner
               plural                   plurals
               matzo                    matzot
               ushabti                  ushabtiu
               Pshav                    Pshav
               mother-in-law            mothers-in-law
               plateau                  plateaux
               pince-nez                pince-nez

 After this,  Gyles closed off the chapter with a small quiz. See
if  you can see what the plurals to the following words are  (the
answers will be given in the next issue of the Quest Articles.

               1)   axe
               2)   ox
               3)   son-in-law
               4)   potato
               5)   piccolo
               6)   attorney general
               7)   lieutenant colonel
               8)   opus
               9)   index
               10)  teaspoonful
               11)  mister
               12)  man-of-war
               13)  manservant
               14)  oboe
               15)  cherub
               16)  crisis
               17)  datum
               18)  cannon
               19)  addendum
               20)  agenda
               21)  phenomenon
               22)  madam
               23)  pelvis
               24)  paymaster general
               25)  brigadier general

 And I'd like to leave it at that with regard to plurals.  On  to
the next bit.

Now for some interesting bits in "did you know that..." form

...there are about 5,000 languages in the world?
...almost 850 of these are spoken in India alone?
...there  are some languages that are far more complex  than  the
   ones we know?
...Tabarassan,   a  language  spoken  in  the  USSR  republic  of
   Daghestan, has 35 cases (German has 4, English I guess has 2)?
...Rotokas,  a  language spoken on Bougainville  Island,  has  an
   alphabet of only 11 signs (a,  b,  e,  g, i, k, o, p, r, t and
...almost  330  million  people speak  English  as  their  native
...the longest word ever used in literature is 170 characters  in
   length (in Greek), from Aristophanes' "The Ecclesiazusae"?
...the  Englishman  Edward  Benbow once wrote  the  longest  ever
   palindromic essay, containing 80,000 words?
...the longest palindromic novel, "Dr. Awkward and Olson in Oslo"
   by Lawrence Levine (written in 1986) counts 31,594 words?
...the  sequence of characters in English,  sorted from  the  one
   that occurs most to the one that occurs least, is "e t a i s o
   n h r d l u c m f w y p g b v k j q x z"? Dutch this is "e n a t r d o i s l g h v m k u w p c b z  ΓΏ
   f j y x q"?
...these are all items of mild interest this time?

And to round things off with...

 If you have some money left,  there is a book that may be fun to
read - "The Joy of Lex" by Gyles Brandreth mentioned above.  It's
publishing by Guild Publishing,  1987,  no ISBN code that I could

 See you next time. 

The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.