Monday, April 27, 2009

I'm not sure 'serendipity' has quite the connotations we want

A friend and regular reader of this blog emailed me a couple of hours ago about that last post to say that he'd looked up singulars and plurals for 'remains' in Fowler's Modern English Usage, and reports that:
Fowler wonderfully says ‘plural names of diseases as mumps measles, glanders [pardon? Glanders??] can be treated as singular or plural’. But then remains are not a disease but the aftermath so not a lot of help.

I had a vague memory from a Robertson Davies novel that glanders was a disease horses get, and a vague notion that people could catch it, so, pausing only to read more news about a possible swine flu epidemic and start a mental shopping list of long-life groceries in case I have to stay inside for a month, I googled glanders (thereby acquiring my first-ever exposure to the verb 'to weaponize') to discover that both of these things are true, and furthermore that it is fatal, and that the word for a disease transmissible from animals to humans is zoonotic.

Eewww.

8 comments:

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Oh, this is very cool, Pavlova. Two of my favourite things, transspecies disease and grammar, brought together in one excellent post. My feeling is that 'remains', though seldom seen in the singular, is still a plural noun, and like other plural nouns seldom seen in the singular (scissors, underpants) agrees with a plural verb.

ThirdCat said...

Surely anything than can be scattered are a plural.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Anyones who saw the exploding skull in last night's episode of Bones would agree with 3C there, I thinks.

Ann oDyne said...

... singular of mice + mouse,
singular of rice = rouse ?

Dear Baron Alexis, years ago my neighbour's son, Dr.GP, was obsessed by animal to human infection and tried in vain to get any Vet to work with him on it, so he studied Vet Sci himself.
I suppose you could take him your pet and have a joint consult.

R.H. said...

That's right: remains, debris.

I cuddle dogs, kiss them, hug them, I've never caught a thing, bar affection.

Pavlov's Cat said...

What's the singular of twice then, hmm?

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Forgot to mention my other favourite thing: words that form the plural by internal vowel mutation. Like goose/geese, tooth/teeth, mouse/mice. Should be more of it. (Internal vowel mutation: a little known symptom of glanders.)

Ann oDyne, your neighbour's son sounds like a veritable dude.

Bernice said...

Some some years ago, well known Aust novelist published novel with Hale & Iremonger called Anthrax. Publisher most surprised when novel began to sell like CWA scones in western Queensland....