Word Ways


T. A. Hall


Imagine a pair of singular nouns A and B in which B but not A contains a letter at its right edge correspondign to the letter used to express plurality. If A and B are otherwise orthographically identical, I refer to the latter as the pseudo-plural of the former. Pseudo-plurals are very different from pseudo-comparatives. The reason is that triplets like these do not consistently belong to the same word class. By contrast, the words A and B described above most both be (singular) nouns. For reasons that will be clear below, I consider first the nature of pseudo-plurals in German and then I discuss their status in English.