Date: Wed, 20 Sep 1995 09:26:57 -0500

From: "Dennis R. Preston" preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PILOT.MSU.EDU

Subject: Re: Mouse/Mice=House/Hice

What can we learn from all these mouses?

I regard 'mice' in the computer world as an exception to the following

general rule:

GENERAL RULE: When an irregular form takes on extended, especially

metaphoric, meaning, regularize it.

Consider the following.

The bird flew out - The batter flied out. *flew out

The oxen pulled the wagon - They're a bunch of dumb oxes *dumb oxen

And on and on (including the relatively bizarre fact that if someone went

around sticking their thumb between a lot of people's legs up by their

butts, they would be said to have given a lot of 'gooses,' certainly not


Note that 'mice' was already waffling in an earlier metaphoric sense ('Be

men, not mice' ['mouses'?]), although, as with all good general rules there

are numerous exceptions (e.g., 'drove' in golf, 'froze' in sports).

Would a feature-based semantic analysis show which of these are most likely

to preserve irregularity or would such preservation more likely be based on

the phonological and/or morphological status of the item in question? Nice

project, huh?

Dennis Preston