Date: Wed, 20 Sep 1995 10:57:36 -0400


Subject: Re: Mouse/Mice=House/Hice

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

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

it's not just that they're extended meanings, but that they have

been conventionalized to the extent that they have separate lexical

entries. let me cheat and point out what stephen pinker points out

in _the language instinct_: for "fly" in the baseball sense, it's

not an extension of the verb "fly", but a zero-derivation of the noun

"fly" (in baseball terminology), so since it is a new verb, it gets

regular morphology. the same applies to "goose". "dumb ox" is an

idiom which doesn't seem to get analysed at the morphological level

as being an irregular.

other metaphorical uses that are not lexicalized don't get

regularized. "we're an effective team of hard-working oxen (*oxes)."

the computer ate (*eated) my disk.

there are 3 men (*mans) left on the chessboard.

my table has four feet (*foots).

(but: *?at the feet of mountains, flowers often grow.)

it seems for "mouse" that the computer meaning has for some reason

or other been associated with a different lexical entry than the

rodent meaning. my assumption is that the ones that get put into

separate lexical entries are just too different from the source

meaning to share mapping to the conceptual domain(s). computer mice

don't do any mousy things. mountains don't stand on their feet.

and as long as we're on the subject. i was reading _longman language

review_ no. 1 today, which is a pseudo-journal dedicated to promoting

longman reference materials. in an article about the british

national corpus it said that the corpus (which is the basis of the

_longman dictionary of contemporary english_) can answer questions

like, "which plural of mouse is more frequently used for the computer

sense?" (better phrased than that, though). so, presumably, the

answer to the original question can be found in the latest edition of

LDOCE, which includes frequency information. does anyone have this

who could check it out for us?

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


incidentally, this is not what i use 'goose' to mean. to me, a goose

is a many-fingered pinch at the bottom of the buttocks (i.e., at the

fold above the thigh). have i been improperly goosed in both senses

of the phrase?