Date: Wed, 20 Sep 1995 10:57:36 -0400
From: "M. Lynne Murphy" 104LYN[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]MUSE.ARTS.WITS.AC.ZA
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?