Date: Wed, 20 Sep 1995 11:41:33 EDT From: Larry Horn Subject: Re: Mouse/Mice=House/Hice Oops. My thunder was just stolen (*stealed), as it often is, by Lynne. I was about to cite Pinker's discussion in Chapter 4 of _The Language Instinct_ too, with his distinction between the "headless" cases (fly out, Maple Leafs, Walk- mans, low-lifes, sabertooths, Mickey Mouses [= people promoting Mickey Mouse regulations],...) and the metaphorical extensions. I can but second Lynne's reflections on why _mouse_, whose technological use is a fairly dead metaphor, allows the two plural versions we have attested. Other metaphorical extensions seem (to me) to vary depending on how distant the metaphor is: Webster's 2b 'a timid person' for me can only pluralize as _mice_, and I assume the same would be the case for anyone who, unlike me, is familiar with 2a '[slang] woman'. But 3, 'a dark-colored swelling caused by a blow, spec. a black eye', is different: The boxer had {?mouses/#mice} under both his eyes. (Of course the latter is OK, if a bit unlikely, on the rodentary reading.) Pinker has a nice discussion of why both 'Walkmans' and 'Walkmen' are so weird; he notes that the officially sanctioned plural is 'Walkman Personal Stereos', given Sony's fear of copyright dilution. For what it's worth, I've heard 'The batter flew out to right'; I don't know if this represents a change in progress (perhaps speakers no longer treat 'to fly out' as derived from the noun and thus as being headless). On the other hand, the only comparative and superlative I can imagine for the positive 'bad' --that is, BAAAAAD--are the regular ones: Michael Jackson may be baaad, but I'm even {baaaader/#worse}. As for gooses, I think both glosses--'[instances of] sticking [one's] thumb between a lot of people's legs up by their butts' and 'many-fingered pinch(es) at the bottom of the buttocks (i.e., at the fold above the thigh) [Lynne Murphy]'--fall within the extension. I'm not sure whether this is a difference in the lexical entry or, as I suspect, a difference in method. Larry