Slice of Life Story Challenge March 20 -That Doesn't Look Right

That Doesn’t Look Right


I noticed on Twitter today someone used the word rooves and at first glance it looked wrong. Something akin to a skunk at a garden party. It sounded correct but to the eye it looked wrong. 

Rooves is the original plural form of the word roof, but has fallen from use. For reasons I cannot explain, it has slipped from common use. Who decided that? It’s all a bit random when you consider the following

Hoof –hooves

Wife –wives

Leaf –leaves

Loaf –loaves

Elf -elves

Notice the pattern here?

It seems quite strange that people write roofs but say roovesThe Oxford (British), Merriam Webster (American) and Macquarie (Australian) dictionaries all list roofs, quite definitively, as the plural.The Oxford however concedes ‘The most usual plural of roof is roofs, although rooves is sometimes used.’

So, what happened to create such an anomaly?Is it conceivable that at some time in the future leafs, elfs and loafs will become acceptable?It is amazing how something like this small sighting can vex one quite so much. I don’t have an answer to this conundrum. Just found it piqued my interest as a word wonderer. I am sharing it with you, my readers on the slight chance that you too have pondered this oddity.



 

Comments

  1. As a major word-nerd, I love this word-pondering slice. "Something akin to a skunk at a garden party." Now that's a winning phrase!

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    1. Word nerds are my kind of people. It is fascinating to ponder words. I am constantly imploring teachers and students to celebrate words.

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  2. Our language really is crazy and difficult. Considering how words have changed over the course of time, and how my students struggle to remember the crazy rules, I would think that elfs, leafs, etc would end up becoming acceptable. We shall see over time I guess.

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    1. I tend to use the term generalization rather than rule because each time one invokes a rule some bright, and curious student finds an exception. I readily acknowledge I was taught to look at spelling in this way by the renowned spelling guru, Diane Snowball. Language use is an ever changing phenomenon, so usage will change as you suggest. The question is- how will it look and sound?

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  3. I hear the word "leafs" all the time and it drives me crazy! How is anyone supposed to learn English when we are always changing the rules? Don't even get me started with slang....

    Jen

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    1. It jars the ears and trouble we pedants severely. Slang is mentioned and I immediately think of that horrid invention -brang! It makes my ears ache!

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  4. It is heartening to know there are others who care as much as I do about language. Thank you for highlighting this word changing phenomenon. I fear we will lose more language as texting comes to take over our world. I wonder if that is one of our jobs as writers. Not to shame others, but educate. We teachers tend to have a knack for doing this well. I liked the way you posted about this.

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    1. We can model, paraphrase but as you mention, shaming is definitely not to be entered into. I'm glad you found a fellow word warrior.

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  5. Moments like these make me SO GLAD I am a native English speaker!

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    1. I work in so many school with high intakes of English language learners. Idiomatic language and colloquial terms must be so confusing for these curious young learners at times. Language is something we must remain mindful of unpacking, explaining, and sharing.

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  6. You've inspired my slice for tomorrow. Thank you!

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    1. Go for it Alice. Go for it! Slice away...

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  7. Amazing slice centered around a word. This is giving me ideas for future slices, too!

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    1. Great to hear you are considering your future slices Morgan. A writer rehearses. We are often prompted by a single word.

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  8. Love it! My daughter and I were discussing today how it doesn't sit right to have an author use the word "cacophonous" more than once in a book, or the word "subsume." It seems, to us, that those kinds of words only get one punch. What do you think?

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    1. I find myself in total agreement with you Marilyn. The impact of a particular word lies in its strategic and judicious use. I often discover upon rereading the raw words in my notebook that I have fixated on a word and I must either jettison it or find a more suitable synonym. It jars the sensibilities. It results in writing that is flowery and somewhat pretentious.

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  9. Yes! Those questions pique my curiosity, too. Can one be gruntled if they are not disgruntled?

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    1. Curiosity is a wonderful thing because once you have it there is no cure. It allows you to ponder matters and chip away at your own ignorance. I like the question you ask Lori. There are numerous examples of this type of inconsistency in the English language. A person can be disingenuous, but not 'genuous' it seems...

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