Maybe 2024 will be better

What is not unique exactly? That the s sound is loud? (I guess the s is less frequent in Germanic languages since plurals are generally formed differently ?)


Maybe someone had an apostrophe for apostrophes :stuck_out_tongue:


I meant a word ending of “-s” (never silent) is also used for possesive and plural in Dutch, although most plural forms in Dutch have a word ending of “-en”, which is rare in English (maybe only “oxen”?).

Contracted “is” also occurs in spoken Dutch, like “Da’s waar” (That’s true), although it would usually still be written as “Dat is waar”.

In German, word ending “-s” (never silent) occurs in the possessive form of words of masculine or neuter gender. Plural “-s” also occurs in German, but I think it’s more rare than in Dutch.


Child, children.
Brother, brethren.
But yes, contrary to German plurals almost always finish with an “s” in English, so this causes confusions with the possessive like “my friend’s house” vs. “my friends’ house”.


I just read an interesting thing about that.
In German, the plural of child has “-er” ending: “Kind” => “Kinder”.
In Dutch the plural ending “-er” seems to have fallen in disuse long ago, but in the case of “kind” (child) we kept the “-er” plural ending and added another “-en” ending to make it a “proper sounding plural”, so in Dutch we now have the plural form “kinderen”, which is actually a double plural.
It seems that the same thing happened in English, and “children” is also actually a double plural.

Another double plural we have in Dutch is “schoenen” (shoes).
Initially we had “schoe” (cognate of “Schuh” in German and “shoe” in English). The plural was “schoen” (sort of by adding “-en” plural ending).
But somehow that became reinterpreted as the singular form, so we added “-en” again to create a new plural form “schoenen” which is actually a double plural.

Edit: We have other cases similar to “schoenen”. For example “teen”, which was once the plural form of “tee” (cognate of “toe” in English and “Zeh” in German), but “teen” then became the singular form and we added “-en” again for a new plural “tenen” (toes).


Interestingly, that also seems to be a double plural.
In Germanic languages some plurals were/are not made by adding a suffix, but by changing the main vowel of a word. For example, in German you have singular “Bruder” (brother) versus plural “Brüder” (brothers).

As far as I’m aware, Dutch has lost this completely. But English still has some remnants, like singular “man” versus plural “men” and singular “goose” versus plural “geese”.

It seems that “brethren” was formed by adding plural ending “-en” to “brether”, which was the plural of “brother” in Middle English.


But sometimes these are needed. I’ve always been fascinated by person, persons, people, peoples. The last referring to a plurality of an already plural thing.
(And person->people doesn’t follow any of the rules about plurals… I suppose because of being two different words that have become regulated in this way due to subsequent usage)

1 Like

And third person singular verbs (is that the right phrase?? I was educated at a time when grant wasn’t taught in schools so don’t really know anything about it, certainly not the technical terms. I mean like “he jumps” as opposed to I jump, you jump, we jump, they jump. Or maybe I should choose “he nitpicks”…)

Yes, the “-s” ending in the conjugation of the 3rd person singular present tense is also mentioned in the video. But perhaps that one is the least important “-s” ending, because losing the other verb conjugations doesn’t seem to be a problem for English?

1 Like

I think that “people” (singular, without an article) meaning “(a group of) humans”, is a bit of a quirk of English.
In Dutch we would usually say “mensen” (humans) in this context.

“People” (with an article, or in plural form) meaning a population with a shared culture and history, would be translated as “volk” in Dutch (and in German).
I think this meaning also coincides with the meaning of the French word “peuple”, from which the English word “people” orginates, but I’m not sure.

Edit: it seems I was wrong. “Peuple” in French can also have both meanings, as “people” in English.

Former student of linguistics but dropped out of university because 1. I lacked the discipline necessary for academia, and 2. had superficially monetarily attractive offers from employers :roll_eyes: anyway, here, for some pedantry, a table from Plural – Wikipedia (German WP)

Singular – Plural

Plus, there are quite a few more or less (!) irregular ones (see Wikipedia page)


If we learn to acknowledge such and similar findings faster, then maybe 2024 (OK, maybe 2050, IF we make it till then) will be better.


Plural formation in Dutch is much simpler and more regular than in German, although not as simple as in English.

Basic plural formation is -en ending, but there is also -s ending when the singular form ends with -el, -en, -er, -em or a vowel.

By those plural formation rules, many loanwords have plural -s, but there are also many native words that have it, like “egels” (hedgehogs), “vogels” (birds), “vlinders” (butterflies), “oma’s” (grannies), “vaders” (fathers), “(schaap)herders” (shepherds), “varkens” (pigs), “kuikens” (chickens, chicks).

It seems that plural -s is a relatively recent development in Dutch (after the middle-ages), because the double plurals of “schoenen” and “tenen” seem to predate it. If the modern plural formation rules would have been applied to the Middle Dutch singular forms “schoe” and “tee”, the plural forms would have been “schoes” and “tees”.

Besides plural -en and -s, there are some words that have the double plural -eren that I mentioned earlier, where the Middle Dutch plural ending was just -er like equivalent German words:
“kinderen” (children), “bladeren” (leaves), “eieren” (eggs), “goederen” (goods) and more archaic “volkeren” (peoples), “beenderen” (bones), “kalveren” (calves), “runderen” (cattle), “klederen” (clothes), “liederen” (songs). “raderen” (wheels, cogs), “hoenderen” (hens, chickens), “lammeren” (lambs), “gemoederen” (moods).

Related notes:

Some Dutch words happen to end with s in singular form, like “schaats” (skate), plural “schaatsen”.
But when “schaats” was borrowed into English, they dropped the s to avoid confusion with plural -s, hence the English singular form “skate” instead of “skates”.

Some Dutch words happen to end with en in singular form, like “varken” (pig), plural “varkens”.
But in Afrikaans they dropped the en to avoid confusion with plural -en, hence the Afrikaans word “aardvark” (earth pig), which was subsequently borrowed into English.

It seems that the ending of singular “varken” does not derive from an old plural -en added to singular “vark”. Instead the ending of “varken” seems to derive from an old diminutive suffix -(e)kin added to a root “fare”/“farh”/“var” (pig), perhaps related to English “farrow”. So the modern word “varkentje” (piglet) is in fact a double diminutive. “Kuikentje” (baby chicken) is a similar double diminutive.

I assume the old diminutive suffix -(e)kin survived as the diminutive suffix -chen in German and -(e)ke in southern Dutch dialects and in many female Dutch personal names, but I didn’t check if that’s actually true.


It’s interesting and I’m always curious about the resolutions of these kinds of things.

1 Like

Sad times. Although not very surprising. It seems that American English is spreading rather well via social media. Young people are using pinky, truck and trash and many others quite commonly now I have the impression. I don’t know so much about modern insults I’ve realised!


What can one expect from an old plonker like you!


You’ve nailed it there, you scallywag!


Prats, all of you!

What with yer boards ’n’ stones, y’all just wanta trick me into playing bad moves.
I’ll show ya … what REALLY bad moves are!


Live open air video portal opened between Dublin and New York:

I think it’s funny, almost as if people on both sides are acting like the other side is a zoo enclosure, except with humans in it.