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Why is walri not the correct pluralization of walrus?

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Why could the plural not be 'walrus', as in, one sheep many sheep? –  user71636 Apr 10 at 14:00
    
I suppose it could be (in some alternative universe) but it isn't (in the real world). –  Andreas Blass Apr 10 at 14:04

1 Answer 1

Only some words of Latin extraction ending in -us, which were second declension nouns in Latin, take -i as plural.

Walrus comes from Dutch, and is akin to Danish and Norwegian hvalros. It is not a Latin second declension noun, so there is no reason it would be pluralized with -i.

The plural of walrus is walruses.

Edit: I just want add an additional note to clarify that even in cases where an English word does come from a Latin second declension noun, its plural might not necessarily end in -i. For example, the plural of campus is campuses not campi, and the plural of bonus is bonuses not boni.

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Exactly. Similar situation with octopus (which is of Greek origin), pluralised to octopodes if you're being 'proper'. –  Noldorin Oct 7 '10 at 19:05
    
Aren't there also lots of Latin-derived words that don't use the Latin pluralization? I mean, we're not speaking Latin here. –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Oct 7 '10 at 19:45
    
@Mr. Shiny and New yes, you are exactly right—that’s why I said “Only some words of Latin extraction.” –  nohat Oct 7 '10 at 19:52
    
aha, I didn't interpret your sentence that way actually; I thought you meant "Only some words - those which were second declension nouns - take i as plural". I guess on re-reading your statement it also (subtly, IMO) covers the point that even if Walrus WAS one of the -i nouns that doesn't mean it still IS. :) –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Oct 7 '10 at 20:00
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So arguably the "correct" plural (if you're a prescriptivist who likes importing plurals) is "walrussen" or "walrusser". –  Jon Purdy Oct 8 '10 at 23:50

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