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 '14 at 14:00
  • I suppose it could be (in some alternative universe) but it isn't (in the real world). – Andreas Blass Apr 10 '14 at 14:04

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
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    @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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