Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Title text: Even if the dictionaries are starting to give in, I refuse to accept 'octopi' as a word mainly because--I'm not making this up--there's a really satisfying climactic scene in the Orson Scott Card horror novel 'Lost Boys' which hinges on it being an incorrect pluralization.
Let's get this out of the way before it starts a flame war on here: according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary online that octopi, octopuses, and octopodes (only if you are English) are all the correct plural of octopus. It is a well put together video.
So, this comic is a reference to a typical fish and sea-life identification chart. Like this or the US Air Force ID chart parody. So, it's basically a parody of a parody referencing the mimic octopus which, as the name implies, is able to mimic other animals.
The Orson Scott Card novel Lost Boys is (from Publisher's Weekly): "A withdrawn eight-year-old in a troubled family invents imaginary friends who bear the names of missing children in this absorbing thriller." (The relevant section, if you are curious, is on Google Books.)
- Southeast Asian Sea Life
- Identification Chart
- [There are silhouettes of eight individual fish, a school of fish, a scuba diver, an anemone, a submarine, and an anchor, each labeled "Mimic Octopus." There is also a silhouette of an octopus, labeled "Two Mimic Octopuses."]
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How does the mimic octopus manage to mimic multiple fish? Does it split it's own body up or something? Davidy22[talk] 13:30, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
- "When under attack, some octopuses can perform arm autotomy, in a similar manner to the way skinks and other lizards detach their tails. The crawling arm serves as a distraction to would-be predators. Such severed arms remain sensitive to stimuli and move away from unpleasant sensations." 22.214.171.124 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
For the record, octopus is from the Greek ὀκτάπους, a compound of ὀκτά (eight) and πούς (foot); πούς is a third declension masculine noun, whose plural is πόδες. Therefore, the etymologically correct plural of octopus should be octopodes, not (as Orson Scott Card suggests) octopoda, since πούς is not a neuter.
- Actually, it would be "octopuses", as it showed up after the regularization of English plurals to a final -s. As the video in the explanation explains, someone in the Victorian Grammarian Era "realized" it was "Latin" and pluralized it as such. This caught on and still haunts us to this day. "Octopdes" was coined around the same time by a more observant someone, who realized it was actually Greek. Personally, I avoid the whole trichotomy by saying "octopods". Unrelated etymologically, but has the same meaning and is unequivocally regular. Anonymous 08:08, 5 December 2013 (UTC)