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Octopi
April 22, 2009 1:17 PM   Subscribe


 
And the reason they throw the octopus, by the way, is because originally, you had to win 8 games (post-season) to win the Cup, eh.
posted by Mister_A at 1:19 PM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


*ahem* GO WINGS

That is all.
posted by indiebass at 1:22 PM on April 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


The tradition dates back to 1952:
"The Motor City's proud tradition of saluting the Detroit Red Wings with slimy creatures of the deep dates back over half a century.

The first octopus landed on the ice during the Red Wings' 1952 Stanley Cup run, courtesy of brothers Pete and Jerry Cusimano, who owned a fish market. If you know your cephalopods, you will know that an octopus has eight tentacles. In those days it took eight playoff wins to claim the Cup, hence the supposed symbolism of the gesture.

The Red Wings were perfect in the '52 playoffs, sweeping the semifinal and the final in straight games. The octopus has been a good luck charm ever since.

By 1995, the team had adopted the tradition by introducing a mascot, Al the Octopus. Al is raised to the rafters of Joe Louis Arena before every home playoff game, and used in team merchandising and promotion."
posted by ericb at 1:22 PM on April 22, 2009


This post delivers. Thank you.
posted by jellywerker at 1:25 PM on April 22, 2009


the ability to walk normally with 4 pounds of slimy cephalopod stuffed down your pants

Yeah, it's much more difficult than it looks in hentai movies. A pair of prosthetic cosplay tentacles DO NOT make it easier, either.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:25 PM on April 22, 2009


Is that 4 pounds of slimy cephalopod stuffed down your pants or are you just glad to see the eight of us?
posted by bondcliff at 1:30 PM on April 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


My mom taught me to not play with my food.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:31 PM on April 22, 2009


here is the original columbus dispatch article. also from the dispatch, a picture of an attempted octopus toss during the game.

the red wings fans may as well stuff brooms down their pants the way that the blue jackets have been playing.
posted by the aloha at 1:31 PM on April 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Detroit Red Wings building manager Al Sobotka (who would twirl the octupi which landed on home ice over his head until last year when he was threatened with a $10,000 fine if he continued his part in the tradition)
WXYZ: Detroit Red Wings Octopus Debate [video [01:41].

NPR: Detroit Red Wings' Good-Luck Charm? The Octopus [audio | 03:29].
posted by ericb at 1:32 PM on April 22, 2009


"Tell the Japanese to stop eating us. We can open jars, you know."

Ratzo, leader of the howling cephalopods.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:32 PM on April 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


OK. This post intrigues me, but I'm SO afraid of clicking that first link...
posted by qvantamon at 1:35 PM on April 22, 2009


I remember a few cod fishes thrown for the Bruins at the old Boston Garden. the trend didn't take, sadly. (GO B'S!)
posted by kuujjuarapik at 1:35 PM on April 22, 2009


Did you hear about the man with eight penises?

His pants fit him like an octopus.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:36 PM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


wait, in 1996, two guys tossed a 50 pound octopus onto the ice? HOW THE HELL DID THEY GET THAT IN THE ARENA?!
posted by shmegegge at 1:36 PM on April 22, 2009


the ability to walk normally with 4 pounds of slimy cephalopod stuffed down your pants

Or as it's known in my house "getting ready for work". If you can talk down an angry customer with an octopus ready to bite, grab or squirt at your nether region for the slightest perceived insult, you can do anything.

Plus, if a meeting gets tense, you can always whip that bad boy out and shut everybody the hell up. No one argues with a man who just pulled something like that out of the front of their slacks. No one.
posted by quin at 1:37 PM on April 22, 2009 [11 favorites]


'Sobotka'? Now where have I heard that name...
posted by From Bklyn at 1:37 PM on April 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


Octopus Etiquette:
"There is a certain etiquette that must be followed for fans that wish to throw octopuses onto the ice.

Beforehand, an octopus should be boiled for at least 20 minutes on high heat with a little lemon juice and white wine. This will mask the creature's odor as well as reducing the amount of slime. A raw dead thrown octopus would result in a smelly ball that would stick to the ice upon impact and possibly leave an inky stain, while a well-boiled octopus will bounce and roll across the surface of the ice.

After the octopus has been properly prepared it must be smuggled into the ice arena, as it is against the law in Detroit (and other NHL cities) for a fan to throw anything onto the ice during a game. A preferred method is to wrap the octopus in plastic (a trash bag or a large Ziploc bag will do) and then wrap the package around one's middle section to give the appearance of a beer belly.

The most appropriate time to throw an octopus onto the ice is after the national anthem is sung or after the Red Wings have scored a goal. The octopus must be thrown onto the ice surface in an area that is clear of all players. It is never acceptable to aim for opposing players. Tactics are also used to protect the identity of octopus-throwers from arena security. It is common practice for the hurler to ask the surrounding people to stand up with him to shroud the task in anonymity.

Experienced throwers grasp the octopus around the middle of its arms with the octopus's head (or more correctly, its mantle) hanging down near the thrower's knee and then swings the octopus with an overarm motion. Holding the octopus by the ends of its arms prior to the throw may result in the mantle of the octopus breaking off during the wind-up.

After successfully participating in this peculiar tradition, the octopus thrower is left with a tell-tale indicator: stinky hands. It is advisable to bring along a wet wipe and a slice of lemon to assist in removing the odor."
posted by ericb at 1:37 PM on April 22, 2009 [13 favorites]


So now the octopus joins the goat in the Strange Local Ritual Involving Animals Being Tossed club.

At least no one (that I know of) has tried to stuff a goat down their pants.
posted by tommasz at 1:40 PM on April 22, 2009


Best. Lede. Ever.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:42 PM on April 22, 2009


Oh Detroit. So much to answer for.
posted by punkfloyd at 1:42 PM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ugh - they don't mention that the octopi are dead until the end of the article. Otherwise it would be pretty cruel. And even weirder to have in your trousers.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 1:47 PM on April 22, 2009


Wouldn't a man with six penises have pants that fit him like an octopus? Surely a man with eight penises would have pants that fit him like a squid.
posted by yhbc at 1:49 PM on April 22, 2009


Ugh - they don't mention that the octopi are dead until the end of the article.

I'm pretty sure most people would assume that already?
posted by Burhanistan at 1:50 PM on April 22, 2009


I love nearly all seafood, but don't like to eat octopi. Not because of their suctiony tentacles, or their beaks, or their rubbery texture. It's their intelligent nature - akin to the thought of eating dolphins or dogs. They play with the same toys I did as a child. They can be so cute and cuddly! I not-so-secretly desire pet octopus.

That said, it was kinda sad to see that octopus being tossed around. Toss squid or geoducks or sea cucumbers or some other form of sea life.
posted by jabberjaw at 1:53 PM on April 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


I can't be the first nitpicker to point out that the plural is "octopuses"?
posted by with hidden noise at 1:54 PM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


+1 Go Wings!!
posted by jpdoane at 2:01 PM on April 22, 2009


I feel bad for the octopi. No one should have their story end in Detroit. Much less thrown onto the ice at a sporting event by Red Wings fans, creatures arguably less intelligent than themselves.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 2:07 PM on April 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


the plural is "octopuses"?

See also; "octopodes".

"Octopi" is just fun to say though, so it gets a pass in my book.
posted by quin at 2:10 PM on April 22, 2009


Next they'll be trying to keep the cats out of Wrigley Field.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 2:14 PM on April 22, 2009


Much as I love my Wings, no discussion of throwing things on the ice is complete without mentioning Scott Mellanby, the Florida Panthers... and lots of plastic rats.
posted by Pufferish at 2:18 PM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Blue Jackets should simply be happy that the NHL playoffs are bloated enough to allow them in. But it is a nice change for the Wings, who usually have to spend their opening round shuttling between Detroit and somewhere like San Jose or Anaheim, which is hell on the jet lag.

Wings are looking pretty good to win the Cup again too, what with the off-season poaching they did. Shame that the Pistons are having a much harder time in Ohio.
posted by klangklangston at 2:22 PM on April 22, 2009


Are squids as smart as octupuses? I stopped eating calamari when I found out how intelligent octupuses are, because I figured squids were right up there with them.

Someone please tell me squids are idiots.
posted by Evangeline at 2:24 PM on April 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ha-rumph... (read: what indiebass said.)
*GO WINGS!*
posted by Drasher at 2:30 PM on April 22, 2009


Seconding indiebass above, I would love to see Wings going 5 Stanleys in the past 12 years, and give me another paper front page to keep in my archives (The 1997 freep front page hangs on my wall, still, its very very yellow glory).

GO WINGS!!!
posted by JoeXIII007 at 2:31 PM on April 22, 2009


and lots of plastic rats.

I remember, sometime in the nineties I think, an American TV news story about this new game of professional ice hockey coming to Florida. And they showed how, to drum up interest, the had the Stanley Cup at a local mall, filled with plastic rats, because the town was awash in Rat Fever.

I was dumbstruck. You have to understand that, to a Canadian boy, actually being in the presence of the Stanley Cup is a Religious Experience. I recall distinctly the feeling of awe my brother and I had the one and only time I saw it in real life, when my father took us to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

And here it was in a mall in Florida. Full of plastic rats. With a bunch of Americans who really, really couldn't give two shits about hockey passing nonchalantly by. That kind of summed up for me what Gary Bettman was planning to do to hockey.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 2:32 PM on April 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


They play with the same toys I did as a child.

Yeah, I have this problem with this, too. I saw that picture of the guy swinging the octopus on the article, and I just thought "that poor thing!" - so undignified.
posted by dammitjim at 2:36 PM on April 22, 2009


I also stopped eating octopus after learning how intelligent they are. I don't even like seeing them (or dolphins or whales, or pinnipeds) in tanks, either. It's not something I commonly would like to eat, anyway. If they tasted like bacon or cheeseburgers the decision might be more difficult, but they don't so it's easy.

Squid, however, I am ambivalent about. If we don't eat them they'll eventually recover the ability to use their lost high technology undoubtedly packed with death rays and faster than light drives and they'll eventually eat us. Again.
posted by loquacious at 2:37 PM on April 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Evangeline : Someone please tell me squids are idiots.

I don't believe they exhibit quite the same level of reasoning as octipus, but they ain't dumb; they use some fairly sophisticated coordinated hunting techniques and their flashing colors appears to be a complicated form of communication.

Sorry.

Cuttlefish are pretty bright too, if memory serves.
posted by quin at 2:40 PM on April 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is that 4 pounds of slimy cephalopod stuffed down your pants or are you just glad to see the eight of us?

Is that 4 pounds of slimy cephalopod stuffed down your pants or are you Centauri?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:41 PM on April 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


If they were so smart they would've evolved a chemical that made their delicious flesh unpalatable to humans.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:42 PM on April 22, 2009


Tofu is dumber n' a brick, and delicious fried.

Mmmmm agadashi tofu...
posted by everichon at 2:45 PM on April 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Squids are pretty smart as well, and even have personalities. However even squid like to eat other squid: they're the cannibals of the deeps. Also, they're just plain mean.
posted by bonehead at 2:45 PM on April 22, 2009


We have a similar tradition with the Seattle Mariners where we dump crusty old seamen on the field before the game.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:48 PM on April 22, 2009


When squids attack! (actually it's just a cuttlefish)
posted by bonehead at 2:49 PM on April 22, 2009


Err, did anyone post info about the hockey/dildo incident we had in Sweden few months back?
posted by uandt at 3:00 PM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know what the trouble is, From Bklyn? We used to make shit in this country, build shit. Now we just put our hand in the next guy's pocket. And there's a freakin' octopus in it.
posted by ooga_booga at 3:00 PM on April 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


However even squid like to eat other squid: they're the cannibals of the deeps.

I just might be projecting/anthropomorphizing, but I get the sense that the other squid are attacking the hooked squid to prevent the humans from getting him. It's a mercy kill. I don't speak squid so I can't be sure, however.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:07 PM on April 22, 2009


I faved this post without clicking any of the links, or even reading it fully. Cephalopods + inrtarnets = 8(fun)
posted by not_on_display at 3:08 PM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


WHERE IS YOUR QUONSAR NOW??
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:09 PM on April 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is that an octopus in your pants or are you... oh.
posted by bpm140 at 3:13 PM on April 22, 2009


I don't speak squid so I can't be sure, however.

It's easy enough to learn, but the hardest part is learning to change color.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 3:14 PM on April 22, 2009


bonehead : (actually it's just a cuttlefish)

My wife keeps a number of elaborate salt water tanks including one for her reef critters, a predator one, one for her seahorses, and probably a few others that I'm forgetting. More time than I'd like to admit is spent each week going to all the local stores seeing what new cool sea-life they have in.

A few weeks ago she discovered something that is going to change things: cuttlefish eggs are out there to be had, and just-hatched baby cuttlefish are about one of the cutest things on the planet.

I expect that we will be setting up another new tank before too long.
posted by quin at 3:17 PM on April 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


I can't be the first nitpicker to point out that the plural is "octopuses"?

Um, in this thread, yes you are.

See also; "octopodes"...."Octopi" is just fun to say though, so it gets a pass in my book.

Exactly.

And, according to AskOxford, "octopi" ("in fact an error") "has been in use for longer than the usual Anglicized plural octopuses" and has been accepted as "common usage."
"English words of Latin or Greek origin have rather unpredictable plurals, and each one usually depends on how well established that particular word is. It may also depend on whether the Latin or Greek form of the plural is either easily recognizable or pleasant to the speaker of English.

posted by ericb at 3:19 PM on April 22, 2009


but I get the sense that the other squid are attacking the hooked squid to prevent the humans from getting him.

I just watched a documentary on the Humboldt squid a couple of weeks ago, and they discussed the cannibal aspect, they weren't really exactly sure what causes it, but it does always seem to be in connection to squid fishing operations. I suspect it's more a blood-in-the-water-attack-everything kind of thing, but they are smart so who can tell.

Interestingly, when they were shooting the footage of the squid away from the fishing boats, they were very gentle with the people and one another, and acted in concert with each other for the purposes of hunting.
posted by quin at 3:24 PM on April 22, 2009


Those caught carrying an octopus must surrender it before being allowed to enter.

I want to make this into a sign and nail it to my door.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:28 PM on April 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Err, did anyone post info about the hockey/dildo incident we had in Sweden few months back?

No, but wow.
AIK club management was aware of their fans’ plans for knocking Huokko off his game, but elected not to intervene. “We’d also heard mention of it, but we decided that it would only be worse if we went out and told the fans they were absolutely not allowed to throw dildos on the ice,” said AIK club head Mats Hedenström to the newspaper.
Let freedom ring!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:30 PM on April 22, 2009


Sigh.

Goddamn Squid Flippers.
posted by eriko at 3:37 PM on April 22, 2009


Wow. By what I have learned in this thread, the UCSB tradition of throwing tortillas is downright mundane.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:44 PM on April 22, 2009


As creepy as the book and author are, Orson Scott Card's Lost Boys has a nice little passage on the plural of octopus.

Also, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank It's Raining Florence Henderson for the layup, which I'm sure someone will use judiciously.

Someone needs to start a tradition like this with the Sharks.
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 3:48 PM on April 22, 2009


And the reason they throw the octopus, by the way, is because originally, you had to win 8 games (post-season) to win the Cup, eh.

You still do. And eight more.

Wings and Detroit should be fucking ashamed that they couldn't sell out a Stanley Cup WIN. We only made it the finals in Calgary five fucking years ago and we STILL call 17th Ave SW b/t 4 and 14 Streets "the Red Mile" after the impromptu celebrations that took place there during the Flames' run. We could sell out the Saddledome several times over during the regular season for every single game and "Hockeytown USA" can't even sell out a cup FINAL? And Detroit is more than 5 million people, metro? Each of Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa are 1 million soaking wet and they demolish Detroit on attendance.

Canadian teams are subsidizing bankrupt franchises in the US left and right. "Hockeytown" my ass- does anybody who actually lives IN Detroit, not its white-flight exurbs, watch hockey with even one eye? Of course not. Maybe Warren or fucking Bloomfield Hills should call itself "Hockeytown." Or, fuck, Windsor, since I'm sure most of "Detroit's" fans are actually from SW Ontario.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 3:49 PM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am also disappointed by the lack of reference to Cthulhu so far. Metafilter's gone so soft.
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 3:57 PM on April 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's bad to waste food.
posted by Iron Rat at 4:06 PM on April 22, 2009


GO CANUCKS!!
posted by deborah at 4:07 PM on April 22, 2009


Maybe Warren or fucking Bloomfield Hills should call itself "Hockeytown." Or, fuck, Windsor, since I'm sure most of "Detroit's" fans are actually from SW Ontario.

And I'm sure that you don't know what you're talking about.
posted by pmurray63 at 4:35 PM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Octopi-ay-ay.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:36 PM on April 22, 2009


Required viewing.
posted by katillathehun at 4:38 PM on April 22, 2009


christhelongtimelurker: I came in here looking for Cthulhu and was very disappointed to see people actually talking about hockey and octopuses, both of which are far less interesting that the gibbering terror instilled in one by the great old ones.
posted by djfiander at 5:05 PM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Tofu is delicious as a dumb, fried brick.
posted by JustAsItSounds at 5:21 PM on April 22, 2009


"You have to understand that, to a Canadian boy, actually being in the presence of the Stanley Cup is a Religious Experience. I recall distinctly the feeling of awe my brother and I had the one and only time I saw it in real life, when my father took us to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"And here it was in a mall in Florida. Full of plastic rats. With a bunch of Americans who really, really couldn't give two shits about hockey passing nonchalantly by. That kind of summed up for me what Gary Bettman was planning to do to hockey."


Well to be fair it's hardly the worst indignity to be inflicted. After all the cup was left in a snow bank at one point and has been to strip clubs and martial beds.
posted by Mitheral at 5:50 PM on April 22, 2009


"Canadian teams are subsidizing bankrupt franchises in the US left and right. "Hockeytown" my ass- does anybody who actually lives IN Detroit, not its white-flight exurbs, watch hockey with even one eye? Of course not. Maybe Warren or fucking Bloomfield Hills should call itself "Hockeytown." Or, fuck, Windsor, since I'm sure most of "Detroit's" fans are actually from SW Ontario."

Attendance graph.
via.

The claim that Calgary "demolishes" Detroit is bullshit, unless you're going by some bizarre per-capita-but-only-in-good-years metric.

What is true is that the flames are some bandwagon fans, whereas the fairly constant attendance at the Joe backs up the claim to Hockeytown.

At least we didn't have to get our team from Atlanta.
posted by klangklangston at 5:59 PM on April 22, 2009


Well to be fair it's hardly the worst indignity to be inflicted. After all the cup was left in a snow bank at one point and has been to strip clubs and martial beds.

I went to a (vendor-sponsored) luxury box at a horse track in Dallas one time, and in the next luxury box over were the Dallas Stars, the Stanley Cup, and 9,000, um, exotic dancers.
posted by popechunk at 6:08 PM on April 22, 2009


Well, the Montreal Canadians are out, looks like I sacrificed a lamb for nothing. BBQ anyone?
posted by racingjs at 6:55 PM on April 22, 2009


Wouldn't a man with six penises have pants that fit him like an octopus? Surely a man with eight penises would have pants that fit him like a squid

You're thinking of insects vs. spiders.

OCTOpuses have eight arms.

I have seen documentary footage of various cephalopods over the years and quite frankly they terrify me.

I would therefore like to leave the following message for our eventual squid/octopus and/or cuttlefish overlords.

I do not ever eat Calamari. I have never thrown an octopus onto a hockey rink. I respect all Cephalopod life forms. If you are scanning this internet archive during my lifetime please do not kill and/or eat me. Otherwise, I ask that you treat my corpse with the respect I have always shown to you and your kind.

Good luck and enjoy your tenure as the caretakers of the Planet.

Sorry about the mess.
posted by Bonzai at 7:07 PM on April 22, 2009


Wow indeed. How we treat our animal friends. Even if they are food.
posted by sneebler at 7:33 PM on April 22, 2009


- Wouldn't a man with six penises have pants that fit him like an octopus? Surely a man with eight penises would have pants that fit him like a squid

You're thinking of insects vs. spiders.

OCTOpuses have eight arms.


Squid have eight arms and two tenticles. A man with eight penises would have eight arms and two... testicles.
posted by amicamentis at 7:54 PM on April 22, 2009


At least, I think that was the joke.
posted by amicamentis at 8:29 PM on April 22, 2009


Canadian teams are subsidizing bankrupt franchises in the US left and right. "Hockeytown" my ass- does anybody who actually lives IN Detroit, not its white-flight exurbs, watch hockey with even one eye? Of course not. Maybe Warren or fucking Bloomfield Hills should call itself "Hockeytown." Or, fuck, Windsor, since I'm sure most of "Detroit's" fans are actually from SW Ontario.

Well, I'll give you that few people actually living in "Detroit" go to the games, but the Detroit metro area is a hotbed for hockey -- rinks, teams and leagues from pee-wee on up all over the area. We had 1.4 million folks show up for the most recent Stanley Cup parade -- don't think they came from Windsor (population ~215k). Heck, we even had 74,544 show up for a college hockey game up in Lansing in 2001, and nobody's topped that one yet. A few unsold finals tickets don't shock me in this economy, pretty hard to justify nosebleed finals tickets at ~$250+ each when you're underwater on your mortgage.

So I guess if you want to troll on the technicality that most of the fans aren't "in" Detroit but next door to it, good on you. But wow, do you not understand what this area is really like! Toronto it isn't, but aside from Minneapolis, there's nowhere better in the U.S. for hockey at all levels.
posted by Pufferish at 8:46 PM on April 22, 2009


Who wants four hugs?
posted by Rhaomi at 9:06 PM on April 22, 2009


say what you will about octopuses, but throwing a litter box onto ford field didn't work worth a DAMN last year
posted by pyramid termite at 9:14 PM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wasn't rooting for the Blue Jackets, because I don't give a shit about hockey. Now I am. Octopi, indeed.
posted by HopperFan at 9:28 PM on April 22, 2009


Squid have eight arms and two tenticles. A man with eight penises would have eight arms and two... testicles.

Legs, you perverts! What else do you keep in your pants besides whatever ungodly number of penises you happen to have flopping around down there? YOUR LEGS, that's what!
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:08 PM on April 22, 2009


Legs don't actually require pants. Pensii do.
posted by loquacious at 10:51 PM on April 22, 2009


O R'LYEH?
posted by Elmore at 2:09 AM on April 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


And, according to AskOxford, "octopi" ("in fact an error") "has been in use for longer than the usual Anglicized plural octopuses" and has been accepted as "common usage."

Exactly. And if "octopi" is in some sense an error, it's one the Greeks and Romans themselves made, so it's pretty silly of us to complain about it. As I said here, "It does sound like your average Greek-in-the-street might not have connected polypous (and by extension oktapous) very closely with pous, podos and might have used oktapoi as a plural (and been slapped down by the Safires of the day)." (It's very strange that Bill Poser, a professional linguist, called it "wrong." Just goes to show you how specialized linguistics is these days; Poser may know a lot about phonetics and computational methods, but evidently missed out on some of the basic stuff everyone used to learn in Ling 101.)

As creepy as the book and author are, Orson Scott Card's Lost Boys has a nice little passage on the plural of octopus.


"Nice"? I'd say "stupid and misleading." He writes:
"...octopi is not the preferred spelling. It is not a spelling at all. The word does not exist, except in the mouths of those who are pretending to be educated but in fact are not. ... Instead, the syllable pus in octopus is the Greek word for 'foot.' And it forms its plural the Greek way. Therefore octopoda, not octopi. Never octopi."
This is completely moronic. 1) Yes, octopi is a spelling, and the word does exist; in fact, it's in all the dictionaries. 2) No, octopoda is not the Greek plural; it's a modern scientific term for an order of cephalopods. Orson Scott Card is not just a creepy bigot, he's an ignoramus and a liar.
posted by languagehat at 6:09 AM on April 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


If dolphins octopi are so smart, then why do they live in igloos?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:13 AM on April 23, 2009


"I feel bad for the octopi. No one should have their story end in Detroit. Much less thrown onto the ice at a sporting event by Red Wings fans, creatures arguably less intelligent than themselves."

You show me an octopus's SAT scores and I'll show you mine. PhD. Wings fan. Suck it.

"Heck, we even had 74,544 show up for a college hockey game up in Lansing in 2001"

...and I was hoarse for days afterwards! 3-3 tie, Jimmy Slater scored the tying goal, stadium went nuts, everyone had a blast, and despite wishing like hell my team would pull off the win, it was pretty much perfect. (Oh, and it was East Lansing. Go State!)
posted by caution live frogs at 6:25 AM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Between languagehat's comment here and iamkimiam's in another thread, I think I may actually have gotten my recommended daily allowance of linguistics today. My daily life is usually so linguistics deficient, I'd almost forgotten what that felt like (it's kind of like when the sun starts to come out after the winter's over, and you realize you haven't been getting enough Vitamin D).

Thanks, y'all.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:27 AM on April 23, 2009


From the oft-maligned south: Go Canes! We love 'em through thick and thin.

And if your team is out, maybe this will make you want to jump on our bandwagon.

Being there = priceless.

Oh, oops. "Octopuses". There, I'm on topic.
posted by freecellwizard at 8:20 AM on April 23, 2009


How funny, the author of the Today in Tentacles blog happens to be a friend of mine! I was about to send her a link to the article posted, and then saw that her blog was linked in the post as well.

It's a small cephalopod world!
posted by wretched_rhapsody at 9:34 AM on April 23, 2009


Re: Octopodes,

My understanding is that since 'octopus' comes from Greek, 'octopodes' is the proper pluralization.

'Octopi' is definitely wrong, since it is Greek pluralized incorrectly as though it were Latin.

'Octopuses' is ugly but acceptable, since it is an after-the-fact pluralization using English rules of grammar.

All that being said, octopodes are wonderful and amazing creatures.
posted by sindark at 1:16 PM on April 23, 2009


My understanding is that since 'octopus' comes from Greek, 'octopodes' is the proper pluralization.

'Octopi' is definitely wrong, since it is Greek pluralized incorrectly as though it were Latin.


My understanding is that it's Octopi, since it's in every dictionary as "Octopi" and this is English, great butcherer of other languages.
posted by shmegegge at 1:22 PM on April 23, 2009


We even make up words like automobile out of whatever bits of Greek and Latin suit our fevered fancy.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:32 PM on April 23, 2009


I like to think of the weeping prescriptivists who first heard the word "television."
posted by klangklangston at 2:33 PM on April 23, 2009


My understanding is that since 'octopus' comes from Greek, 'octopodes' is the proper pluralization.

'Octopi' is definitely wrong, since it is Greek pluralized incorrectly as though it were Latin.


Your understanding is wrong, but you wouldn't have wound up demonstrating that in public had you bothered reading the rest of the thread. Note: You don't get to decide what's "wrong" based on what you personally dislike.
posted by languagehat at 6:10 AM on April 24, 2009


That's my job, and you're an uneducated ass if you don't use the term "octoplural."
posted by klangklangston at 7:50 AM on April 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Octomopuseses," you ingrate.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:52 AM on April 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Clearly what is needed here is some sort of collective noun. I suggest a "C'thulhu fhtagn of octipus".
posted by quin at 8:20 AM on April 24, 2009


also, the plural of octopus is clearly hexadecapus.
posted by shmegegge at 8:23 AM on April 24, 2009


Well, sure, if you've only got two. Then it's tetraicosapus, and after that, octoplus.
posted by klangklangston at 8:43 AM on April 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


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