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Re: [peditors] Digest Number 66

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  • Mark_Mandel@dragonsys.com
    ... PUZZLE OF THE DAY: I put on my pants and my shirt. Why not pant and my shirts or any combination thereof. Even if I put on my eyeglass [sic], and try to
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2000
      Paul of the Nevai wrote:

      >>>>>
      PUZZLE OF THE DAY: I put on my pants and my shirt. Why not "pant and my
      shirts" or any combination thereof. Even if I put on my eyeglass [sic], and
      try to smell it with my noses [sic - I got 2 holes called nostrils], it
      makes
      no sense whatsoever.
      <<<<<

      Not any more, but it used to.

      "Nostril" comes from Old English "nos-thyrl", literally 'nose-hole', and
      THAT makes perfect sense: one nose with two holes in it. "An eyeglass" is,
      or used to be, what we now call a monocle; if you have a lens for each of
      your two eyes, you obviously have eyeglassES.

      I'm not sure how "pants", or rather its immediate predecessor "pantaloons",
      became plural, but it may be because of the two legs; cf. "leggings",
      "breeches", "tights" and their opposite "slacks"; also "scissors" (with two
      blades). But a shirt has only one main part, unless it was made for Eng and
      Chang (the original *Siamese* twins).

      Yours sincerely,

      -- Dr. Whom: Consulting Linguist, Grammarian, Orthoepist, and Philological Busybody
      a.k.a. Mark A. Mandel
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