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Passions in Poetry

The Plural of Belief

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Essorant
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0 posted 02-01-2007 04:49 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant


The plural of leaf is rightly leaves, but how come the plural of belief is not believes?
Not A Poet
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1 posted 02-01-2007 07:01 PM       View Profile for Not A Poet   Email Not A Poet   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Not A Poet's Home Page   View IP for Not A Poet

Maybe because it's not beleaf?
Essorant
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2 posted 02-01-2007 07:10 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

No, no I meant the behaviour of the f / v:



leaf - leaves
sheaf - sheaves
thief - thieves
loaf - loaves
life - lives
knife - knives

But

belief - beliefs (not believes)


See what I mean?        


Ron
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3 posted 02-01-2007 09:57 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

If language were designed for consistency, I suspect we'd still be counting grunts. Er, come to think of it, I guess some still do. Da dum, da dum, da dum.

At least, that's what I used to beleft.


rachaelfuchsberger
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4 posted 02-21-2007 10:15 PM       View Profile for rachaelfuchsberger   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for rachaelfuchsberger

The plural of belief is beliefs. The only time you would use believes is if you were saying that someone believes in something. It's a tricky word, but you keep the f.

Rachael

rwood
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5 posted 02-24-2007 07:44 AM       View Profile for rwood   Email rwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for rwood

Great question.

"Belief" is a noun. Although it originated from the verb "bileven," it has its own meaning, and to separate it from believe the final consonant remained unaltered in plural translation. Also ie vs ea in origin plays a role in pluralization.

Leaf is tricky! Leaf, leafs, leave, leaves, leafed, and leaving? And the "other" noun leaver. No wonder people say English is the hardest language to learn.

when thinking of F and V, the simple word "of" has a V sound.

lof,
reg


Essorant
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6 posted 02-24-2007 11:06 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

But how come the plural of thief isn't thiefs (instead of thieves), to distinguish it from the verb, (he, she, it) thieves?   How come the plural of wife isn't wifes to distinguish it from the verb (he, she, it) wives?  Lifes, to distinguish it in spelling from (he, she it) lives?  This seems to be the only Native English noun with f in singular that doesn't have v in plural.  I make the distinction of "Native" because words from different languages (such as chief, grief, etc) came into the language artificially, and therefore may not follow the evolutionary "rules" as native words that were here from earliest beginnings of the english language, such as thief and belief.

"when thinking of F and V, the simple word "of" has a V sound."

That's because of is an "unstressed" form of the word off.  Unstressed often seems to result in voicing letters, such as f to voiced f (v) and s to voiced s (z).  


"No wonder people say English is the hardest language to learn."

I think that's usually people that never studied other languages.  Many other languages also have similar kinds of sound changes, but they also have many many more inflections and conjugations to remember as well.  So some would argue that English is actually one of the easiest, if not indeed the easiest of all languages to learn.


[This message has been edited by Essorant (02-24-2007 11:48 AM).]

Essorant
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7 posted 02-24-2007 12:49 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Do you know what the plural of midriff is.
Midrives or midriffs?
rachaelfuchsberger
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8 posted 02-25-2007 02:15 PM       View Profile for rachaelfuchsberger   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for rachaelfuchsberger

Midriffs. It's another one of those exceptions to the rule.

Rachael

rwood
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9 posted 02-25-2007 02:16 PM       View Profile for rwood   Email rwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for rwood

Oh my, in looking at the etymology it seems that "belief" is the only one that originated from a word that already had a V sound. Interesting.

midriffs--is correct.

English is my first love And I learn something new every day. Thanks.
rwood
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10 posted 02-25-2007 02:22 PM       View Profile for rwood   Email rwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for rwood

Oh and I also wanted to quote Gallagher, who was a famous comedian around the 80's.

"We go to school to learn our ABC's and 123's and the first things we learn: There's no W in one but there is one in 2."

Essorant
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11 posted 02-27-2007 12:00 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

"Midriffs. It's another one of those exceptions to the rule. "


In further consideration I think there may be a different rule at play with a word such as midriff, that word cliff supports too.  Both words have short i and originally didn't have two f's.  Based on just these two words we may interpret a rule of their own: the the rhyme -if became -iff, preventing the f in their plural from being vibrated to "v"


"Oh my, in looking at the etymology it seems that "belief" is the only one that originated from a word that already had a V sound. Interesting."


Most of the other already had the v-sound in their plurals too, Reg.  But in Old English the v-sound was also represented with the letter f because it was just a variation of the f-sound, when f showed up between two vowels or a vowel and a voiced consonant (usually r or l) making it become voiced or vibrated to the v-sound.  No native English word originally began or ended with a v-sound.

The v-sound in most foreign words however is a bit different.  In latin the letters v and u represented both the u-sound or the w-sound.  But later, as in French, w-sounds became v-sounds, whence we get the v-sounds in words such as virtue and value.

Thus, the v in native English words comes from the f-sound in voiced positions, but the v in (most) foreign words comes from the w-sound.

ChristianSpeaks
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12 posted 02-28-2007 11:05 AM       View Profile for ChristianSpeaks   Email ChristianSpeaks   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for ChristianSpeaks

I think that if we were fully caught up in our language making sense we would unanimously throw out English and adopt a Romantic language. Can you say Spanish as the national language?

cs
Julius_2
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13 posted 04-09-2009 12:14 PM       View Profile for Julius_2   Email Julius_2   Edit/Delete Message     View IP for Julius_2

Si puedo decir Espanol sera el nuevo lenguaje romantico.

But meh further exeptions to your rule would be like Sheriff and such. *double "ff"*

Essorant
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14 posted 04-18-2009 02:34 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Indeed, I think those exceptions should be considered as caused by "analogy".  The f originally was vibrated in the plurals of all the words listed above because it came between the vowel of the word and the vowel of plural endings, -as, or an/en.   But since in the singular either the f wasn't originally vibrated or after the loss of a final vowel came to be at the end of the word and was no longer vibrated, soon the plurals mimed the pronunciation of the singular and then people continued pronunciating them in that wise.

Except for the word wife.  Originally wife was a neuter noun with a long vowel whose plural looked exactly like its singular: wif (singular)/wif (plural).  We have a few of those kinds of words that still retain such plurals: deer (singular)/deer (plural), sheep (singular)/sheep(plural), swine(singular)/swine(plural) etc.  
 
 
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