When answering queries from non-English language speakers about the oddities of our language, nothing stymies the process more than plural references – particularly when pertaining to animals.
A typical day on the farm illustrates all…
Juan: Senora! The sheeps are escaped!
Me (ever helpful): Sheep. The sheep have escaped….without the ‘s’.
NO DAMN SHEEPS!
Juan: Senora! The pig is loose!
Me: PIGS. The PIGS are loose. WITH the ‘S’.
Juan (less confidently, still stewing about the pigs, apparently): Lady, the running pork got out again.
(Obviously he’s found a way to circumvent the entire ‘S’ question. Sorry dude: won’t work….:)
Me: RUNNING PORKS. WITH the ‘s’. Actually, it’s still PIGS – but I like your description better. Let’s round ‘em up!
Juan: The grain has become full of mouses!
Me (sighing): Mice. The mice have gotten into the grain. No ‘becoming’ involved…
(At this point Juan is smelling a rat…)
Juan (puzzled): Meece?
Me: No, mice.
Juan (thoroughly confused, and now suspecting a rouse on my part): Why ‘sheeps’ then; why not ‘shice’?
Me (issuing disclaimer): Hey – I didn’t INVENT it … I just USE IT!
Juan (resentfully): Why?? Spanish make MUCH more sense.
Me: I know … hey, did you see the neighbors’ new geese?
Juan (superiorly): GOOSES. Yes, I saw neighbors’ new GOOSES. They got through fence and chased our sheeps. And went after mouses, too. Running porks not afraid, though.
Me (sighing): FINE.
So much for English…hey, if God wanted me to ‘splain English, I’d have been born an English teacher. That’s why I’m a writer. I do much better on paper…
The rural world has enough issues to describe without rampaging sheeps, running porks, gooses, and mousies running off with the English language!