Corpse & Corpses – An Injustice?

All day I’ve been thinking about how ‘corpse‘ is such a serious word. It has weight and dignity. It has an air of grand solemnness and gloom. It is dark with sorrow, with mourning, with death and all it represents. To read the word, or to say it, is to feel as though a great worm has crept down into the pit of my belly.

But the plural of ‘corpse’ is ‘corpses’. I say it out loud and it has a funny ring to it. Corpses. Corpses. It’s that last syllable, it forces a rise in inflection however much I try to keep my voice lowered to a suitable pitch. Corp-ses. Corp-ses. I try slow motion.

Corp —– ses. Cor ——p ———seeeees.

Nope, no good. Surely this is unfair; don’t two or more corpses deserve more gravity  and earnestness than just the one corpse? Even the word ‘corpses’ makes a sentence sound brighter than it should in the circumstances – Undertaker says to Mortuary Man, “I’ve come for my corpses,” or “Can I have my corpses, please?”

‘Corpsi’ (pronounced corps-eye) sounds more appropriate. Who do you write to get a word changed?

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4 Comments

  1. Write to the Oxford Dictionary people… they can change words (at least in the dictionary)… or find the people that invented grammar.. maybe the “Latin people” would be able to accept that the plural of corpse is corpsi… another option would be to have just one form of the word.. one corpse, two corpse, three corpse, a load of a bunch of corpse… Just leave as it is.. yeps.. that’s the way to go.. So find the people that do the grammar thing – that’s who you should be looking for!
    :-)

    Reply
  2. Yes!
    I will write immediately to Mr Oxford, Mr Collins, Mr Chambers, Mr Cambridge and Mr Webster and any I have missed.
    And I will also write to Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus and Julius Caesar and Hadrian but I will not write to Nero or Caligula because they will be too busy fiddling and fornicating to bother with words.
    Thank you!

    Reply
  3. I have a simple rule; Never get into a situation where you are using the plural of corpse in an offhand, descriptive, or business-like tone.
    OK, it isn’t really a rule… more of a guideline.

    Reply

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