SOS to the Rescue—Salphy Torque SpecGram Vol CLXXXVII, No 4 Contents Οо Εе, Оο Аa Αa—Α Сrурtοgrаm—Ting Tang, Walla Walla, & Bing Bang

The SpecGram Linguistic Advice Collective

Are you in a world of linguistic hurt? The SpecGram Linguistic Advice Collective (SLAC) will offer you empirical, empathic, emphatic advice you can use!*

Remember, if you can tell the difference between good advice and bad advice, then you don’t need advice! So, if you need advice, trust usand cut yourself some SLAC!


Your Royal SLACness,

Since you have previously offered such useful advice on English plurals, I have a query of my own: what is the plural of haggis? Having recently relocated to the land of tartan and bagpipes, I would find it quite useful to know.

And speaking of which, where can I find one of those “wild haggis” things the locals keep telling me about?

—Bewildered Ness

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Dear Noun-forming-affix Monster,

Haggis is a strong(-smelling) noun, so therefore it takes an irregular plural. If someone claims to have seen more than one wild haggis, the word for that is hogwash.

—SLAC Unit #456d696c79

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Dear Wildness,

Haggis originally was haggies, the plural diminutive of a shortened form of hagfish. These super-cute creatures mostly feed on dead fish, but in the lochs of Scotland they also commonly feast on floating carcasses of deceased livestock, some of whose internal organs, when consumed as food, have become associated with the charming critters. Thus, haggis is etymologically a plural, and admits no additional pluralizing morphology, even if you encounter more than one serving of it.

—SLAC Unit #4b65697468

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Hoots Nessie,

Ah’m a proper Scotsman and in mah kilt, ah c’n gie ye a haun wi’ yon question. The plural o’ haggis? Och, laddie, it’s breakfast.

Yours halfway up the Great Glen,
—SLAC Unit #4a6f6e617468616e

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Found in Haggipedia:

The plural of haggis is hagi. They are known for their tendency to regift items for birthday and holiday presents. Such items are commonly called The Gift of the Hagi. They are notoriously cheap and try to bring down the price of any item they desire. This is called haggling. Common lore is that they once were a matriarchal society with the leaders called hags whose stories were written down in books called hagiographies.

—SLAC Unit #4a6f65

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Dear Braveheart,

Haggis is originally a loanword into Scottish Gaelic from Greek. Greek settlement of Hibernia in the 3rd century BCE has left virtually no imprint on the history of the area, other than this word and the large parthenon at John O’Groats. Due to its frequency of usage, the word has retained its originally phonetic form, which in Attic was of course ἇγγις (and don’t forget that double-γ is [ŋ]!) which goes like πόλις. The plural (nominative) is therefore ἅγγεις as in “I’d love five hangeis please, Macdougal, for ma wife and bairns back in the croft, och aye the noo,” or, more famously, “You can take our lives but you’ll never take our hangeis!”

—SLAC Unit #4465616b

P.S.: Not untangentially, look out for the third in the acclaimed Margaret Atwood series which paints a bleak but thought-provoking portrait of a dystopian highlands ovine innards community under a brutally theocratic regime. It is provisionally entitled The Hangeis’ Tale.

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Dear Ness,

Haggis is from the Latin hagis, hagidis “innards”. Also used as an adjective, meaning “revolting”.

—SLAC Unit #4d61726b

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Somebody (rhymes with “ACK Slunit #4a6f6e617468616e”) has an unfair advantage.

—SLAC Unit #4b65697468

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Yeah, but he also has to eat haggis, so it all balances out.

—SLAC Unit #4d696b61656c

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Being a Scot is indeed an unfair advantage. But it’s one I’ll humbly carry. Also, haggis is lovely. At least we don’t eat “grits” (what even is that? We use grit to make roads less slippery.) Also, biscuits and gravy? Who in their right mind would dunk a custard cream in Bisto? That is as odd as using a microwave to make tea.

—SLAC Unit #4a6f6e617468616e

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Dear Bewildered Mess,

Haggis has no plural. Why on earth would anyone want more than one of them?

—SLAC Unit #50657465

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Dear Aunt Bee,

The plural is haggadah, which has also come to mean the text for the only occasion on which one might need more than one haggis. The origins of this tradition are as confused as the people who started it after possibly taking a wrong turn on their way out of Egypt. The Scottish haggadah is unique in a number of ways, such as not having a question about why they eat vegetables every other night. Theologian Robert Burns’s theory that the Scottish haggadah was based on a meal eaten by King David was later memorialized in the song In Haggadah Davida by Irn-Buttrfly.

—SLAC Unit #56696e63656e74

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Dear Lady of the Loch,

The correct plural of hagg— ahem. The plural of haggi— hmmm. The plural of ha—... of hagg—... of haggis....... /βːː βː ʛɑ̰̙ːːʀʁːːːkʼ/

< clean up on aisle 4! >

—SLAC Unit #54726579

* Advice is not guaranteed to be useful, practical, or even possible. Do not attempt at home. Consult a doctor (of linguistics, philology, orin a pinchanthropology) before undertaking any course of treatment. This advice is not intended to cure or treat any disease or condition, inherent or contingent. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental, except when it is not. “Empirical” means that we asked at least two other “people” whether our advice was good; one or more of those “people” may be voices in our own heads. “Emphatic” means that you may print out a copy of the advice for personal use in a medium, semi-bold, bold, heavy, black, or ultra-black weight of an italic or oblique typeface using an enlarged font size. “Empathic” means that deep down, in the darkest recesses of our blackest heart of hearts, we really, really care ♥just not necessarily about you.

SOS to the RescueSalphy Torque
Οо Εе, Оο Аa ΑaΑ СrурtοgrаmTing Tang, Walla Walla, & Bing Bang
SpecGram Vol CLXXXVII, No 4 Contents