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CrashBandioof420 t1_ja6yjjf wrote

The word "human" comes from Middle French "humain". Foreign words in English usually get their plural by adding s at the end. The word "man" comes from Old English "mann" and the plural of mann was menn. Some of Old English's plural system carried over to modern English, and thus we have
man -> men


Inj4ll t1_ja7c0ly wrote

I confirm that in french adding a s for plural is the default rule.


philliamswinequeen t1_jabm3od wrote

Someone tell me how that makes sense coz verbally they usually don’t add an ‘s’ sound. idk french has such obscure pronunciation rules T_T… is French mostly based on writing??


Inj4ll t1_jaboomc wrote

In english there only a few deterministic words: "the, thoses, these..."

In french there is a lot more.


I eat the banana / I eat bananas

Je mange la banane / Je mange des bananes

We don't hear the s at the end but the word "des" specify it's plural verbally.

It can also be "je mange les bananes"

Using "des" is to talk about some random bananas. Using "les" is to talk about specific bananas in the context of the conversation


ScarTheGoth t1_ja8spuc wrote

Also the word humen just looks off. It’s also pronounced so similar to human that when saying it quickly you’d barely notice the difference.


uhlevar t1_ja9k054 wrote

All words look off if you are used to something else


PoopIsAlwaysSunny t1_ja9tfnl wrote

I think pronunciation is a big part of this. We can look at etymology, but language is a living thing. If “human” were pronounced like “man” we’d probably have “humen”, but it’s not, so humans makes more sense


Mixt-meta4z-1463 t1_ja7qfxt wrote

Are you actually a philologist?

If so, you should require remuneration for articulating this explication.

Ok, smarty pants, if more than one ox is 'oxen' then why is more than one ax not 'axen'?


Tuxxbob t1_ja8jx2u wrote

Because "axe" comes from the French "hache" and thus follows the "s" pluralization rule.


ScarTheGoth t1_ja8st4o wrote

I’m glad I did not take French. No hate at all, but I’ve heard it can be difficult.


BopBopBich t1_ja90vn9 wrote

I am haunted by vowels… you always think there’s enough, but there never are


CharsOwnRX-78-2 t1_ja9zg56 wrote

Writing French: needs more vowels. No, more. More than that.


Speaking French: lmao you want me to pronounce all that shit? Get the fuck out of here


_Ispeakingifs t1_ja9xy4e wrote

Because english is just a bunch of other languages in a trench coat


Tanliarian t1_ja7zjgo wrote

Human, woman, and man have different source words, rendering this argument specious and nonsensical.


Inj4ll t1_ja7cha4 wrote

Human is borrowed from french "humain" which come from latin "humanus". "Hum" is derivated from "homo" (man) and "anus" mean "origin of something".

English have A LOT of latin originated words that were borrowed from french.


Gongaloon t1_ja97drb wrote

hum anus, whistle anus, khoomei anus, i don't care, it's whatever you're into


whyvswhynot12089 t1_ja6tgy8 wrote

Humen and human sound almost identical. Not good for auditory speech. Especially considering different accents....


AxialGem t1_ja6vmqj wrote

Sheep and sheep are identical. Other compounds with man do get a vowel change, such as barman~barmen, policeman~policemen etc

Of course human is not etymologically a compound of hu+man but still


whyvswhynot12089 t1_ja6x8tr wrote

Those words aren't exactly a beacon of clarity either...but I see more problems happening with the word "human"....because it's not just a noun. Words like "Sheep" and "barman" are just nouns, so it's easy enough to just add an article to clarify the difference, between plural and singular.

Example sentence: "If it was human/humen."

If you're just listening and the person has an accent or lacks perfect diction....It's impossible to tell if they're talking about the quality of being human or "humans" plural.


CrashBandioof420 t1_ja6yhp1 wrote

That's not why the word "human" doesn't have a vowel-changing plural though. The word "human" comes from Middle French "humain". Loan words in English usually get their plural by adding s at the end. The word "man" comes from Old English "mann" and the plural of mann was menn. Some of Old English's plural system carried over to modern English, and thus we have

man -> men


whyvswhynot12089 t1_ja70xz3 wrote

I wasn't claiming the etymology of the word lol. Just why human/humen wouldn't work practically. That being said, human didn't start with the french word "humain". It started with the latin "homo" and then the latin "humanis"....That french word "humain" showed up around 300 years later.


whyvswhynot12089 t1_ja74ixi wrote

I know most plural french words include an S on the end and Normandy invaded England, which contributed to middle English taking up some Middle French words...but are you sure other loan languages use an "s" for plural?

(I'm really don't know/am genuinely asking. )


AxialGem t1_ja700qh wrote

Exactly! By the time the word human entered the language, the process that led to the vowel change in man~men was already long dead. Same with geese but not (usually) *meese


AxialGem t1_ja6zqam wrote

Sure, that's an interesting way to look at it. Of course, ambiguity does in fact exist in many places in the language, and not all cases prompt us to make distinctions to clear it up. Case in point: almost all regular plurals can be confused with possessives: "It was my cats/cat's."

Maybe that's a factor, but the biggest thing of course is that the word human was never in a position to have a vowel change in the plural. The reason why the vowel doesn't change is a historical and etymological one, the same reason why the common plural of moose isn't meese (despite goose~geese). If it did have a vowel change today, it would have had to have been formed later by analogy, and what you said may contribute to that not having happened imo


whyvswhynot12089 t1_ja75hd0 wrote

Well of course the languages a word is based on are going to affect the spelling. I understand etymology is a thing lol. That just seems like a really obvious answer for anyone posting about English in this subreddit.

If Normandy hadn't invaded England, we would have likely taken "human" from the older latin word "humanis".


AxialGem t1_ja76xm6 wrote

>we would have likely taken "human" from the older latin word "humanis".

Possibly. My point is that a loan word tends to adopt the grammar of the language it's adoped into at the time it was adoped.


If you make some popcorn in a pan, then turn off the heat and add more kernels, the new ones aren't going to be popped. Because the condition which caused the popping has already stopped. Similarly, new loanwords by default aren't affected by a process that has already stopped.


whyvswhynot12089 t1_ja92jjy wrote

I got your point the first time. I just think history is a lot more variable than heat in a pan. Loan words don't always stop evolving at their point of origin circumstances.


ExitSweaty4959 t1_ja99l5p wrote

You gotta pronounce it irregularly too to keep the crazy going. I suggest it be read like hue-man


freddy_guy t1_ja8is5h wrote

It any sub ever needed to learn a particular thing, it's this sub and it needs to fucking learn how language works.


The_Star_Bringer_527 t1_ja8pjb5 wrote


Most of the people here still use "they" "them" "they're" "their" and "there" incorrectly to such an extent that the posts lose all form of seriousness or discussion


Muscalp t1_ja9fw0s wrote

Don‘t stand in the way of language changing. You will lose.


The_Star_Bringer_527 t1_ja9whh1 wrote

It's not language changing

It's just people using it wrong


Muscalp t1_jabk4q0 wrote

It is language changing. They‘re and there sound so similar people start confusing the two so often they become interchangable. Eventually it will become one word. Just like people mixed humain and man and made human. Being stingy about grammar will not stop that development. All change in language started with a grammatical or semantic error.


The_Star_Bringer_527 t1_jabqeww wrote

But it's not going to work in the end

I get your point about how language changes through misuse,yes

But this is just not one of those. Many reasons contribute to this

Most notably the fact that the definitions are very well cemented and established. Also for the fact that a lot of confusion can occur in certain scenarios


Muscalp t1_jabume0 wrote

I don‘t think there is much potential for confusion. The fact that you can easily spot wrong usage of the words even if they‘re used explicitely against definition proves that they can be distinguished based on context alone. Although I‘d be happy to see a scenario where confusion arises.

You are right though that established definitions and rules might influence the Development. Back when people had no school and no one to tell them how language was supposed to work they probably were way more accepting of other ways to use language. On the other hand, in my mother language I saw wrong grammar being established as the Norm within my lifetime (which is not much) and the teaching changing accordingly. So I‘m not convinced that established rules really have any control.


The_Star_Bringer_527 t1_jabyfjl wrote

If you spot it as wrong,then it's not going to adapt


Muscalp t1_jabzcnv wrote

Yet people are using it wrong and don‘t care if it‘s wrong. Here the languages could diverge or the majority overrides the minority.


The_Star_Bringer_527 t1_jaclrk0 wrote

People do care,just not the ones doing it wrong

After all we're still having this discussion

Thus we care and that's what makes language and it's faults beautiful


hurdygurdy21 t1_ja65w3s wrote

Have you met the English language? Logic doesn't apply a lot of the time.


AxialGem t1_ja6v5uz wrote

There is a perfectly logical historical explanation for this tho, it's just that most people don't know it lol


The_Star_Bringer_527 t1_ja8p09s wrote

It's not more logical at all

Instead of using basic rules of language focus on the word's origin instead


stonka_truck t1_ja6rekp wrote

Yea but then someone's gonna lose their shit because it says "mens" at the end if it.


Mixt-meta4z-1463 t1_ja7r7qp wrote

It could just be missing the apostrophe...

Just a punctuation error, just saying...


ElliElephant t1_ja72jny wrote

“man” is much older than that. It comes from the Proto-Indo-European word for hand. Which is evident in words like “manual” “manicure” and so on.

You can almost imagine these people naming themselves “hands” because nothing else around has them


AxialGem t1_ja74he9 wrote

I haven't heard anyone claim that man comes from the word for 'hand?' In fact, I'm not sure what that PIE root for 'hand' is tbh

Of course, the origin of the word human might also go back to PIE, but it's a later addition to English, yea


ElliElephant t1_ja74yy5 wrote

This is a good resource

“*man- (2) Proto-Indo-European root meaning "hand." It forms all or part of: amanuensis; command; commando; commend; countermand; demand; Edmund; emancipate; legerdemain; maintain; manacle; manage; manciple; mandamus; mandate; manege; maneuver; manicure; manifest; manipulation; manner; manque; mansuetude; manual; manubrium; manufacture; manumission; manumit; manure; manuscript; mastiff; Maundy Thursday; mortmain; Raymond; recommend; remand; Sigismund.”


AxialGem t1_ja75r6q wrote

Huh, yea that is a good resource!
I guess I just went on a journey on wiktionary, which told me that the origin of latin manus was disputed, although possibly connected. That's why I asked, so I also didn't arrive at the same root for them both.
I'm not actually a historical linguist, so I couldn't tell any more about it, but etymonline is generally pretty good afaik


ElliElephant t1_ja76dkr wrote

Yeah etymon line is great for getting lost in rabbit holes

They generally do a good job of noting when something is speculative or debated


Joshonthecusp t1_ja984ek wrote

Kind of unrelated but this just reminded me that I detest when someone uses "women" as singular. Boils my blood, I'm not sure why.


Vanquisher1000 t1_ja9rgtl wrote

It's annoying to see because it's such a simple thing. I've noticed it as well - people type 'women' when they clearly meant 'woman,' and vice versa. Oddly, this doesn't seem to happen very often for man/men.


Showerthoughts_Mod t1_ja65bfs wrote

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Remember, /r/Showerthoughts is for showerthoughts, not "thoughts had in the shower!"

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Rule-breaking posts may result in bans.


Tight-Lingonberry941 t1_ja8yv98 wrote

I've also thought this about the word "moose". Shouldn't multiple moose be called meese if more than one goose is geese?


Capnreid t1_ja98xaj wrote

Its also English and the more you try to make sense of it the more you realize you are wasting your time


Zelman12 t1_ja9g3xs wrote

for the longest time I thought it was always Person (singular) People (plural) then someone had to go throw persons into the mix...


S1rmunchalot t1_ja9jepj wrote

That might be true if every word in the English language had a common root. The original word for woman is wifmann, because 'mann' is not originally Latin it's proto-Germanic. The word human comes from the Latin word “humus,” meaning earth or ground.


vid_23 t1_jaa0bkk wrote

I'm convinced people use this like it's Google or something. Just post something stupid you're not sure about and people will correct you and tell you why you're wrong with an essay on it


Mixt-meta4z-1463 t1_ja7rpt6 wrote

This is bordering on angering a lot of "-ist" groups.

I'm just gonna leave it here exit stage left, er I mean right, um I mean "beam me up Scotty"