The “Black Angi” Cattle

A few entries ago, I discussed some interesting “neo-classical” plurals I have heard like octopi, ommnibi and apparata. To this one I have to add Angi which is a collective plural for a herd of Black Angus cows (Anguses?).

This is a family term which is “humorous” because we don’t really think it’s an actual learned one, just one made up based on the final -us. But it’s especially interesting because Angus is neither Latin or Greek, but Gaelic. Still there is a “rule” in play which is “expanding” its range. Or, more accurately, the constraint that should rule Angi because it is not in the classical lexicon is fairly weak.

I have to confess that Anguses (the regular plural, like Holsteins and Jerseys) does not sound very acceptable either. There is a tension in my grammar about which form should be used, or maybe the “correct” plural is actually the zero plural Angus (like deer) or only Angus cows. It’s odd when a linguist can’t form a simple plural.

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