16 April 2012

Octopus, Octopodes, Octopuses

I'm momentarily suspending my story prompt theme to talk about my inspiration for a story I've already written. This post still contains juicy tidbits of researchy goodness for your interest and edification. 

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A while ago, a call for stories went out from Obsolescent Press for a highly unusual themed anthology. While open to stories of any genre or style, the anthology would be themed around "the most noble and fascinating of marine animals, the octopus."

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I researched them. I learned that the correct pluralization of "octopus" is "octopuses" or "octopodes," not "octopi" or "octopii." I learned that an octopus has nine brains, three hearts, and eyes similar to vertebrate eyes, but better because they lack our blind spot. They are the pinnacle of a line of evolution that separated from ours way, way back. They are smart. They learn from each other, solve puzzles, and remember what they've learned. They're highly adaptive. They are squishy.

I had a blast imagining and entering the mindset of an octopus for the story I wrote in response to the call, so I was tickled pink when it was accepted. Suction Cup Dreams, which will include my story "Three-Hearted," is now in prepress. I'll let you know when it comes out.

14 comments:

Sarah said...

As a classical linguist, I am a firm believer in the plural form "octopi." Octopus is a Latin word, after all, even if it from the Greek. If we would care to use the Greek word to begin with, then the Greek plural is fine. But as we do use the Latin word, we should decline it as the Latin word declines. It's not the only Latinized Greek word. Why you would decide to give Greek endings to a Latin word is beyond me. And there's never really a correct form, just a recommended, and I have to advise against the recommended in this case. (Sorry if it's rant-y, this was a debate in our department last semester, but we settled the matter and all agreed on this.)

Mark K said...

As ever, a good and informative post. I feel I am loosing they will to live with this A-Z malarkey. But I suppose I'll muddle through.

So, going on Sarah's suggestion, I'm thinking the James Bond film should be re-titled 'Octopussi' ;)

Clare said...

Octopuses are such majestic noble animals. I remember being fascinated by them when they were included in the Inside Natures Giants episode about the Giant Squid

Elizabeth Twist said...

No no! I love ranty debates. I in no way wish to pit Wikipedia against your education as a classical linguist, but I am curious about what you think about the side of the argument that posits that "octopus" is not a Latin 2nd declension form, but a Scientific Latin 3rd declension form, whatever the heck any of that means. (Source is here. I really am curious about this if you have any insight.)

Elizabeth Twist said...

p.s. that is a pro-"octopodes" argument.

Elizabeth Twist said...

We are more than halfway through. The light is at the end of the tunnel and whatnot.

Elizabeth Twist said...

They really are pretty cool, Clare. You might like Suction Cup Dreams. It will probably be a trippy bunch of stories.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I've always been fascinated by the octopus. Thanks for sharing the info. And congratulations on your story acceptance! :)

Happy A-Z!

Elizabeth Twist said...

Thanks, Madeline! I'm really excited about the anthology.

Lauren S. said...

Octopode... I'll have to remember that! :)

Jocelyn Rish said...

Congrats on your story being accepted! Hooray! And to such an offbeat anthology theme.

More great facts! Although I now feel guilty about that one time I ate one of those baby octopuses at a Chinese buffet. :-(

Traci Kenworth said...

Such a terrifying creature, and yet--so fascinating.

Pammy Pam said...

what could we do if we each had NINE brains??

Deborah Walker said...

Yipeee!

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