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1 Public Takeover on Oct 25, 2011

This is an enchanting and soothing, though sadly touching, story.

There’s no experience in human life that compares to sharing acquaintance and even affection with another creature—even when they’re of another species.

Thanks.

2 Ever-Fascinated on Oct 26, 2011

I’ve always been fascinated by octopi; where in Seattle can you volunteer to do this?

3 Pete on Oct 26, 2011

Brilliant article. I’ve encountered octopii many times whilst snorkelling or diving and was convinced of their intelligence just by watching their behaviour. I found a pair in shallow water who seemed as curious about me as I was of them, reaching for my tentative hand. Another hiding in a crevice went a ghostly white when I approached and loooked very frightened. Another seemed to show off, clambering and flipping around the top of a rock while me and my fellow snorkellers gather round to watch. It’s sad to learn they don’t live very long.

4 Lee on Oct 26, 2011

Ever-Fascinated - You can volunteer at the Seattle Aquarium - As a new volunteer you will generally be monitoring the touching pool (where visitors can touch anemones, seastars, &etc;) and helping people out with their questions, but during your training you get to learn all about the Octopuses (A plural term which is indeed correct, though Octopi can be used instead) and probably you’ll get to feed them sometimes, my gf did when she volunteered.

5 Megan on Oct 26, 2011

What a magnificent article. I wonder what it’s like to see and feel and taste with your arms. And, the part about different flavors of consciousness—- what a fascinating quote. Thank you so much for writing this article. I will respect octopuses from now on.

6 Henry Barth on Oct 27, 2011

There are three plural forms of octopus: octopuses [ˈɒktəpəsɪz], octopi [ˈɒktəpaɪ], and octopodes [ˌɒkˈtəʊpədiːz]. Currently, octopuses is the most common form in the UK as well as the US; octopodes is rare, and octopi is often objectionable.

The Oxford English Dictionary lists octopuses, octopi and octopodes (in that order); it labels octopodes “rare”, and notes that octopi derives from the mistaken assumption that octōpūs is a second declension Latin noun, which it is not. Rather, it is (Latinized) Ancient Greek, from oktṓpous (ὀκτώπους), gender masculine, whose plural is oktṓpodes (ὀκτώποδες). If the word were native to Latin, it would be octōpēs (‘eight-foot’) and the plural octōpedes, analogous to centipedes and mīllipedes, as the plural form of pēs (‘foot’) is pedes. In modern Greek, it is called khtapódi (χταπόδι), gender neuter, with plural form khtapódia (χταπόδια).

Chambers 21st Century Dictionary and the Compact Oxford Dictionary list only octopuses, although the latter notes that octopodes is “still occasionally used”; the British National Corpus has 29 instances of octopuses, 11 of octopi and 4 of octopodes. Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary lists octopuses and octopi, in that order; Webster’s New World College Dictionary lists octopuses, octopi and octopodes (in that order).

Fowler’s Modern English Usage states that “the only acceptable plural in English is octopuses,” and that octopi is misconceived and octopodes pedantic.

The term octopod (plural octopods or octopodes) is taken from the taxonomic order Octopoda but has no classical equivalent. The collective form octopus is usually reserved for animals consumed for food.

7 John W on Oct 27, 2011

Beautifully written article. Such an incredible creature. Anyone know why their lifespan is so short?

I have had the good fortune to see camouflaged octopus whilst scuba diving a few times (and probably swam part many more without knowing).

8 annie morgan on Oct 27, 2011

Beautifully written article about a beautiful underwater creature. For all my 80 years I have been terrified of ‘things’ in the water, but I’ve loved to watch film of octopuses going their busy ways. Once I visited Monterey, and was thrilled to bits seeing an octopus change colour.

And to Mr Barth may I say how much I enjoyed your most informative comment - Mr Fowler holds a prime spot on my bookshelf. I shall never use the word ‘octopi’ again, even in fun.

Now, will my husband indulge me at Christmas with a gift of the Octopus book?  I hope so.

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