It was a typical March afternoon at Hope College when the fight broke out in the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts lobby last Thursday. What seemed like an innocent debate escalated rapidly, ending with two students wrestling on the floor. The students, whose names have not been released to the public, were taken into custody by Campus Safety. According to onlookers, the altercation arose from a discussion between a handful of music majors over the correct plural form of the word “moose.”
After a few minutes laughing of and debating between themselves, two of the students began to grow heated over whether the correct term was “mooses” or “meese.” Junior Ally Smith, who was involved in the initial debate, remarked that she had not anticipated the interaction getting so out of hand. Smith recalls, “[one student] grew agitated because [the other] did not believe the correct plural form of moose is meese, even though moose rhymes with goose and the plural form of goose is geese.” According to the witness, the other student argued that if the plural form of a word was determined by the plural form of the words it rhymed with, then the plural of ox would be oxes and not oxen, since the plural of box is boxes. The fight was documented by several students who were passing through the lobby and stopped to record the scenario on their mobile phones instead of helping to break the students apart.
It wasn’t until 15 minutes later when one of the custodial staff members happened into the lobby that the students were pulled apart and brought to Campus Safety for a short debriefing. Luckily, the two students have since agreed to disagree on the correct plural form for moose, but for some of us, the question will live on, rolling around in our brains, causing us to question everything we have ever learned about the English language. Should the plural form of a word match with the plural form of a word it rhymes with? We may never know. What are your thoughts? Send us an email or tag us on social media to let us know your thoughts on what the plural form of moose is. Also, try not to get into any fights.