STUDENTS!!!!!!!! sometimes they can drive you nuts

I won’t go into the details of how and why I ended up asking such a ridiculously easy and pointless exam question. I’ll spare you the utter dejection and desperation. Suffice to say that I ended up asking it. In the desperate hope that the soon-to-have-a-BS students had tweaked to my announcement that “if you form the plural of “manus” as “mani” I’ll flunk you outright“, and realised that Latin terms for bones would, despite all their protest that they didn’t have Latin in school, would turn to applied geosciences, didn’t like my [dinosaur] shirt, or hadn’t brought their pencils, form part of the test. A vain hope, as I soon should see.

OK, here’s the question –  I didn’t phrase it like this, but rather gave a table of plurals and singulars of five terms, with one column empty for each. But in the end, it amount to this:

What is the plural of “femur”?

The ~40 students together gave me a choice of 19 different answers. Here they are, in their whole and utter idiocy, laziness and absurd glory (note that this test was in German):

Femures

Femuria

Fema

Femi

Femorales

Femorale

Femur

Femurs

Femuren

Femen

Femura

Femurale

Femuri

Femini

Femurus

Femuli

Femula

Femuris

Femul

DOH!

and in case you didn’t catch this little gem:

not a single one is correct!

(In German, the plural “femurs” is not correct, as the word “femur” was never Germanized).

Even four years later, I feel the need to create bloody key imprints on my forehead  (i.e., headdesk onto laptop).

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Oh, and the plural of “manus” is “manūs”. With a long “u”. Just in case you didn’t know.

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About Heinrich Mallison

I'm a dinosaur biomech guy working at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin.
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10 Responses to STUDENTS!!!!!!!! sometimes they can drive you nuts

  1. No Prize Winner says:

    Do you know how many paleontology papers by ‘professional’ paleontologist get it wrong?

    • I cringe as a reviewer, and correct – was surprised one time when a very smart colleague emailed me “I do not understand your comment”. 😦

      OTOH, Dino Frey bested me on plural of pubis – ouch!

  2. Herman Diaz says:

    What is the correct plural of “femur”? I always thought it was “femurs” or “femora” ( http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/femur?s=t&ld=1086 ). Many thanks in advance.

  3. Julie says:

    <– eye witness

    Heiner… did you mention that the new singular of "phalanges" is phalynx?

  4. Ah, yes, reminds me of the student who wrote on an exam that the squamosal bone was … wait for it … the SQUASHMOSAL bone!

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