AN A-MOOSE-ING POST
A commonly asked grievance I hear is "why isn't the plural of moose the 'word' meese? Unlike goose/geese, moose is a loanword from a Native American Algonquian language, and we kept their phonemic structures for it. Elaborating further already brings us into the realm of linguistic guesswork, because there is few research in non-IE languages. While we know this comes from one of the tribal tongues in the New England area, we're not sure which; many of them have cognates. Moose (which in English itself went through a few variations as mus and moos) may have been from Massachusett mws, Narragansett moos, or Penobscot mos. Yes, those are all languages, and at least we know for sure where they trace from: Proto-Algonquian, where linguists reconstruct the animal word as originally being moswa, or "to strip off", since moose "strip off" bark. This most likely can further be followed to Proto-Algic, but the lines get blurred.
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic. This year, I graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Government and Linguistics. There, I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society and wrote a thesis on Serbo-Croatian language policy, magna cum laude. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.