Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 21st, 2006
Please avoid letting me hear “Sasquatches” too!
No, no, no “Bigfeet” allowed in here.
Some nouns, particularly the names of animals and fish, have the same form in singular and plural. Historically and grammatically correct is the word “Bigfoot” for singular and plural, just as “sheep” means one sheep and two or more sheep.
There are a number of animals that have the same singular and plural form, for example:
antelope – antelope
buffalo – buffalo
bison – bison
mink – mink
otter – otter
bass – bass
deer – deer
moose – moose
swine – swine
pike – pike
trout – trout
goldfish – goldfish
species – species
sheep – sheep
The singular and plural use of “fish – fish” is tricky, however. If you have one type of fish, you have many fish in a school, a bowl, or a pond, for example. If you have a tank full of a variety of species of fish, you have an aquarium full of several fishes.
Within cryptozoology, North American hominoid cryptids typically follow the same irregular plural rule as the above animal words, including:
Bigfoot – Bigfoot
Sasquatch – Sasquatch
Momo – Momo
There are other cryptid names that also follow this pattern, such as:
Mothman – Mothman
Nessie – Nessie
Cassie – Cassie
Tessie – Tessie
Champ – Champ
You can usually immediately tell the articles and books that are written by those people who are unfamiliar with the field of cryptozoology, Bigfoot studies, hominology, and Sasquatch pursuit by their use of such incorrect and uncomfortable plural forms such as “Bigfoots,” “Bigfeet,” “Bigfeets,” “Sasquatches,” and “Big Feet.” All are incorrect, based on common grammatical usage and practice in our field, which follows rules as with the above irregular plural forms, often seen applied to animals.
Plural forms, nevertheless, do follow other common usage rules among some cryptids, for example, singular – plural
Yeti – Yeti or Yetis
Abominable Snowman – Abominable Snowmen or Abominable Snowpeople
Loch Ness Monster – Loch Ness Monster or Loch Ness Monsters
The conforming of practice as applied by native speakers is evolving when its translation into common English usage may be in flux. For example, while one Yowie may be seen, it is fairly common to talk about two or more Yowies. However, presently, use of the plural from of Yeren is still confusing. Is more than one Chinese Wildman called two or more Yeren or two or more Yerens? Thusfar, the preferred form has been without the “s” as in, “He was hot on the track of the three Yeren seen down by the stream.”
The International Society of Cryptozoology established a “manual of style” for the use of capitalization among cryptids, by the way, which I have been using and reproducing in my books, for years. Even though the ISC is defunct, the style lives on and continues in practice.
Here is what I have written on this subject in my books, combining below what I have written on various cryptids:
The style of this work and the use of capitalization for the undiscovered cryptids under discussion (e.g., Bigfoot, Yeti, Loch Ness Monster, Ogopogo, Nahuelito, Bunyip), follows the “manual of style” that was adopted by the International Society of Cryptozoology’s editor, Richard Greenwell, and the ISC scientific peer-reviewed journal, Cryptozoology. Greenwell details the proper capitalization of the cryptozoological names, before and after discovery, in a footnote in Cryptozoology, Vol. 5 (1986), page 101. His formalization of this matter is furthermore based on what occurs in systematic zoology, firm ground indeed.
Greenwell is very clear in his example:
Native name: okapi;
Western name for presumed, undiscovered animal: Okapi;
Common name after discovery and acceptance: okapi.
For our extended use, this translates into:
Native name: yet-teh or yeti;
Western name for presumed, undiscovered animal: Yeti;
Common name after discovery and acceptance: yeti.
Native name: oh-mah,.
Western name for presumed, undiscovered animal: Bigfoot;
Common name after discovery and acceptance: bigfoot.
Native name: nahuelito;
Western name for presumed, undiscovered animal: Nahuelito;
Common name after discovery and acceptance: nahuelito.
Native name: naitaka;
Western name for presumed, undiscovered animal: Ogopogo;
Common name after discovery and acceptance: ogopogo.
Therefore, as Lake Monster, Sea Serpent, Nessie, Bigfoot, Yeti, and related forms all have not been technically “accepted” by systematic zoology, as of this date, the capitalized form will be employed.
In terms of the plural form of the above words and the capitalization of cryptid names, I follow these rules in a strict fashion to give a common application of this rule to my written work.
So if you hear or read of someone saying “Bigfeet,” you know they probably don’t know what they are talking about in terms of Sasquatch and other matters of cryptozoology.
Thanks to Doug Tarrant of Virginia City, Nevada, for asking the question that inspired me to write what my understanding is on this subject.