I was at Office Depot the other day and felt like a fool for asking them where there "mice" were, as in a mouse for a computer. Is there a way to pluralize this, or should it just be left in the singular form? What if your computer has two mice? or mouses? How would you refer to them? If Office Depot was to have a sign displaying their mice/mouses, what would be the proper way to do so?
-- Desperately Seeking Stuart, the net
An unresolved issue, Des. You've got your "mice" faction and your "mouses" faction, but so far, I don't think the dispute has caused any good fistfights. English-language usage guru Brian Garner figures that the plural of the computer mouse will eventually find its own level; one word will begin to be used more often, for whatever reason, and the other will disappear. He primes the oblivion pump by declaring "mice" to be a bad choice. Wired magazine's style guide for tech writers also prefers "mouses," though they admit they hate rules, so take that one for what it's worth. According to an article in New Scientist mag, written by a hard-core dweller in the info-tech domain, Geekworld prefers "mouses" and considers "mice" a dead giveaway that you're not a techie insider. Two journalistic sources (The New York Times style guide and Copy Editor magazine), naturally, say "mice" is correct. Which explains why editors and technical people will never agree on anything. Microsoft, too, has weighed in on the debate. "Avoid the plural" is their typically cagey advice to staffers; but if you can't, they say, use "mouse devices." As for your average computer-gear retailer -- yeah, like they really care about grammar and usage. As long as your check doesn't bounce, they'll let you call them anything you want.