Friday, June 01, 2007

one haiku, two haiku.....

Haiku is a Japanese word and in Japanese it remains the same in the plural. It's tempting to judge people's commitment to the form by whether they refer to two haiku or two haikus. I always refer to haiku as haiku in the plural and haikus as a plural annoys me, but as someone who speaks Italian, these also annoy me, yet are accepted without comment:

two pizzas - no! - the plural of pizza is pizze!
two paninis - no! - panini is already plural, panino is the singular!
two cappuccinos - no! the plural of cappuccino is cappuccini!

You get the idea. So why do some poets, who happily probably drink several cappuccinos every week and probably at least a couple of paninis a month, get so upset about anglicising the plural of haiku?

9 comments:

Nia said...

Interesting. I can say, both in English and in Spanish, "I write haiku", and "I write haikus", not because I'm using the Japanese plural but because I see a difference, in my mind between the haiku-form (abstract, and therefore always singular) and the haiku-poem (one haiku, two haikus).

Crafty Green Poet said...

part of me would entirely agree with you there Nia, because that feels right! However, it seems to be general amongst English language haiku poets that the Japanese plural be used. Good point anyway!

daisies said...

i don't think i've ever used 'haikus' actually and tend to say haiku when referring to more than one but i also studied japanese in university so that may have an influence ... 'haikus' sounds really weird to me ... lol

thoughtful post : )

AscenderRisesAbove said...

that is so so funny!

(I am curious... do you have a hard time sometimes knowing which blog to post some of your poetry on; the alter ego or the crafy green poet site... and then now i see a bolt of silk journal; I don't know how you do it!)

Crafty Green Poet said...

Daisies - that's probably the real reason I never say haikus! Cool that you studied Japanese! My sister is fluent and my partner studied it at evening class though he's forgotten a lot of it!

Ascender - Thanks! this type of post is the one where I am most likely to be uncertain whether it should be Crafty Green or Alter Ego! My poems, if they're environmental or about nature go on CGP, anything else is here! There are some books or films that I want to post about that cause me some doubt, but mostly its not too difficult to decide. Bolts of Silk is entirely different, other people send me their poetry to publish.

Inconsequential said...

the abuse of language...

it horrifies and fascinates.

Clockworkchris said...

I am admittidly one of the worst people for following grammer rules, spelling words correctly, and making up my own rules for everything, yet I still say haiku is plural and singular. Those other things may change from language to language, but haiku is what it is. I love to abuse language because I know it pisses off everyone and draws attention which is in my top three most important reasons to live. Both pissing off people and gathering attention. I guess that makes me an ass, but people put up with it because for the most part I am nice and I am okay at writing. This was a wonderful post and very open for comments-loved it.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Chris - for once we agree on something about haiku!

Inconsequential - and it goes on all the time!

AscenderRisesAbove said...

haikuerettes; I am all for creating new words!

btw I blogtipped you today - no need to do anything; just letting you know
http://ascenderrisesabove.com/wordpress/?p=1477