THE reader must forgive me if I begin with some familiar facts and reflections. Without them my argument would lose some of its effect.
"Oh, father, have you caught any fishes?" exclaims a little urchin as he rushes to the door. "Yes, my boy, but you should say--' Have you caught any fish?'" The boy followed the usual practice; the father disregarded it. Curiously enough, within this same class of objects there are some in speaking of which the practice is recognized, and others in speaking of which it is ignored. In answer to inquiry one fisherman will say to another--"I've got some eels," but he will not say--"I've got some roaches." Familiarity with "sports" appears to encourage these irregularities, for similar ones happen in talk about game-birds. You may say "a brace of pheasants," but you may not say, "a brace of snipes": here the singular must be used. Another instance was a few days ago brought to my notice by the words of a maid who announced the arrival of "two braces of grouse."
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Publication information: Book title: Facts and Comments. Contributors: Herbert Spencer - Author. Publisher: D. Appleton and Company. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1902. Page number: 280.
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