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Bigfoot, Not Bigfeet – Continued

Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 24th, 2006

Roger Knights, the intellectually-aware Bigfoot correspondent to many, has followed a comment to my original “Bigfoot, Not Bigfeet” posting that deserves to be addressed separately, with room for more comments, here. He writes:

The Bords were as knowledgeable as anyone, and they used “Bigfeet” as the plural in their Casebook, and retained that usage in the version republished last year. (E.g., in the title of Ch. 7, on p. 121.)…A much better indication of a natural (unaffected) plural is the case of the Blackfoot tribe of Indians. The natural tendency of English-speakers is to refer to a group of them as Blackfeet. (Including you, hypocrite lecteur.) I Googled and found, near the top of the list, an informational website that regularly used phrases like, “The Blackfeet used dogs to drag travois,” etc. If Blackfoot/Blackfeet, then Bigfoot/Bigfeet.

Insistence on avoiding a plural form that comes naturally to the English-speaking population is what might lead them into the error of thinking that only one of the critter exists.

End of Knight’s comment.

Nothing comes so naturally to humans as an examination of their own being.

Humm, hypocrite lecteur = hypocrite reader? LOL

Wallace Casts

Okay, thusfar we have Ivan T. Sanderson, from Scotland, cleverly using “Bigfeet” as the chapter title (“The Appearance of Bigfeet”) in his 1961 book, and the Bords, like Sanderson, also from the U.K. (Wales), copycating him by using “Bigfeet” as a chapter title (“Phantom Bigfeet…”) in their 1982 book, and yes, now their 2005 reprint, Bigfoot Casebook Updated. (BTW, in the modern scanning-based publication of out-of-print Bigfoot books, it is more trouble than it is worth, financially, to change words like “Bigfeet” found embedded in the text of old volumes being reprinted.)

I’m North American (and even a bit Native American), and frankly, “Bigfeet” sounds too strange for my ears and won’t be coming out of my pen, unless I am convinced by more compelling arguments. I’m not yet so inclined, to date, by anything I’ve heard.

The Blackfoot/Blackfeet debating point, for example, does not fly. The precedent of the Blackfoot and Blackfeet cannot be used to justify the use of “Bigfeet” for more than one Bigfoot.

Blackfeet and Blackfoot are two names for different groups of Indians. The southernmost group of the Blackfoot Confederacy are technically called the “Blackfeet” and are the “Piegans” or “Pikuni” branch of these Natives, located in western Montana.

The recent posting at Cryptomundo about “Blackfeet Bigfoot,” for example, are about these group’s Montana sightings. The Pikuni are always referred to by the use of the seemingly plural form “Blackfeet.”

Meanwhile, the two other branches of the Blackfoot Confederacy are the “Siksika” and the “Kainah” (or “Blood”) and these residents of Canada are always referred to by the use of the visually and seemingly singular term “Blackfoot.” Thus you actually have two different groups of the Blackfoot Confederacy up north calling themselves “Blackfoot,” alone or in multiple situations.

Therefore, many Blackfoot are not always Blackfeet. It depends on where they live. In Montana, one individual in the Pikuna group is a Blackfeet. In Canada, a group of Siksika are Blackfoot.

Sorry, but I feel Roger Knights is confusing the names that people have given to themselves, as Native Americans and Native Canadians, which are their preferred names, and tried to apply it to our cryptid name-discussion here. But it is apples and oranges.

However, I tend to agree wholeheartedly with something that Roger Knights said earlier in this discussion, elsewhere: “I think violating the usage established for ‘foot/feet’ serves mainly as a sort of marker or ‘shibboleth’ of insider-hood at present.”

Or as I mentioned too, as Michael Taylor, San Francisco Chronicle staff writer, wrote in 1999: “Cognoscenti rarely use the plural ‘Bigfeet’.”

I’ll still go that calling more than one Bigfoot with the silly-sounding name “Bigfeet” clues me into people that are not close to our field of study, in more ways than one.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


14 Responses to “Bigfoot, Not Bigfeet – Continued”

  1. ZenBug responds:

    @Roger; post #20, in the first thread of this discussion…

    I was more responding to your claim about the Maple Leafs/Leaves. As far as Bigfeet and Blackfeet are concerned, I’m less convinced of the grammatical rules than of my own feelings about what sounds right, so if you prefer to say bigfeet, be my guest. But it’s definitely Leafs and Lightfoots…And if I ever write the great Canadian novel, that’ll be my title.

  2. Roger Knights responds:

    Regarding the Bords: In their revised edition they added two chapters, the first of which uses “Bigfeet” (p. 181). They could easily have chosen to avoid that word if they had had second thoughts about their original choice.

    lecteur does mean “reader.” It’s from a famous quote by Budelaire or Flaubert or one of those cats, or such is my recollection, and it follows up the accusation by saying “myself, my brother,” including the author in the condemnation.

    I’ve looked in my rhyming dictionary for words ending in -foot. Then I’ve looked up their plurals in the Random House Dictionary and found that there are three words that use both forms as plurals, three that use “feet” exclusively and four that use “foots” exclusively. However, you’ve never heard of three of the four words that pluralize as “foots,” but the three words that use “feet” are well-known. Therefore, the average American will tend to think of “Bigfeet” as the natural plural, a desire we shouldn’t discourage by telling him he’s Wrong and Out-Of-It. Here’s the scorecard:

    3 total–Plural can be either foot or feet (depending on the meaning of the word in the first two cases): flatfoot (cops are flatfoots (?)), crowfoot, tenderfoot.

    3 total–Plural is “feet”: Blackfeet, forefeet, clubfeet.

    4 total–Plural is “foots”: finfoots, coltsfoots, goosefoots, spadefoots.

    6 total–Plural not indicated in dictionary: Bigfoot (capitalized in the dictionary FWIW), fanfoot, cocksfoot, lobfoot, outfoot, padfoot.

    I’m glad I phrased my claim cautiously in the lead-in thread to this one, by saying that “it’s not an open-and-shut case” that “Bigfeet” is Wrong. I think a Reasonable Man (Hello? Helllooo?) would conclude from the usage pattern I’ve described that both forms should be considered acceptable.

    PS: Although some tribes may prefer to call themselves The Bigfoot (when considered as a tribe), most members most of the time would likely use the phrase, “four Blackfeet were at the table” when speaking of several individuals. Or at least they wouldn’t think it wrong to do so. Here’s a sentence supporting that view that I found on the first site I consulted after Googling for “Blackfoot”:

    “This name is a translation of the word “siksika,” which means “black foot.” Probably it is referring to the dark color moccasins worn by the people. Some Blackfoot people are annoyed by the plural “Blackfeet,” which is obviously an anglicization; however, most use the two words interchangeably.”

  3. Loren Coleman responds:

    Regarding the Bords, yes, they are British, er, Welsh. Point made, as noted above. They might be expected to use “Bigfeet” again. There is a growing linguistic gap between those folks from the old country and North Americans.

    Regarding the Blackfoot/Blackfeet business, I stand by what I wrote above, about apples and oranges. The “Siksika” branch desire to be called Blackfoot, no matter what you might wish to call them. I respect other Native peoples and what they want to be called. In Montana, the Natives wish to be known as the Blackfeet.

    Bigfoot/Bigfeet, of course, can both be used by insiders and outsiders. Nevertheless, anyone that says “Bigfeet” to me….

    Enuf said.

  4. Jos Gagné responds:

    Meh, I find there’s a valid argument for bigfeet if you do want to use blackfeet as a linguistic antecedent. I find bigfeet equally strange, but I will admit a lot less weird than when I first started my interest in cz. As for “hypocrite lecteur”, unless written in poetic prose as someone had suggested, it should rather be “lecteur hypocrite” when saying straight out : hypocritic reader.
    Man, and I thought I was done with grammer and linguistic classes for the summer ;)
    -Jos Gagné

  5. Chymo responds:

    I’ve always seen ‘Bigfoot’ as a colloquial term. I’ve always used ‘Sasquatch’ as a more serious name for the whole North American sightings, irrespective of whether they’re really the same species or not. This is just a preference. The name ‘Sasquatch’ has gravitas, & if ever the animal is proven to exist, I hope that that becomes the recognised name for them.

    Bigfoot is just as specific to NApes, but it just doesn’t sound like a good name. Too silly :D

    That’s just my taste. I’ve been reading cryptozoological material & Forteana since I was about 7 or 8, so I must have picked this usage up from the generality. The Bords are great, I have a few of their books, but no one is going by a British researcher as an expert on Mr Napes, most people would look to researchers like Loren who have been ‘on site’ more often, to define accurate terms.

    I will make this bet, I will live to see the day when anthropologists consult with Mr. Coleman to determine the correct scientific name for the North American Bipedal Ape.

  6. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    comment #2 Roger Knight says:
    “3 total–Plural can be either foot or feet (depending on the meaning of the word in the first two cases): flatfoot (cops are flatfoots (?)), crowfoot, tenderfoot.

    3 total–Plural is “feet”: Blackfeet, forefeet, clubfeet.

    4 total–Plural is “foots”: finfoots, coltsfoots, goosefoots, spadefoots.

    6 total–Plural not indicated in dictionary: Bigfoot (capitalized in the dictionary FWIW), fanfoot, cocksfoot, lobfoot, outfoot, padfoot.”

    So thanks for all the “foot” words
    But, on these “foot/feet” words, let’s just do some more break-down.

    Flatfoot and Tenderfoot are from slang.

    Crowfoot, when referring to a type of plant, is pluarlized “foots” but when referring to a medeival weapon or a nautical term for stitching awning, is called crowfeet.

    With the three pluralized “feet” fore feet is actually two words to pluralize the singular forefoot (front foot of a quadruped), clubfeet is the plural of clubfoot, a congenital disorder, and Blackfeet, well that one has already been dealt with ad nauseum.

    The “foots” pluaralization for plants continues with coltsfoot, and goosefoot and expands to animals with finfoot and spadefoot (a bird and a toad respectively)

    By this standard, the plural of Bigfoot would be “Bigfoots” which, as noted, just feels awkward.

    So let us look at the non-specified, where the plural and singular form can, apparently, be the same or have an s added or what have you (hey, there is no rule). Here, in addition to “Bigfoot”, we see you list fanfoot, both a type of gecko and a genus of moth, cocksfoot, a plant, lobfoot I could not find, but LOBEfoot, which I did find, is a bird with lobate toes, outfoot, which means to outrun or outwalk (go faster than), and finally padfoot, which I could not find in my dictionary, but as any 12 year old can tell you, is a nickname for Sirius Black in the Harry Potter books, used in reference to his padded wolf feet.

    So, looking at this, it seems to trend for plants and animals is to use either “foot” as both plural and singular, or to pluralize creatures as “foots”. “Feet” is more often used in informal or electoral usage (i.e. flatfeet/flatfoots, Blackfeet/Blackfoot) or when actually referencing the limbs (fore feet, clubfeet).
    From this list, I would say that, when/if the animal is identified, the proper name for a group of the creatures would be either “bigfoot” (i.e. a family of bigfoot) or the more awkward, but not without precedent, “bigfoots”.
    Therefore it would be proper to say “All bigfoot have big feet.” Or to follow the finfoot/spadefoot model and say “All bigfoots have big feet.”
    But it is not acceptable in standard North American usage to say “All bigfeet have big feet.”

  7. youcantryreachingme responds:

    “More on the issue of what cryptid names people use, inside and outside, our field” (post summary on homepage) …..

    Goody, goody, I’ve been waiting to ask the question:

    “What constitutes being ‘inside’ the field as opposed to ‘outside’?” I mean, I haven’t seen a “Bachelor of Science (Cryptozoology)” anywhere!

  8. WVBotanist responds:

    I wonder if this whole line of discussion, while interesting, is a bit like arguing the finer nuances of Klingon while waiting for the SETI monitors to capture a non random sequence of prime numbers…

    In other words, we’ll probably be able to decide what to call it (the species) or them (the individuals) or them (the various species) on a case by case basis during identification. When I think back to my years of plant taxonomy, I still chuckle at how many times the most common of weeds was named differently with the Latin binomial system. And when it comes to common names, we’d throw up our hands. Ironweed was a Eupatorium on one side of the mountain but it was assigned to an Asclepias on the other side of the hill. And how many different plants are called indigos? When it comes to animals, it may not be as widespread, but c’mon, science cannot, try as they might, limit the imagination, tradition, and downright stubbornness of humans. When my grandfather called a skunk a polecat, I knew a polecat when I smelled one.

  9. Loren Coleman responds:

    I’ve been waiting for someone to ask that, so I’m happy that youcantryreachingme did.

    If you write a blog, as I do, you have to write tons of summary statements to encapsulate what you are trying to convey in your posting. I was attempting a fun play-on-words and play-on-attitude with my “inside and outside, the field” phrasology. I was both joking about the kinds of “fieldwork” of cryptozoology, and the insiders-outsiders in the media who try to report on cryptozoology, our “field,” and how they use whatever words that they may wish to employ. Of course, there is a jargon of cryptozoology, and it has nothing to do with degrees, academic, or coursework. I was merely playing with this wordsmith, as a metaphor of what seemed to be happening in this discussion of which words to use. Perhaps the delivery was too subtle. Perhaps you don’t know I do this all the time?

  10. youcantryreachingme responds:

    Your intent was not lost on me! :)

    But I do find it an interesting question…

    In your answer we can see the division between those who report on the field, and those engaged in researching cryptids, I guess.

    That would mean a person studying the correlation between sightings reports and general population dynamics for a similar, known species, would be just as much a cryptozoologist as the person who treks out into the mountains to try and capture that evasive photograph!

    (Did someone say ‘faith’ or ‘belief’?)

    Perhaps a few people should lock heads and draft the world’s first cryptozoology course? It would essentially be a combination of applied biology (population dynamics, statistics, habitat/ecology, with specializations into specific fields such as aquatic, mountainous or forested environments) and forensics science (including DNA and video analyses and social studies – to be skilled in analysing eyewitness accounts).

    You could even mix in a good dose of outdoor skills such as wilderness navigation and first aid, and low-impact bushwalking.

    Why stop there? Project planning, scheduling, budgeting and fund raising are all viable subjects!

    Oh dear. Ok. Now I’m getting too big for my boots. Or beet.

  11. Roger Knights responds:

    Responding to Jos Gagné:
    hypocrite lecteur is the way Baudelaire wrote it, in Fleurs de Mal. (Made famous by being quoted in The Wasteland.)

    Responding to Jeremy Wells:
    “Flatfoot and Tenderfoot are from slang.”
    So is Bigfoot.

    “fore feet is actually two words to pluralize the singular forefoot.”
    I doubt that. What dictionary were you consulting? My Random House dictionary gives it as one word. Googling for “forefeet” yields 159,000 hits; “fore feet” and “fore-feet” yield only 72,100 hits. (In detail, “fore feet” = 72,100, but that includes 30% “fore-feet” (based on counting the first 50 items), so only 50,470 hits were of “fore feet” without the hyphen. So “fore foot” is used 17% of the time, “forefoot” 7% of the time, and “forefoot” (my preference) 76%.)

    “it seems to trend for plants and animals is to use either “foot” as both plural and singular …”
    I don’t think that the items that the dictionary failed to give plurals for can be considered to pluralize with “-foot.” For instance, I looked at the first 150 entries for “fanfoot –football –team” and found no entries that were plural. What words do you pluralize by using “-foot”?

    “… or to pluralize creatures as ‘foots’. ‘Feet’ is more often used in informal or electoral usage (i.e. flatfeet/flatfoots, Blackfeet/Blackfoot) or when actually referencing the limbs (fore feet, clubfeet).”
    Good observation. Furthermore, I’ve found that this tendency applies to the items I listed for which no plural was given in my dictionary. Besides Bigfoot (which is the point at issue and can’t be used as evidence), these were: fanfoot, cocksfoot, lobfoot, padfoot, and outfoot. (The latter is a verb and shouldn’t have been included, so I don’t discuss it further.) In order to get an idea of how these four were pluralized in practice, I Googled for versions ending in –foots vs. –feet. My findings were:

    fanfoots—1, fanfeet—0 (out of only nine uses total)
    lobfoot—no plural usages; however, for the variant spelling lobefoots there are many uses, but lobefeet is relatively rare
    cocksfoots—is the preferred plural for cocksfoot.
    padfoots—is twice as common as padfeet.

    “From this list, I would say that, when/if the animal is identified, the proper name for a group of the creatures would be either ‘bigfoot’ (i.e. a family of bigfoot) …”
    I disagree, as I noted in my response to your “trend” sentence above.

    “… or the more awkward, but not without precedent, ‘bigfoots.’”
    You’ve convinced me that Bigfoots is preferable to Bigfeet. This is the first rational case I’ve seen for the term. (And I was the one who handed you the ammo you needed!)

    However, your phrase “if the animal is identified” contains a hidden assumption, namely that it IS an animal. What if, as Bayanov and some others believe, they’re more man than animal? Then they may want to have the last word in what they’re called. One of the leading manlike characteristics is contrariness. (If you haven’t observed this yet, you haven’t been a Bigfooter for long.) Therefore, the mere fact that WE have called them “Bigfoots” may make THEM prefer “Bigfeet.” That may be the final turn of the screw!

  12. Roger Knights responds:

    PS: Therefore, smile though we may at those who use “Bigfeet,” let’s remember that our target may yet laugh last. And let’s keep in mind that his error is forgivable, because only the names of rare plants and animals pluralize as -foots, while the words that pluralize as -feet are well-known.

  13. Loren Coleman responds:

    Coursework in cryptozoology has already happened, for over 16 years, but I was responding to the fact we are far from degrees, a B.A. or Masters in the science of cryptozoology.

  14. Metal_WolfReaper responds:

    I’m a blackfeet indian and your all correct, the tribe in montana prefer to be called blackfeet, in canada they prefer to be called blackfoot, the third tribe are the bloods. Just thought you’d like to hear it from an actual native american I guess lol



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