Harry the hippopotamus had a problem that was keeping him from sleeping at night.
He had already asked all the other hippopotamuses for their opinions and it looked like a fairly even split with half of them favoring the use of hippopotamuses and the other half certain that hippopotami was the correct plural for their species of animal life in Africa.
He was a little confused about using hippopotamuses or hippopotami but he was quite sure that they were in Africa because his mama told him so.
His mama was never wrong.
Unfortunately, she did not want to get into the discussion about what to call two or more hippos when using a plural to describe them accurately.
Even though Harry had never seen an Octopus, he was certain Octopuses was the correct way to refer to multiple Octopus creatures. Then, along came the “know it all” schoolteacher recently arrived in the game preserve and she was adamant that everything that ended in “us” needed to be changed to “i” because it was something called “Latin”.
Harry didn’t think that he wasn’t very Latin and he knew most of the other hippopotamuses didn’t think “hippopotami” was the correct form of designation.
Besides, he didn’t think that old time stuff like Latin and Rome and Greek and Greece belonged anywhere near Africa and they as free hippopotamuses could use any ending that suited their fancy.
He remembered with his very keen hippopotamus mind that it wasn’t very long ago that the newspaper would not publish his story about life in a hippopotamus herd because he kept using the word “amongst”.
It seemed to Harry the hippopotamus that he should have the final say on which was correct usage in a sentence that had to choose between “among” or “amongst”.
He asked his mama and his mama told him,
“Harry, you are a grown hippopotamus now and you shouldn’t be coming to your mama every time you have a problem”
Harry knew his mama was right because she was always right and she was the one that loved him the most in the whole wide world.
It was beginning to bother him that there were so many brainy hippopotami now that felt that they were smart enough to younger hippopotamuses on the straight and narrow when it came to writing.
When he asked his hippopotamus girlfriend about his writing unaccepted words, she just laughed at him like he going crazy standing out in the sun all day.
She told him,
“Come on in the water and play with us, Harry. Don’t be so serious; after all, hippopotamuses need to have some fun time too.”
He looked around the hippopotamus village and had to agree that there needed to be more fun amongst the hippopotami in the village and a lot less time dotting all the “i”s and crossing all the “t”s.
After that, it was a lot more fun for Harry to just eat and swim in the river and play with the other hippopotamuses leaving all the rules and regulations to the school teachers and the newspaper writers that never seemed to enjoy a mistake when it was actually written down for others to see.
In fact, he went out of his way to make friends with the neighboring Giraffes and they would run across the open plains like they were almost the same and didn’t look so odd next to each other. After all, the giraffe was so tall with his long thin neck and he was so short and round that he looked more like huge barrel than a sleek fast moving giraffe.
His other hippopotami friends made fun of him running with the giraffes and chasing the always hungry crocodiles from the river so the little baby hippos could swim and bathe without any danger.