Wordsmith.org: the magic of words

Wordsmith Talk

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 >
Topic Options
#117363 - 12/09/03 01:34 PM Virii again
sjmaxq Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/20/03
Posts: 3230
Loc: Te Ika a Maui
On another board, I posted a link to this page:
http://www.perl.com/language/misc/virus.html

Someone took issue with it, so I came back here to check the last time I asked aboiut it. That thread surprised me for at least two reasons. One, the first responses to to my query all disagreed with the page cited above, and two, there was no input from Faldage. Also, as has been known to happen here once or twice, the thread drifted a little.

I have no problem with the page being wrong, if it is, but I would like an assessment of its technical merits and correctness, or lack thereof, by those with the knowhow to provide such. Bingley took an active part in the earlier thread, so thank you, kind sir, and please feel free to weigh in again.

It's a straightforward question, really. Is the page, which I cite often, any good, or is it all wrong, and just so full of grammarese that a lay person won't know its all bogus (or is that bogi?)

_________________________
noho ora mai
http://maxqnzs.com/References.html

Top
#117364 - 12/09/03 01:49 PM Re: Virii again
Capfka Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/28/02
Posts: 1624
Loc: Utter Placebo, Planet Reebok
Well, the Oxford I have says that it comes from L = "slimy liquid". In which case the plural is viri if it's second declension and probably virus if it's fourth declension.

But I'm not claiming this as being definitive, just my 2c worth, FWIW! I usually say viruses anyway, since it seems to be the common usage.


Top
#117365 - 12/09/03 02:02 PM Re: Virii again
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
The print in our OED has gotten too small for me to read so I'll defer to Faldage and his collection of Latin dictionaries. Pfranz, you see virus as fourth-declension plural?


Top
#117366 - 12/09/03 02:03 PM Re: Virii again
Jenet Offline
journeyman

Registered: 11/22/03
Posts: 81
That looks pretty thorough to me, and though I can't see anything wrong with it, there are several misleading things.

The examples of corpus/corpora and opus/opera are irrelevant. Those are from stems corpos- and opos- and have plural ending -a just like every other neuter. The adjectives are corpor-al but vir-al (not viror-al).

Any mention of vocative or accusative by analogy with masculine is irrelevant: neuters always had nom/voc/acc identical. The accusative and vocative of virus _must be_ virus, whatever its declension.

The Greek pelagus and cetus aren't relevant, because the Romans fitted Greek words into Latin declensions when they fitted easily, but kept the Greek endings otherwise: hence Greek plurals pelag-e, cet-e. The Greek for poison was ios, cognate with virus. (A quick look at the Greek dictionary tells us it's masculine, with no plural given, so that doesn't help.)

Fourth declension? My trusty Latin grammar (it had bloody better be trusty) says the neuter ending was -u, as in cornu = horn, gen.sg. -us, plural -ua as in cornua. As the word is virus, not viru, that seems to rule out virua.

I think it's a rule that neuter plurals always end in -a, regardless of the declension (sometimes -ia as in mare/maria, animal/animalia, and sometimes -ua as in cornua, but always final a).




Top
#117367 - 12/09/03 02:22 PM Re: Virii again
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
Pending digging through my old Latin texts, I'm with Jenet on this'n. Latin *did have what they called defective verbs, verbs that didn't have entries in every conjugation slot. Not sure about defective nouns, off-hand. Your link, Max, was a little dense for a quick perusal. I'll maybe print it out and read it at home. What I did read seemed to be more on the too much side than the too little, but.


Top
#117368 - 12/09/03 02:27 PM Re: Virii again
Capfka Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/28/02
Posts: 1624
Loc: Utter Placebo, Planet Reebok
Pfranz, you see virus as fourth-declension plural?

Nope, I don't see anything at the moment. All my Latin books are currently in boxes awaiting transfer to the same bookcase, but at a different location ...

My (ever-faulty) memory just has this thing about single syllable stems in the fourth declension and how the plurals were sometime formed. Virus seems to fit. IF it's fourth.

Jenet may well be right, and I'm not arguing!

Aha, found what I was looking for on the net:

Manus -us, nf, hand

Case Singular Plural
Nominative manus manus
Genitive manus manuum
Dative manui,manu manibus, (manubus)
Accusative manum manus
Ablative manu manibus, (manubus)
Locative mani manibus, (manubus)
Vocative manus manus

This formation holds for both masculine and feminine nouns. For neuter nouns, as Jenet says, the form is

Cornu, -us, nn, horn
Case Singular Plural
Nominative cornu cornua
Genitive cornus cornuum
Dative cornu cornibus
Accusative cornu cornua
Ablative cornu cornibus
Locative ? cornibus
Vocative cornu cornua

None of which, of course, supports my impression, because I still don't know if virus was 4th declension! However, I'll lay odds that if it is it is masculine or feminine. If it's second, of course, it's mostly likely to be masculine, although there were a few feminine examples.

Found this, though, in Notre Dame's on line Latin Dictionary. It's probably as authorative as we're going to get:

virus -i n. [slimy liquid , slime; poison, esp. of snakes, venom; any harsh taste or smell].

So it's second dec, and it's masculine more likely than not. Phew!






Top
#117369 - 12/09/03 02:43 PM Re: Virii again
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
A little googling reveals that there were defective nouns and they lacked the plural.

They were of three types:

1. Most proper names: as, Caesar, Caesar; Gallia, Gaul. 

2. Names of things not counted, but reckoned in mass:
as, aurum, gold áér, air; tríticum, wheat.

3. Abstract nouns: as, ambitió, ambition; fortitúdó, courage; calor, heat

Virus looks pretty type 2 to me.


Top
#117370 - 12/09/03 02:53 PM Re: Virii again
Capfka Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/28/02
Posts: 1624
Loc: Utter Placebo, Planet Reebok
WEll, if you're right, then Notre Dame has it wrong. But the definition is the same as the one in my Concise Oxford, so it's pretty much definite that it's virus, viri.


Top
#117371 - 12/09/03 02:56 PM Re: Virii again
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
We have to remember that in classical Latin virus was an uncountable noun. Its meaning has shifted in Modern English and it is quite countable, but, being an English word it deserves an English plural.


Top
#117372 - 12/09/03 09:33 PM Re: Virii again
Bingley Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/09/00
Posts: 3065
Loc: Jakarta
In reply to:

Found this, though, in Notre Dame's on line Latin Dictionary. It's probably as authorative as we're going to get:

virus -i n. [slimy liquid , slime; poison, esp. of snakes, venom; any harsh taste or smell].

So it's second dec, and it's masculine more likely than not. Phew!


I think you may find that n. stands for neuter rather than noun. That is how I would read the similar entry in Perseus' Lewis and Short (http://makeashorterlink.com/?N152524C6)anyway.

The article max referred us to suggests that the plural is unattested in Latin, and it is fair to say that it is a matter of some controversy how the Romans would have formed the plural had they ever had call to use it.

I do not see, therefore, that there is anything to criticise in using the normal English way of forming plurals by adding -es. This is the best policy anyway in pluralising naturalised English words. I doubt anyone would pluralise gamelan as gamelan-gamelan, though this is what it would be in the language it was borrowed from.

Bingley

_________________________
Bingley

Top
#117373 - 12/10/03 02:21 AM viruses
Jenet Offline
journeyman

Registered: 11/22/03
Posts: 81
I agree 100% it should be viruses, nothing else.

It is an interesting question what it would have been in Latin. Did they ever write aquae, lactes? From the look of it, if it was neuter it would have to have taken -a, and I can't see anything in the stem except vir- (there's an adjective vir-osus meaning slimy), so it would have to be vira if they'd chosen to make one. It's a long i, so it's different from vir = man.


Top
#117374 - 12/10/03 05:43 AM Re: viruses
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
it should be viruses, nothing else.

Certainly in English. Max's link raises the question of how to handle it in its new meaning if you are writing a treatise in Latin about viruses. Since it's no longer uncountable you don't have the luxury of ignoring the plural and viruses ain' gone hack it.

PS

Welcome, Jenet, stranger no more.


Top
#117375 - 12/10/03 06:27 AM Re: viruses
Capfka Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/28/02
Posts: 1624
Loc: Utter Placebo, Planet Reebok
Oh, as I said in my first response in this thread, in English it should undoubtedly be viruses. Can you imagine a doctor saying "Well, your offspring has come down with one of two or three candidate viri?" I think not ...

But it's an interesting discussion nonetheless.

Bingley, the Notre Dame entry specified virus -i, which means it's (a) second dec and (b) either masculine or feminine. The "n" in their dictionary is the part of speech - noun.

I would imagine that it pretty much fitted into the class of uncountable nouns, although there must have been occasions when a plural was necessary. In that case I would imagine that either the singular form was used in a plural context in the same way we use "sheep" as both singular and plural, or the assumption was made that it was second dec and fitted the "normal" formation for plurals. Or some completely different word was substituted, I suppose.


Top
#117376 - 12/10/03 08:45 AM Re: Virii again
birdfeed Offline
member

Registered: 11/19/02
Posts: 180
Loc: Atlanta, GA
"The print in our OED has gotten too small for me to read"

I don't know anything about Latin noun declensions, but I can solve this problem for you. Stop washing that thang in hot water. Didn't your mama teach you nothin', girl?


Top
#117377 - 12/10/03 03:22 PM Re: viruses
Jenet Offline
journeyman

Registered: 11/22/03
Posts: 81
I felt really silly after dutifully consulting both a pocket paper dictionary and an on-line one and blithely accepting that "n.". After a while I realised I had no idea at all whether it stood for noun or neuter. In my paper dictionary the adjectives are marked a. but some nouns are marked f. -- not n.f. just f. So I think it's saying virus is neuter, not just a noun.

or the assumption was made that it was second dec and fitted the "normal" formation for plurals

But this is the very question at issue. What is the "normal" plural for a subclass where no normal examples are known? There are no normal second declension neuters with plurals! Very careless of them, I must say. It's not as if they're semantically ruled out, is it? If Greek words like whale and sea can fit in, and they have plurals, why shouldn't Latin have had them? Or, on the other hand, what on earth is a 2nd.decl. neuter doing with the ending -us?

But my claim is that he "normal" plural would have to be -a, if it's neuter.


Top
#117378 - 12/10/03 03:28 PM And while we're at it...
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
what did the Romans take to be a virus anyway?


Top
#117379 - 12/10/03 03:44 PM Re: Cogitating, er, go somewhere else?
sjmaxq Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/20/03
Posts: 3230
Loc: Te Ika a Maui
Would this be a fair summary?
The word "virus", as used in English, is truly an English word, and should therefore be pluralised acording to English rules. Further, the Latin word "virus" had no known plural, therefore any who say that the "real" Latin plural of "virus" (in the modern sense of an individual pathogen) is viri, virii, vriacalifragilisticexpialidoci, or whatever, are in fact, just bloviating.

_________________________
noho ora mai
http://maxqnzs.com/References.html

Top
#117380 - 12/10/03 05:44 PM Re: Cogitating, er, go somewhere else?
Capfka Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/28/02
Posts: 1624
Loc: Utter Placebo, Planet Reebok
No, no, Faldage suggested that it might be one of the class of Latin nouns which don't take a plural. There's no proof that this is the case, and the Notre Dame dictionary entry suggests that, in fact, it does take a plural and conforms to the regular Latin second declension noun formation rules.

Jenet is suggesting that s/he thinks it's a neuter noun. I'm saying that I don't think it is. I think it's either masculine (most likely if it's second declension) or feminine, but NOT neuter. Since my "big-as-a-house" Latin dictionary is packed away, I can't look it up so I'm not getting dogmatic about it.

Virus, in its Latin sense, has absolutely nothing to do with viruses in English, although the English word comes from the Latin root. It means "poisoned water" or "tainted water" in Latin. You know, what happened when the Federal soldiers threw dead animals down Confederate wells in the 1860s, that kind of thing, presumably. More e.coli than ebola, if you see what I mean!


Top
#117381 - 12/10/03 05:48 PM Re: Cogitating, er, go somewhere else?
sjmaxq Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/20/03
Posts: 3230
Loc: Te Ika a Maui
Ah, in my summary, I did say that the word had no known Latin plural, which is a little different to saying it had no plural at all, no?

Anyway, thanks for confirming the core part of my attempted synopsis - "virus" as a noun to describe a biological or computer pathogen is an English word, and should be pluralised accordingly.

_________________________
noho ora mai
http://maxqnzs.com/References.html

Top
#117382 - 12/10/03 06:09 PM Re: bad water
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
It means "poisoned water" or "tainted water" in Latin.

Thanks, Pfranz.


Top
#117383 - 12/10/03 09:37 PM Re: Cogitating, er, go somewhere else?
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
The problem with virus following normal 2nd declension forms is that it conflicts with vir in every case except the nominative singular. Also, I don't see why you'd reject neuter gender for a 2nd declension noun. Most, if not all, 2nd declension nouns are either masculine or neuter, and, while my Latin text says that all 2nd declension nouns ending in -um are neuter, it does *not say that all 2nd declension nouns ending in -us are masculine. All three dictionaries I have say virus is neuter.


Top
#117384 - 12/11/03 09:21 AM Re: Cogitating, er, go somewhere else?
Capfka Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/28/02
Posts: 1624
Loc: Utter Placebo, Planet Reebok
Well I've been relying entirely on Notre Dame's on-line dictionary. It would be unusual - very - if it follows f/m second dec format and is neuter ... why wouldn't it be virum in that case? Ah well, language is like any organism. No matter how well controlled the heat, the water and the nutrients, the organism does as it damned well pleases.


Top
#117385 - 12/11/03 09:23 AM Re: Cogitating, er, go somewhere else?
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
Perhaps you have forgotten that 1st declension is primarily feminine, 2nd is primarily masculine and neuter.


Top
Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 >

Moderator:  Jackie 
Forum Stats
8770 Members
16 Forums
13814 Topics
216169 Posts

Max Online: 3341 @ 12/09/11 02:15 PM
Newest Members
dskoe, Rupak, DeathCake, malagachica, Jamie
8770 Registered Users
Who's Online
0 registered (), 33 Guests and 4 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Top Posters (30 Days)
LukeJavan8 102
endymion6 101
wofahulicodoc 90
AlimaeHP 14
Tromboniator 10
tsuwm 2
BranShea 2
DeathCake 1
Kokopelli 1
sleeper54 1
Top Posters
wwh 13858
Faldage 13803
Jackie 11610
tsuwm 10525
Buffalo Shrdlu 7210
LukeJavan8 6792
AnnaStrophic 6511
Wordwind 6296
of troy 5400
BranShea 5284

Disclaimer: Wordsmith.org is not responsible for views expressed on this site. Use of this forum is at your own risk and liability - you agree to hold Wordsmith.org and its associates harmless as a condition of using it.

Home | Today's Word | Yesterday's Word | Subscribe | FAQ | Archives | Search | Feedback
Wordsmith Talk | Wordsmith Chat

© 2014 Wordsmith