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Mar 21, 2016
This week’s theme
Words with unusual plurals

This week’s words
bema
quale
starets
genus
paries

“Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone.” ~Emerson
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

If you’re planning to time travel to the past this summer you might want to double check your packing list. Long frilly dresses? Check. Powdered wigs? Check. But what about language? Well, it’s hard to do language right. Take something small, say, plurals.

One tree, two ____? One roof, two ____? If you lived a few hundred years ago, correct answers would have been treen and rooves, respectively. Passage of time helps make things straightforward -- now we can just stick on an s. Unfortunately, this process doesn’t work very consistently as we still have ox/oxen and hoof/hooves.

This week we’ll see five words that use irregular plurals. These words, originally from Latin, Greek, and Russian, bring with them their own plurals.

bema

PRONUNCIATION:
(BEE-muh)
plural bemata, bemas

MEANING:
noun: 1. A platform for speaking. 2. An area around the altar in a place of worship.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Greek bema (step, platform), from bainein (to go). Earliest documented use: 1683.

USAGE:
“‘Why don’t you join me on the bema?’ He pointed to the platform he stood on.”
Matthew Arnold Stern; Doria; Lulu; 2012.

See more usage examples of bema in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Our shouting is louder than our actions, / Our swords are taller than us, / This is our tragedy. / In short / We wear the cape of civilization / But our souls live in the stone age. -Nizar Qabbani, poet and diplomat (21 Mar 1923-1998)

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