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#117363 - 12/09/03 06:34 PM Virii again  
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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?)


#117364 - 12/09/03 06:49 PM Re: Virii again  
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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.


#117365 - 12/09/03 07:02 PM Re: Virii again  
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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?


#117366 - 12/09/03 07:03 PM Re: Virii again  
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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).




#117367 - 12/09/03 07:22 PM Re: Virii again  
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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.


#117368 - 12/09/03 07:27 PM Re: Virii again  
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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!






#117369 - 12/09/03 07:43 PM Re: Virii again  
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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.


#117370 - 12/09/03 07:53 PM Re: Virii again  
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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.


#117371 - 12/09/03 07:56 PM Re: Virii again  
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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.


#117372 - 12/10/03 02:33 AM Re: Virii again  
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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
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