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#117373 - 12/10/03 07:21 AM viruses  
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Jenet Offline
journeyman
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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.


#117374 - 12/10/03 10:43 AM Re: viruses  
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Faldage Offline
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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.


#117375 - 12/10/03 11:27 AM Re: viruses  
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Capfka Offline
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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.


#117376 - 12/10/03 01:45 PM Re: Virii again  
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birdfeed Offline
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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?


#117377 - 12/10/03 08:22 PM Re: viruses  
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Jenet Offline
journeyman
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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.


#117378 - 12/10/03 08:28 PM And while we're at it...  
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AnnaStrophic Offline
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what did the Romans take to be a virus anyway?


#117379 - 12/10/03 08:44 PM Re: Cogitating, er, go somewhere else?  
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sjmaxq Offline
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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.


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


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


#117382 - 12/10/03 11:09 PM Re: bad water  
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AnnaStrophic Offline
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It means "poisoned water" or "tainted water" in Latin.

Thanks, Pfranz.


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