> Quoting Andreas Johansson <[log in to unmask]>: > >> Quoting Eugene Oh <[log in to unmask]>: >> >> > On Tue, May 27, 2008 at 10:51 PM, caeruleancentaur >> > <[log in to unmask]> wrote: >> > >> > > In the first declension, overwhelmingly feminine, there are a few >> > > masculine words, e.g., "poeta," poet. The plural is the normal -ae >> of >> > > the first declension, "poetae," not the -i of the second. >> > > >> > > By analogy, wouldn't the hypothetical plural of "virus," even though >> > > neuter, be the "viri" of the second declension? Why would a third >> > > declension ending, "vira," be introduced? NO, NO, that's false analogy and the neuter plural -a is _NOT_ peculiar to the 3rd declension. ALL _Latin_ neuter nouns, without exception, form their nom., acc. & vocative plurals in -a (the only apparent exceptions are a few Greek borrowings). This applies, as the two quotes below show, irrespective of whether the noun is 2nd declension (e.g. oppidum ~ oppida), 3rd declension (opus ~ opera) or 4th declension (cornu ~ cornua) - the are no 1st or 5th declension neuters. >> > There is an overriding rule in Latin that all neuter nominatives, >> > accusatives and vocatives end in -um in the singular and -a in the >> > plural, whichever declension pattern they belong to. Hence oppidum, >> > oppida; tempus, tempora; opus, opera; animal, animalia; etc. Quite right! >> As Eugene's own examples show, there is no such rule in the singular >> (further >> counterexamples: cornu, pl cornua; nomen, pl nomina; systema, pl >> systemata). >> The >> rule for the plural is nevertheless accurate. > > I should add that whatever unreasonable shape the neuter nominative > singular > takes, the accusative and vocative singular are always identical to it. > Perhaps > this was what Eugene meant to say? > > Andreas Johansson Correct. There are one or two other odd 2nd declension neuters like 'virus'; another common one is 'vulgus' (mob, people etc). They are mass nouns. The only exception is _pelagus_ (sea) which does have a fairly rare plural _pelage_ - but that's a Greek borrowing. Latin plural _viri_ means "men" in the sense of 'adult male humans'; it is the plural of _vir_. The plural of _virus_ has been discussed before on the list (search the archives). If a plural were to be used in Classical Latin (presumably meaning 'different types of slime, poison etc') it would have been *vira. In English the plural is normally 'viruses' and IMHO any other formation is pretensious and certainly displays an ignorance of Latin. Ray.