Print

Print


> 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.