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In Spanish we say "forums" too. We don't use latin plural because... We speak Spanish, not Latin!

 

We get the Latin word, "forum", and then we aply Spanish rules, so the plural of this word in Spanish is "forums" or "fórumes" (I think the last fomr is more correct, but "fórum" is more used).

 

Last week I saw on TV that there was in Madrid a church where the celebrations are in Latin, so we can say than Latin is not a death language. It's very curious!

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one respondent noted that the whole thing was irrelevant. . . .and perhaps it is.

"It's not irrelevant, it's a hippopotamus"

( Flanders and Swan )

Dana

 

Not being familiar with Flanders and Swan (I live in Ashland, Oregon......far from Britain), I looked up Flanders and Swan in Wikipedia and thoroughly enjoyed reading about them. Here's one of their songs: "Have some Madeira M'Dear" — a song about seduction, full of complex word-play, including three oft-quoted examples of syllepsis. And then if you look up syllepsis (which I also don't know anything about........) in Wikipedia you get a reference to zeugma of which syllepsis is a specific kind. And here's a fun syllepsis: "You can leave in a taxi. If you can't get a taxi, you can leave in a huff. If that's too soon, you can leave in a minute and a huff." - Groucho Marx, from Duck Soup

 

I love reading these messages; almost as much as I enjoy playing the concertina. :-)

 

Yvonne

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I learned it this way:

 

Civilli, der, dego.

Fortibus es inero.

Novilli, deus trux,

Summit causen, summit dux.

 

And then there was: Pas de lieux rhône que nous. [Paddle your own canoe.]

 

Talk about irrelevant! If the word weren't in the name of the thread, I'd have to apologize for thread creep.

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The plural of octopus is octopodes, (pronouncing the e long). Every schoolboy knows it's Greek.

It is indeed traditional schoolboy knowledge, and, like many such schoolboy recitations, wrong. It comes from the Greek, but it is not the Greek itself. The Greek is ochtapous (omicron-chi-tau-alpha-pi-omicron-upsilon-sigma), accented on the final syllable och-ta-POOSE (to rhyme with loose). You can romanise the Greek script omicron-upsilon as a U if you like, but that still leaves the inconvenient facts of the chi and alpha as definitive arguments against the word in front of you being the Greek itself.

 

The word octopus is quite clearly latinate, ie Latin in form, but is it Latin? It isn't the Latin that any Roman spoke. I have tried and failed to find out exactly what word a classical period Roman would have used when he ate one. There is a (late) Classical Latin word polypus, which is obviously where the modern Italian polpo, French poulpe and Spanish pulpo, come from. But it is equally obviously a Greek borrowing, poly-pous many-foot. There must have been an earlier Latin word. I don't know how quickly polypus became the Latin colloquial word for octopus, or what happened to whatever older Latin word must have existed, and which I have failed to track down. I observe an alternate Italian word piovra, perhaps that recalls an older Latin usage, but I don't know.

 

Octopus is in fact "biological Latin", ie, a word coined by mediaeval scholars for scientific purposes. Since scientific conversations took place in Latin in mediaeval times, such words often became established as names for plants and animals, our gardens are full of them, convolvulus, forsythia, etc. Whilst in classical Latin the educated classes, who usually spoke Greek, were inclined to use Greek declensions for unaltered Greek loan-words, that isn't the practice in mediaeval Latin. If one were speaking mediaeval Latin, as many did even though it was no one's native tongue, it is quite clear that one would form the plural of octopus as octopi. So octopi, and hippopotami for the same reason, are both perfectly well-formed plurals, not solecisms, provided one is speaking or writing in mediaeval Latin.

 

I was taught to say "fora" as the only acceptable plural for "forum", alongside "formulae" and "radii", even though I went to school in Croydon. We Brits have read our Fowler, and "fora" is now rarely heard this side of the pond, except for crusty colonels complaining in the Daily Telegraph. In educated usage in the US, latinate plurals remain more common - "premia" as a plural for "premium" is practically universal there.

 

Some non-English plurals remain in common usage even this side of the pond, even Greek ones. I have never heard "phenomenons". I think the reason is that the hoi polloi (Greek = "the many") are not aware that "phenomena" is a plural. The word "phenomenon" has to come back into common speech before "phenomenons" can. I have heard "datums," but only in the specific context of it meaning a reference point, eg, surveying usage of a "datum line", not as a synonym for "data". Again, the hoi polloi have forgotten that "data" is a plural.

 

**edited 'cos I mixed up my nus and upsilons.

Edited by Ivan Viehoff
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I learned it this way:

 

Civilli, der, dego.

Fortibus es inero.

Novilli, deus trux,

Summit causen, summit dux.

 

And then there was: Pas de lieux rhône que nous. [Paddle your own canoe.]...

 

I am reminded of a slim volume of allegedly French poetry that sounds remarkably familiar when read aloud: Mots d'Heures, Gousses, Rames. I think I spelled that right...all I can remember of the poems themselves is one title/first line: "Un Petit d'un Petit" (it would be easier to figure out that that's "Humpty Dumpty" if I could remember how the second line is spelled).

 

jdms

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IVAN AND FOLKS: first, thanks for your thoughtful reply. . . . . .second: i can assure you that "premia" as plural for "premium" is NOT -- i repeat NOT -- universal in the US. . . . .whether among classes educated or less than that. . . . .in fact, i cannot remember the last time i saw/heard the word. . . . . .it's PREMIUMS. . . . .allan

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IVAN AND FOLKS: first, thanks for your thoughtful reply. . . . . .second: i can assure you that "premia" as plural for "premium" is NOT -- i repeat NOT -- universal in the US. . . . .whether among classes educated or less than that. . . . .in fact, i cannot remember the last time i saw/heard the word. . . . . .it's PREMIUMS. . . . .allan

Wow!

Premia in Russian is addition to the wage. It's singular. Plural is "Premi'i". Hah!

Interesting, it looks when Romans descended upon Ellins, the latter had many more words in their language, then the savage uneducated invadors. Naive and simple-minded Romans were easily corrupted by sophisticated and perverted Ellin culture, but were healthily amused by the profound smell of spoiled olive oil, smeared over naked Ellins' bodies, and called them Grekos.

I guess it means the plural will be Greka. It came into Russian as Greki, and singular - Grek. I see the day, when Grek will go into some language as plural, and singular will be Gre, and in some other - Gr, then G..., then we'll start mooing. Nature rotates.

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the hoi polloi (Greek = "the many")

 

Therefore not "The hoi polloi" but "hoi polloi".

 

Unless you mean "the the many".

It would of course be rational to do as you say, but we don't. We adopted the phrase "hoi polloi" into the language as a whole, and since there is not common understanding of ancient Greek articles, it "the hoi polloi" became common usage, which I naturally respect. The language is full of such tautologies, such River Avon, which means River River. Or Penmaentor Hill which means something not far removed from Hillhillhill Hill. Or children, which is a plural ending added to childer, which is already the plural of child.

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The word octopus is quite clearly latinate, ie Latin in form, but is it Latin?

 

I understood octopus was an English language word but derived from 'octo' - the latin word for eight.

It is certainly an English language word, we don't have any other word for it. The Latin word for 8 is octem, and words that come to us from Latin with the concept 8 would generally begin oct-. Thus your understanding is understandable and common, but nonetheless mistaken. Had English persons decided to coin a word for the animal from Latin roots, they would have come up with octoped (compare: biped, quadruped), since the Latin word for foot is pes, in the genitive pedem. Compare platypus, Greek flat-foot, which we can more clearly see is entirely Greek, because the Latin would have given us planiped.

 

The origin of the English word octopus is just as I said, namely, from the Greek but via mediaeval Latin, which you can confirm in any good dictionary, eg http://www.webster.com/dictionary/octopus.

 

In the quotation you took from me, I was considering whether "octopus", in addition to being the English word for that animal, had at some prior stage been the Latin word for that animal. I concluded that it certainly was not the classical Latin word for that animal, but it is the biological Latin word for that animal, preceding the English usage of it.

 

**edited to add final paragraph and minor corrections

Edited by Ivan Viehoff
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GOOD FOLKS: had i known that my irrelevant posting about an irrelevant matter (always in terms of concertina-related matters, of course) would call forth such a display of further irrelevant postings (again, in terms of the concertina), i'd have held back my original irrelevant posting on the grounds that it was irrelevant. . . . . .

 

but how else would we have added a new word to the english language: "BI" as the plural of "BUS". . . . . .allan

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the hoi polloi (Greek = "the many")

 

Therefore not "The hoi polloi" but "hoi polloi".

 

Unless you mean "the the many".

It would of course be rational to do as you say, but we don't. We adopted the phrase "hoi polloi" into the language as a whole, and since there is not common understanding of ancient Greek articles, it "the hoi polloi" became common usage, which I naturally respect. The language is full of such tautologies, such River Avon, which means River River. Or Penmaentor Hill which means something not far removed from Hillhillhill Hill. Or children, which is a plural ending added to childer, which is already the plural of child.

 

I wholeheartedly agree totally that redundant tautology is adversely bad.

 

I think this every time I go to Lake Windermere, or Breedon on the Hill. Tell me, is this Penmaentor Hill somewhere in the fens, or is further east in the broads? ;0)

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