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If Liberi means Children, is "Liber" the singular form?

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If Liberi means Children, is "Liber" the singular form?

Postby svaens » Sat Nov 12, 2016 10:45 am

Hi all,

I am doing a bit of joint Italian and Latin,
and coming across an ambiguity in Italian I was just comparing it to the less ambiguous Latin,
but came across something I hadn't yet been able to clear up with the books I have or internet searches I've made.

If Liberi means Children, is "Liber" the singular form?

I will fill out my understanding of the words, singular and plural form, in the below table.
Perhaps someone can confirm or correct? Thanks!
For your interest, the ambiguity I was trying to clear up (in Italian) is the word for Children seems to be the same as the plural for son. The problem is best demonstrated by an excerpt from 'L'Italiano secondo il metodo natura'; Due figli e due figlie sono quattro figli.
This ambiguity does not seem to exist in Latin, which is interesting, as Italian sort of stems from Latin, right?
Duo filii et Duo filiae sunt quattuor Liberi.

Code: Select all
Italian            (pl)              Latin        (pl)
-------------------------------------------------------------
figlio              figli             filius        filii
figlia              figlie            filia          filiae
?                   figli            liber ?       liberi
bambino            bambini            puer         pueri
bambina            bambine            puella       puellae


Thanks for your help!
svaens
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Re: If Liberi means Children, is "Liber" the singular form?

Postby mwh » Sat Nov 12, 2016 6:53 pm

Hi sean,
I think it’s a great idea to do Italian along with Latin.

Since both languages are gender-specific, there’s really no word for “child,” you’re either a son or a daughter. But for “children,” or sons and daughters jointly (note we tend to put "sons" first), the masculine form is used; these cultures, like all cultures, have sexism built into them. It’s the same with other words. “The male embraces the female” is how it’s sometimes put, ha ha.
Technically speaking the singular of liberi is liber, but that’s not used to mean “child” but only “free" (as in "the land of the free," not as in "free stuff"); so the plural liberi relies on context for disambiguation. The –i- is long, unlike in liber “book.”
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Re: If Liberi means Children, is "Liber" the singular form?

Postby anphph » Wed Nov 16, 2016 1:33 pm

mwh wrote:But for “children,” or sons and daughters jointly (note we tend to put "sons" first). Technically speaking the singular of liberi is liber, but that’s not used to mean “child” but only “free".


You are of course right, but I couldn't help but think of this, especially since you mentioned freedom!
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