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Third declension Strategy

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Third declension Strategy

Postby vastor » Wed Jun 25, 2008 5:53 pm

Salvete,

I'm currently debating which is the most efficient processing strategy for third declension nouns.

The problem:
Third declension neuter forms differ significantly from the masculine / feminine forms in both the consonant and -i- stems. What information should we internalise in order to reconstruct the entire declension and determine the correct gender to render modifiers in?

The various rules in dooge's text for dropping, substituting, and adding of characters seems rather pointless considering we need to recall more than the nominative form in order to decline anyway.

There are key parts of each noun which must be known in order to decline and process it in a sentence.
(1) The Gender
(2) The stem (or a case which reveals how to decline it, gen plural for ex).
(3) The nominative form.

I can see two possible ways of doing this.
(1) Internalising the nominative singular form, the stem, and the gender.
(2) Internalising the nominative singular and plural, and the genitive plural.

Or perhaps there is a simpler method of acquiring these nouns?
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Postby benissimus » Wed Jun 25, 2008 8:07 pm

In my opinion the approach by which D'Ooge teaches the third declension, i.e. deriving the nominative and stem from each other based on phonology rules, works very well for some languages, but not for Latin. These ways of predicting nominative and stem from each other in the third declension are quite interesting and can be very illuminating at times, but there are so many sound changes that occur in the third declension that it is almost absurd to ask the student to memorize all the sound changes just to have the ability to make an educated guess at the nominative/stem, which will still often be a bit off. In fact, if the student memorizes the nominative and genitive (or other stem-revealing case), most of these patterns will start to become apparent, and at that time the student may go back and formalize the rules if they are so inclined.

I can see two possible ways of doing this.
(1) Internalising the nominative singular form, the stem, and the gender.
(2) Internalising the nominative singular and plural, and the genitive plural.

The traditional method is to memorize the nominative singular and genitive singular, but I suppose memorizing the nominative singular and genitive plural would be a little more informative. In either case, you still have to memorize gender and, in i-stems, to what degree the noun retains/inserts the i.

I would not recommend memorizing the nominative singular and plural as well as the genitive plural. While the nominative plural would tell you right away the gender of neuter nouns, it would serve no added purpose for the masc/fem nouns.

Third declension neuter forms differ significantly from the masculine / feminine forms in both the consonant and -i- stems. What information should we internalise in order to reconstruct the entire declension and determine the correct gender to render modifiers in?

If you do intend to use D'Ooge's approach and this matter of the neuters is grieving you, perhaps this will help you:

neuters of the third declension use the stem for the nominative. The vowels sometimes get weakened, (caput, capit-; flumen, flumin-) but the consonants generally remain and the vowel positions are still filled by vowels. For neuter i-stems the final i of the stem either drops (animal, animali-) or is weakened to -e (mare, mari-).
Last edited by benissimus on Wed Jun 25, 2008 11:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby vastor » Wed Jun 25, 2008 10:04 pm

benissimus wrote:In my opinion the approach by which D'Ooge teaches the third declension, i.e. deriving the nominative and stem from each other based on phonology rules, works very well for some languages, but not for Latin. These ways of predicting nominative and stem from each other in the third declension are quite interesting and can be very illuminating at times, but there are so many sound changes that occur in the third declension that it is almost absurb to ask the student to memorize all the sound changes just to have the ability to make an educated guess at the nominative/stem, which will still often be a bit off. In fact, if the student memorizes the nominative and genitive (or other stem-revealing case), most of these patterns will start to become apparent, and at that time the student may go back and formalize the rules if they are so inclined.


This is exactly how I feel. Perhaps when I become more familiar with the morphology and phonetics of the various constructions, this will be useful. But to burden the autodidactic student with such a task at this early a stage is counter-productive in my opinion.

benissimus wrote:The traditional method is to memorize the nominative singular and genitive singular, but I suppose memorizing the nominative singular and genitive plural would be a little more informative. In either case, you still have to memorize gender and, in i-stems, to what degree the noun retains/inserts the i.


The genitive singular is useful in the second declension, as we can derive the stem from it. But unless you know the stem class already, it is functionally equally as useful as the other cases; perhaps even less, as you stated.

I agree about the gender. After writing the first post, I realised it was impossible to morphologically deduce masculinity or femininity from the forms of the third declension. Only the neuter may be determined with certainty in this way.

benissimus wrote:I would not recommend memorizing the nominative singular and plural as well as the genitive plural. While the nominative plural would tell you right away the gender of neuter nouns, it would serve no added purpose for the masc/fem nouns.


You are right. After further contemplation I came to the same conclusion.

benissimus wrote:If you do intend to use D'Ooge's approach and this matter of the neuters is grieving you, perhaps this will help you:

neuters of the third declension use the stem for the nominative. The vowels sometimes get weakened, (caput, capit-; flumen, flumin-) but the consonants generally remain and the vowel positions are still filled by vowels. For neuter i-stems the final i of the stem either drops (animal, animali-) or is weakened to -e (mare, mari-).


Thanks. That was helpful. I have decided to memorise the nominative singular, the stem, and the gender. Whether this is sufficient is uncertain.
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Postby benissimus » Thu Jun 26, 2008 12:04 am

vastor wrote:Thanks. That was helpful. I have decided to memorise the nominative singular, the stem, and the gender. Whether this is sufficient is uncertain.

I can tell you that if you memorize those three items for every noun of the 3rd declension, you will know everything you need to know about most nouns, and almost everything you need to know about the rest. Unfortunately there is just no way to account for certain irregularities every time, but those will be relatively few by comparison.
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