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Hitting the Third Declension Wall!

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Hitting the Third Declension Wall!

Postby solitario » Wed Jan 21, 2004 2:47 am

I was doing good until I hit chapter 7 and the Third Declension Nouns.
Just look at these wack declensions:
homō
hominis
hominī
hominem
homine
hominēs
hominum
hominibus
hominēs
hominibus
Now I ask you, what is the magical mystery secret to mastering Third Declension nouns? Or is this one of those things I have to memorize?

MULTAS GRATIAS
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Postby benissimus » Wed Jan 21, 2004 3:04 am

Yes, you do have to memorize these, and it can seem like it is nothing like the other declensions but there are similarities. There are also very good reasons for the forms if you get interested in linguistics and decide to study that. Fortunately, there's a lot of duplication in the plural cases (dative=ablative, nominative=accusative) Anyways:

NOM SING - memorize PLUR - same as accusative plural, also very similar to English and Romance languages
GEN SING - every declension's genitive singular except 2nd decl. originally ended in S (remember paterfamilias, familia, familias) PLUR all declension' genitive plural ends in -um
DAT SING - same as those irregular adjectives you'll be learning soon :P DAT/ABL PLUR -ibus looks like that -abus found in the first declension
ACC SING - all of them end in M, just the vowel before the M changes PLUR - ends in S like all of them
ABL SING - ends in a vowel, like all of them
Last edited by benissimus on Mon Apr 05, 2004 3:51 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Nexus Ferocis » Wed Jan 21, 2004 3:15 am

I always hated the third declension. If I were to create a language, there would be declensions 1, 2, 4, and up. No third declension, no need for it, just to spite it. :lol: Seriously though, Benissimus seems to have the best advice. The worst part about the third declension is gender. Though there are some rules, you just need to memorize the gender of nouns too.
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Postby solitario » Wed Jan 21, 2004 11:22 pm

Many thanks. Right now I'm making a chart of these funky declensions like the students of old.
I'm dreading :( the next chapter with ille, iste, and hic.
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Postby fool4jesus » Tue Jan 27, 2004 6:44 pm

solitario wrote:Many thanks. Right now I'm making a chart of these funky declensions like the students of old.
I'm dreading :( the next chapter with ille, iste, and hic.


I like Dorothy Sayer's comment: "The rot always seemed to set in at the Third Anything". In other words, if you think the third declension is weird, wait 'til the third conjugation. :cry: Here's the text of Sayers' whole address:

http://www.memoriapress.com/articles/sa ... yers1.html
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Postby solitario » Wed Jan 28, 2004 12:24 am

Ouch... Here's the saddest part of the article:
An acquaintance of mine whose boy is just starting life at a grammar school tells me that the boys there do not begin Latin till they are eleven. I am sure that this is too late.
And here I am trying to learn Latin at 30!
Why oh why is the U.S. so behind in language education? Arrrggghhh!
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Postby 1%homeless » Wed Jan 28, 2004 2:51 am

Why oh why is the U.S. so behind in language education?


:) There are many theories with this one. One is that the US is politically, culturally, and ecomonically dominant. Another is that the US has no language contact on it's border other than Spanish.

Oh yes, for the third neuter I-declensions, they all start with an i except in the nominative and accusative. With fem. and masc. I-declension, you just have to note the genitive plural ending. Also, did you check the tutorial on this website about Latin nouns, especially on page 4? Benissimus's article about the perfect explain "irrational" word endings too. In wheelock's appendix called "Some etymological aids" there are little more explanations too.
Last edited by 1%homeless on Wed Jan 28, 2004 3:09 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby benissimus » Wed Jan 28, 2004 2:55 am

There is some French up north.... :shock: Actually, those are the two languages they had at my school... I suppose that makes sense.
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Postby 1%homeless » Wed Jan 28, 2004 3:05 am

I doubt anybody here knows where Quebec is... :) Let alone know that French is spoken there. French in Louisiana too...? :wink: heh heh...
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Postby benissimus » Wed Jan 28, 2004 3:14 am

Cajun is hardly French... or English, but this is getting off topic :P
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Postby 1%homeless » Wed Jan 28, 2004 3:33 am

Hmm... I thought there was genuine French spoken there along with Cajun... Oh well... memory is going... I'm admitting defeat. :) Back to topic. :)

This was new to me:
GEN SING - every declension's genitive singular except 2nd decl. originally ended in S


Where did you get this info from? I'd like to investigate this further. Greek 1st fem declension does support your argument, but that leaves out 5th fem declension... not that I'm doubting you of course. :wink:
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Postby benissimus » Wed Jan 28, 2004 3:50 am

Ah, I forgot about the 5th declension, but I think in the parent language of Latin and Greek that all but one group of nouns had a genitive in -s. Latin's fifth declension originates from the first declension but picked up elements of other inflections.

Another memory aid would be that all declensions but the fifth have or can have identical genitive and nominative plural. Cursed uncooperative fifth declension! Also does not take into account neuters or vowel length.

1st decl. gen. sing. -ae nom. plur. -ae
2nd decl. gen. sing. -i nom. plur. -i
3rd decl. gen. sing. -is nom. plur. -is or -es
4th decl. gen. sing. -us nom. plur. -us
Last edited by benissimus on Mon Apr 05, 2004 3:54 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby 1%homeless » Wed Jan 28, 2004 4:30 am

Ah, I forgot about the 5th declension, but I think in the parent language of Latin and Greek that all but one group of nouns had a genitive in -s. Latin's fifth declension originates from the first declension but picked up elements of other inflections.


This sounds believable... but I think I might have to believe you since it's too much work to verify this. :)

That's a nifty pattern. But I think, I'm only going to bother to remember the simplest patterns because after a while you get overwhelmed with all these patterns. You should look at my verb charts. All these circles and lines. It looks like I am plotting military tactics.

Now I'm focusing on other mnemonic techniques. But it is painful though. I have to go through the entire latin dictionary (well not really entirely). It's not as easy as english where you get A for apple and B for bannana. What I'm doing is A for abdomen and B for bitumenis C for cervicali, etc. This is just an example for third declension neuter. I'm actually not going to use those words because I need to find the least abtract nouns for my ABC declension list. Then after that, I have to actually make a sentence for each word... I doubt I will ever finish this project... Verbs might be easier because I have 501 latin verbs and it has a list of 1000 or so verbs in the back... Too bad perseus doesn't have a search function for, say all fifth declension nouns and sort them in alphabetical order...

I guess another fun way to memorize declensions and conjugations is to compare inflections with other related languages....
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Postby Iulius Caesar » Sat Mar 06, 2004 11:35 pm

I just got to the third declension... at first i was scared out of my wits, and contemplated abandoning what seemed to be a futile undertaking... but i found a neat way to help you remember them. Ok, take a bunch of index cards or whatever... Write on 5 of them all the cases (exclude the nominative and vocative if you want). Then take some more cards and write down all the endings (-is, -ibus, etc, make sure to include the neuter endings too; singular and plural)... now take some 3rd declension nouns and write the stem onto some more cards (e.g virtut-). Ok now on a table line up all the case cards to the left and then take a stem. Then just randomly say to yourself a case, number, and gender. Then look through the endings and grab the card which you think is the right one. Just repeat this until you have endings for all the cases, and then check your work. Make sure whenever you put a stem to an ending, to say the word with the ending aloud. I did that with all the declensions and practiced doing it every day for a week (for about 15 minutes). Now i can identify any noun case, number, and gender in sentences. It worked so well that i make that my way of studying. It worked for me, give it a try. Good luck!
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Postby klewlis » Sun Mar 07, 2004 7:10 am

Iulius Caesar wrote:I just got to the third declension... at first i was scared out of my wits, and contemplated abandoning what seemed to be a futile undertaking... but i found a neat way to help you remember them. Ok, take a bunch of index cards or whatever... Write on 5 of them all the cases (exclude the nominative and vocative if you want). Then take some more cards and write down all the endings (-is, -ibus, etc, make sure to include the neuter endings too; singular and plural)... now take some 3rd declension nouns and write the stem onto some more cards (e.g virtut-). Ok now on a table line up all the case cards to the left and then take a stem. Then just randomly say to yourself a case, number, and gender. Then look through the endings and grab the card which you think is the right one. Just repeat this until you have endings for all the cases, and then check your work. Make sure whenever you put a stem to an ending, to say the word with the ending aloud. I did that with all the declensions and practiced doing it every day for a week (for about 15 minutes). Now i can identify any noun case, number, and gender in sentences. It worked so well that i make that my way of studying. It worked for me, give it a try. Good luck!


For those who are as lazy as I, it may be easier to download the small, free, lingua latina program, which drills you on your endings and such in this same fashion but by the click of a mouse. :)
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Postby Iulius Caesar » Sun Mar 07, 2004 5:40 pm

:wink: Or you could do that.
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Postby Cleo » Wed Mar 10, 2004 3:33 am

1%homeless wrote:I doubt anybody here knows where Quebec is... :) Let alone know that French is spoken there. French in Louisiana too...? :wink: heh heh...


hey! I resent that....

Cleo Montreal Quebec.
French speaker.
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Postby 1%homeless » Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:06 pm

Hehe, online reality is fuzzy. When I said "here", I meant here in my physical location and not people here in textkit. ;)
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