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third declension i-stem rules

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third declension i-stem rules

Postby Cyborg » Sat May 28, 2005 1:09 am

How to find out if a third declension noun has i-stem?
I've gathered the following from several Latin Grammar books, including some e-books from the "learn latin" section here.

a 3rd declension noun has i-stem if:
1) parisyllabic nouns in -is or -es, e.g. ciuis, -is ; nubes, -is. exceptions: canis, panis, iuuenis.
2) imparisyllabic nouns, with genitive's -is preceeded by more than one consonant, e.g. ars, artis ; nox, noctis.
3) neuter nouns ending in -e, -al, -ar; e.g. mare, animal, exemplar. exceptions: sal.
4) some others:
anas, anatis - duck
dos, dotis - dowry
fraus, fraudis - fraud
fur, furis - thief
glis, gliris - dormouse
lis, litis - lawsuit
mas, maris - male
mus, muris - mouse
nix, niuis - snow
strix, strigis - grove (doesn't seem Classical)
uis, uiris - strength



Would anyone be interested in correcting me or adding some other necessary rule or any other exception? Or isn't this feasible?

I was thinking of something like this (click), mutatis mutandis, but since there seems to be a way to elaborate accurate rules, the list would only be a list of exceptions to the rules.
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Re: third declension i-stem rules

Postby benissimus » Mon May 30, 2005 1:47 am

There are an enormous number of partial i-stems in the third declension and many of them have variable case endings depending on the period or whim of the author, so compiling a full list would be a difficult task. Even listing the exceptions would be tricky since often a word may have, for example, an i-stem genitive plural and occasionally not. Another thing to remember is that a 3rd declension adjective (most of which are pure i-stem) used substantively as a noun is an i-stem noun.

a 3rd declension noun has i-stem if:
1) parisyllabic nouns in -is or -es, e.g. ciuis, -is ; nubes, -is. exceptions: canis, panis, iuuenis.

It is worth noting that all masc/fem pure i-stems fall into this category, besides the four ending in -er: imber, linter, uter, and uenter.

2) imparisyllabic nouns, with genitive's -is preceded by more than one consonant, e.g. ars, artis ; nox, noctis.

cliens [client(i)um] is occasionally an exception.

3) neuter nouns ending in -e, -al, -ar; e.g. mare, animal, exemplar. exceptions: sal.

sal is no exception because it is not a neuter noun.

4) some others:
anas, anatis - duck
dos, dotis - dowry
fraus, fraudis - fraud
fur, furis - thief
glis, gliris - dormouse
lis, litis - lawsuit
mas, maris - male
mus, muris - mouse
nix, niuis - snow
strix, strigis - grove (doesn't seem Classical)
uis, uiris - strength

A lot of these would so rarely be used in the genitive plural (or even in the plural at all) that it is hard to say. uis should be obvious since it has the ablative singular -i.


Something important to understand about i-stems that is rarely ever mentioned is why they are called "i-stem". It is not because of a set of rules that these nouns utilize special endings (though those rules are useful in practice); i-stem nouns use the same 3rd declension endings as all other 3rd declension nouns, it is just that their stem ends in a vowel rather than a consonant, causing certain anomalies.

For example, a "normal" 3rd declension noun such as rex, called a consonant stem (or more specifically a mute stem) for the final letter of its stem, reg-. To the stem you add the regular endings -s, -is, -i, -em, -e, -es, -um, -ibus, -es, -ibus.

Typical reasoning says that with an i-stem like ignis, the stem is ign-. To that stem you add different endings than you would to a non i-stem: -is, -is, -i, -em, -i, -es, -ium, -ibus, -es (-is), -ibus. In reality, the stem is igni-, hence its name as an i-stem; when you combine igni- and -um you get the genitive plural ignium, no different from combining reg- and -um to get regum. You can add -s to igni- or reg- to get the nominative singular, so once again i-stems do not differ from consonant stems. In the same way, you can think of maria as being mari + a instead of the less accurate mar + ia.

I believe that thinking of i-stems in this way, as having the same endings as consonant stems, is a much better approach and more appropriate than regarding them as irregular.

There are a few complications though, when the case ending begins in a vowel other than u there is contraction or omission of a letter. igni+is = ignis, igni+i = igni, igni + ibus = ignibus. Admitting to contraction occurring regularly in Latin declension might just tarnish its reputation of being a neat and orderly language however. :)
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Postby Cyborg » Mon May 30, 2005 2:31 am

benissimus wrote:There are an enormous number of partial i-stems in the third declension and many of them have variable case endings depending on the period or whim of the author, so compiling a full list would be a difficult task. Even listing the exceptions would be tricky since often a word may have, for example, an i-stem genitive plural and occasionally not. Another thing to remember is that a 3rd declension adjective (most of which are pure i-stem) used substantively as a noun is an i-stem noun.

So I ask you, who is well informed about the subject: do those 3 rules I gathered from books really cover this enormous number of i-stem nouns well? Are there like 4 or 5 exceptions to them, or more like dozens? Or are there none? Do you know better rules, is there a "perfect" set of rules that always work? If there isn't, that's what I'd like to do. A short list of exceptions wouldn't make the set imperfect.

You see, I don't need to compile a full list of i-stem nouns, but I would really sleep more soundly if there were a way to categorize them, under a set of rules.

So, please, tell me: are those excellent rules? I won't like them if they're only so-so. ;)
There must be a way, I think to myself. It cannot be really that hard if we only want words from a given period (Classical) of a language...
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Postby benissimus » Mon May 30, 2005 3:02 am

As I said, those rules are very handy in actual use. There must be exceptions simply because the last letter of a noun's stem is not something that is methodically chosen. The rules are certainly solid enough to justify the relatively few exceptions. Actual i-stems are what is hard to predict, but the majority of partial i-stems are formed on analogy with actual i-stems and are easier to predict. Most of the rules make quite a bit of sense as well. For example, it is a fact that neuter nouns with nominative in -e, -al, and -ar are a very good way of identifying i-stems because -al and -ar are really short for -ale and -are; -e, -al(e), and -ar(e) have an e that is really a weakened i of the stem. Nominatives in -is are another good indicator because the nominative case ending s is clearly preceded by an i, meaning that the stem probably ends in i. My previous post was not an attempt to derail the rules (in fact it supports them), but more an explanation for the existence of i-stems.
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Postby Cyborg » Mon May 30, 2005 3:10 am

benissimus wrote:My previous post was not an attempt to derail the rules (in fact it supports them), but more an explanation for the existence of i-stems.

I understand, and it was a very fine and informative post, by the way.
Thank you so much for the time, it really cleared things up for me.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Wed Jun 01, 2005 3:06 am

This is barely relates at all, I'm afraid, but it suddenly occurred to me that the Latin words for "mouse" and "wall" are remarkably similar:

murus, muri, muro, murum, muro
muri, murorum, muris, muros, muris

mus, muris, muri, murem, mure
mures, murium, muribus, mures, muribus

Now, I realize the length of the 'i' in the highlighted forms above is not the same between the two words; it is long in the dative and ablative of murus and short in the genitive of mus. Conditioned by a boiling-pot language like our English, we are discouraged by habit from the possibility of homonyms having a related origin (although even though it is not so apparent, oftentimes a related origin actually does exist); however, is it conceivable that these two Latin words find a common origin? A mouse lives in a wall, after all. And doesn't it make sense that a mouse be named something like "from the walls"?

Gratias ago mille si uos auxilium mihi offerre possitis.
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Postby benissimus » Wed Jun 01, 2005 3:24 am

I doubt it, since mus is obviously cognate with other IE words (e.g. mouse, [face=SPIonic]muj[/face]), it could not have been named after the word for a wall (not unless prior to the development of Latin anyways). It seems unlikely then that they would have named the wall after the mouse. There is also the archaic English mere, meaning "a boundary", probably cognate to murus, moerus, and moenia. So it doesn't look like either mu(r)s or murus could have derived from the other in the Latin period, or even in the PIE period. Perhaps Nostratic is the place to look.
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