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Can we predict noun stems?

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Can we predict noun stems?

Postby Jacobus » Tue Apr 28, 2009 8:21 pm

Salvete, omnes.

I am well aware that I've had a similar thread about noun stems before. Is it possible to predict (at least some?) third declination noun stems by looking at words in English or otherwise which derive from the Latin word? Possible examples and stem guesses include the following:

Latin Nominative Latin stem English derivative

Leo leon lion

Declinatio declination declination

Cor cord cardiology (or similar derivants)

Pulmo pulmon pulmonary

Just an observation which is probably no real revelation, but it'd be nice to read what everyone thinks of this.

Gratias multas.

Jack
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Re: Can we predict noun stems?

Postby modus.irrealis » Tue Apr 28, 2009 11:24 pm

I think it works, as long as you make sure the English word comes directly from Latin and not through some other source -- it may may end up being as much work, though, as just memorizing the genitive (I've tried using English words to predict the vowel length in Latin words and it helps and doesn't help, if you know what I mean). For example, with lion, which seems to have come through French, you get the "n" but how do you know that the vowel change didn't occur in Latin. Because with nomen, nominal helps you remember the stem is nomin-. Cardiology represents another difficulty, since that word comes from Greek, so that's why you have the "a" in "cardi". Maybe "cordial" would work for Latin.
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Re: Can we predict noun stems?

Postby Jacobus » Wed Apr 29, 2009 1:11 am

Thanks for your reply. Okay, so my knowledge of where the English words actually come from is a little shabby, but do you think that the words which I picked just worked out of coincidence? Clearly you know far more Latin than I do; do you see this sort of pattern working with words other than the meagre isolated cases I've picked out?

Thanks again,

Jack
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Re: Can we predict noun stems?

Postby thesaurus » Wed Apr 29, 2009 5:39 am

Jacobus wrote:Thanks for your reply. Okay, so my knowledge of where the English words actually come from is a little shabby, but do you think that the words which I picked just worked out of coincidence? Clearly you know far more Latin than I do; do you see this sort of pattern working with words other than the meagre isolated cases I've picked out?


There is a definite pattern, if at times unreliable. I don't worry to much about false matches, because you can't help but use all the tools you've got to learn Latin vocabulary, and English is your #1 resource. I figure out new Latin words (and their stems) all the time through inference, and it's something you'll get better at after you've been doing it longer. Some stems easier than others.

An example of how it might help you figure out two different stems where the nominative ends with "x":
Trux, trucis, truculent
Rex, regis, regal/regicide
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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Re: Can we predict noun stems?

Postby modus.irrealis » Wed Apr 29, 2009 5:57 pm

Jacobus wrote:Thanks for your reply. Okay, so my knowledge of where the English words actually come from is a little shabby, but do you think that the words which I picked just worked out of coincidence? Clearly you know far more Latin than I do; do you see this sort of pattern working with words other than the meagre isolated cases I've picked out?

No, I wasn't trying to say it's just a coincidence -- Latin stems appears in derivative words and many of these have been borrowed into English, so I do think it would work (English is also useful for learning the principal parts of verbs, especially the past participle). I just wanted to point out that there are some tricky cases, and it was just bad luck on your part that 50% of your examples weren't perfect. If you had a longer list, that number would be much lower.

I can see it being helpful. But I imagine you'll soon be using your Latin knowledge as much as your English knowledge for this sort of thing. So to use thesaurus's example you can also know it's rex > reg- from the Latin words regalis, which you might learn more easily because of the English word regal, so it's all connected in the end anyway.
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Re: Can we predict noun stems?

Postby Kasper » Fri May 01, 2009 12:25 am

I have nothing to add to the above response, except perhaps a warning that eventually you will need to stop trying to understand latin through reference to english. You must at some point learn latin as a stand alone language, not english in code.

That said, for a beginner it does seem a usable idea.
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”
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Re: Can we predict noun stems?

Postby adrianus » Fri May 01, 2009 11:03 am

I think you're mostly right, Kasper. Let me add this, though.

I'm no longer a complete beginner, yet far from being expert, but here's something I find very useful for expanding my understanding of Latin: a knowledge of the history of the English language, the influence of Latin words and grammar on it, and the Oxford English Dictionary. Because I'm not a native or fluent Latin speaker and can never be, it is through models of change in English (and French, as my only other language) when the Latin was very influential that I imagine I can better get into the heads of Latin writers of the later periods,—and project this onto the Roman mind, if I have to. It's one path, certainly not the only path, at times helpful. I've come to use the Oxford English Dictionary quite a lot to uncover late Latin words with connections to Romance languages that I haven't found anywhere else (not in Du Cange, say). I'd love to be able to run through OED and strip out all that information about late Latin words, but in the meantime, I'm happy to browse and sometimes find answers to questions. It's (amateur) comparative philology.

Majore parte, Kasper, rectè dicis, ut credo. Hoc autem addam.

Non jam tyro sum, longè quidem absum ut peritus sim. Eccunt autem res quas perutiles habeo ad scientiam meam augescendam de Latino: historiae linguae anglicae et motûs latinorum verborum grammaticaeque in eam linguam scientia, et dictionarium Oxford English Dictionary nomine. Fluidè, indigenè latinè loqui non possum nec unquàm potero, eâ ratione est per exemplaria mutationum anglicé cùm jam gravis erat latinae vis linguae quòd, ut imaginor, sympathiam scriptoribus latinis serioribus creo,—et idem in mentem classicam impono, si debet. Una, certò non sola, est via, interdùm directiva. Non rarò evenit me OED dictionario uti ut vocabulos aevi serii latinos linguis romanicis connexis reperiam, quae aliis fontibus (ut ille Du Cange auctoris) carent. Me omnes locos illo in dictionario ad vocabulos latinos pertinentes extrahere, id facere desideram. Interibi autem, contentus sum ut librum carpam et interdùm responsa quaestionibus inveniam. Philologia comparativa (et voluptarii cultoris) est.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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