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Biceps and Triceps

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Biceps and Triceps

Postby Lucus Eques » Sat Jun 14, 2008 2:07 am

I've been doing a good deal of working out lately, and referring to the muscles in the arms, so the terms "biceps" and "triceps" come up now and again. I've noticed that many are under the unfortunate impression that "bicep" or "tricep" is some sort of singular, when of course "biceps" is the nominative singular, genetive bicipitis, from bi + caput.

So, therefore the plural is either "bicipites" or "bicipita" — in English, since biceps is merely a Latin adjective, should we use the m/f or neuter plural form? I suppose musculi bicipites would justify the m/f form "bicipites" in English.

Quid putatis?
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Re: Biceps and Triceps

Postby Didymus » Sat Jun 14, 2008 4:05 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:So, therefore the plural is either "bicipites" or "bicipita" — in English, since biceps is merely a Latin adjective, should we use the m/f or neuter plural form? I suppose musculi bicipites would justify the m/f form "bicipites" in English.

Quid putatis?


I shall only observe that the plural is certainly not "bicipita." bicipitia, however, would be possible. On the merits or demerits of importing such plurals into English I offer no opinion.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Sat Jun 14, 2008 7:40 pm

Really? Can you remind me of the rule on that? I can think of plenty of neuter plural third declension adjectives with -ia ending, but is that true for all?
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Postby bedwere » Sat Jun 14, 2008 7:54 pm

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Postby Alatius » Sat Jun 14, 2008 9:36 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:Really? Can you remind me of the rule on that? I can think of plenty of neuter plural third declension adjectives with -ia ending, but is that true for all?

(I'm reading from my grammar as I write this.) "All" adjectives of the third declension are declined as the i-stems (e.g. puppis), except that the m. and f. acc. sing. end in -em, not -im. Thus abl. sing. in -Ä«, gen. pl. in -ium, and neut. nom. pl. in -ia.

There are exceptions, namely dīves, pauper, prīnceps, pūbēs, senex and vetus. However, all of these, except the last, lack a neuter plural. That leaves "vetera" as the sole counter example.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Sat Jun 14, 2008 9:56 pm

What about Principia Mathematica ?

Awesome, got it, thanks.

Then, what's the consensus? "Bicipites" or "bicipitia" ?
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Postby Alatius » Sat Jun 14, 2008 10:50 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:What about Principia Mathematica ?

In the title "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica", "principia" is a noun, and "mathematica" the adjective.

Then, what's the consensus? "Bicipites" or "bicipitia" ?

I must admit I prefer "biceps" as the English plural, but if I have to choose, I'd say "bicipites" based on the same reasoning you adduce.
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Postby Essorant » Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:56 am

Good luck with your twoheads (bicipites) and your threeheads (tricipites). I'm sure you will impress all the ladies with your mouselings (musculi) :)<pre></pre>
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Postby adrianus » Sun Jun 15, 2008 8:49 am

Salve Luci
As Alatius says, "biceps" is like "grouse" in English where the singular and plural forms are the same. (Same with certain other 'foreign' words "grouse", "trout", "cod", "brace", "dozen", "gross" or Anglo Saxon neuters "deer", "sheep", "swine" which had the same form in the plural, and "species" is the same lettering in both English and Latin singular and plurals.) Nothing stopping you using the Latin plural "musculi bicipites (brachii)" in English, of course, or "bicipites", as you say.
Ut dicit Alatius, "biceps" verbum Anglicè "grouse" verbo simile est, ut aequum utrisque verbum est numeri singulis et numeri pluralis. (Idem est quod ad alia verba quoddam et mutuata.)

As Bedwere says, the neuter substantive meaning of "biceps" has a grammatical meaning ("Two consecutive short positions before a princeps"). So "bicipitia" is out, indeed.
Ut dicit Bedwere, verbum "biceps" generis neutri (plurali numeri "bicipitia") sensum grammaticum habet. Exim, de musculis dicendo, "bicipitia" audire nolimus.
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