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The stem of Latin nouns

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The stem of Latin nouns

Postby Jacobus » Fri Mar 13, 2009 12:26 pm

Salvete,

I have been reading through a thread on here asking about declining Latin nouns, which goes into talking about the stem of Latin nouns. Thanks to the explanation on that thread, I can now find the stem of a Latin noun; my problem with Latin nouns, or one of them, is that I don't actually know why you need to know the stem at all. Perhaps it's something to do with the nouns I keep coming across which just seem to add letters in places I can't explain. Come to think of it, according to the grammar I'm using from the list on this site (Latin for Beginners, Benjamin L. D'Ooge), the nouns which are confusing me all seem to be from the third declination.

For example:

miles, militis, milite, militem, milite.
milites, militum, militibus, milites, militibus.

tempus, temporis, tempori, tempor, tempore.
tempora, temporum, temporibus, tempora, temporibus.

Looking at it, the nominative singular form is slightly different from the other forms, but other than that the spelling stays quite consistent. Does this basically mean learn the nominative singular and the "stem"? Does that then solve the question of why the stem is needed?

Any confirmation or clarification would be great. Gratias multas, gratiam habeo.

Jack
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Re: The stem of Latin nouns

Postby paulusnb » Fri Mar 13, 2009 3:14 pm

Jacobus wrote:my problem with Latin nouns, or one of them, is that I don't actually know why you need to know the stem at all.


Of i-stems, Allen and GReenough say "The i-declension was confused even to the Romans themselves, nor was it stable at all periods of the language, early Latin having i-forms which afterwards disappeared."

Let me word this carefully so I do not offend the Latin gods. There are not many textbooks that I know of that ask the student to memorize stems. All 1st declension nouns are a-stems. All 2nd are o-stems. So, if you know the declension of 1st and 2nd declension nouns you are golden on their stem. Third declension is a little tricky. There are consonant stems and i-stems. There are rules for identifying i-stems. These are somewhat complicated and not 100% effective. (with that said, I believe that three or four rules covers 90% of all i-stems). You do not need to memorize them if you are satisfied with simply recognizing an i-stem noun when you see one. If you must know the rhyme and the reason, do not take our word for it. Download Allen and GReenough's New Latin Grammar and consult the long section on third declension.

My advice would be to not hit your head against a wall over this. But hey, if you are ready, you are ready.

Here is a link to Allen and GReenough. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/pt ... ad%3D%2335
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Re: The stem of Latin nouns

Postby Jacobus » Fri Mar 13, 2009 3:24 pm

paulusnb wrote:If you must know the rhyme and the reason, do not take our word for it. Download Allen and GReenough's New Latin Grammar and consult the long section on third declension.


Thanks for the advice, Paul. The beauty of my situation is that I am not working to any kind of time limit; I am learning Latin because I want to, and not because I need to make up credits here at uni. So I will grapple with the rules and eventually understand them. Thanks for the pointers. The first and second declensions do seem fairly simple, and I haven't looked at the fourth or fifth yet; I will see when I get there.

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Re: The stem of Latin nouns

Postby paulusnb » Fri Mar 13, 2009 6:04 pm

4th declension is -u stem and 5th is -e. 4th and 5th are fairly simple.

1) There are not that many 4th and fifth declension words.

2) the ones that exist are so common (senatus, dies) that they cause no trouble.
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Re: The stem of Latin nouns

Postby paulusnb » Fri Mar 13, 2009 6:15 pm

Jacobus wrote:Looking at it, the nominative singular form is slightly different from the other forms, but other than that the spelling stays quite consistent. Does this basically mean learn the nominative singular and the "stem"? Does that then solve the question of why the stem is needed?



Sorry to keep responding. But, having reread your original post, I feel I did not completely answer your question.

By "stem" I mean the genitive plural minus -um or -rum. The base is the genitive minus the genitive ending. So, the base of puella is puell while the stem is puella.

For all nouns, you should memorize the nominative singular, the genitive singular, and the gender (though you can squeak by without gender). The rules for 3rd declension i-stem are extra credit :D .

For 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th, memorizing the stem does not give you more non-specialist knowledge of inflection than the genitive.

Third declension is the most common declension and the most irregular. The nominative seems completely random (though there are some explanations of this). Because of its irregularity, it is most important to memorize the genitives of 3rd declension. You can squeak by with 1st because they are pretty regular, but the third will bring you back to Jesus.
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Re: The stem of Latin nouns

Postby Jacobus » Fri Mar 13, 2009 7:38 pm

Thank you for the additional explanation, but now I have another question. What is the significance of there being both a stem and a base? I recognise that it's fairly easy to decline first declination nouns, as well as second. I will have to just assume that fourth and fifth aren't too much trouble, as I haven't encountered them yet. It is common sense that the third declination would be the largest and most common group, as that's the consonant group, but why are "i stems" so difficult in particular? Would you mind giving me an example? Even though I may not entirely understand the concept, just the complexity of it will fascinate me, as I like complicated :)

Gratias maximas ob auxillium et respondum, Paule (would that be the vocative of your name?)

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Re: The stem of Latin nouns

Postby paulusnb » Fri Mar 13, 2009 9:23 pm

Jacobus wrote:Thank you for the additional explanation, but now I have another question. What is the significance of there being both a stem and a base?


I don't know how to speak to its significance. It just is. These are patterns, and "stem" and "base" are the words we use to identify the patterns.

Jacobus wrote:but why are "i stems" so difficult in particular?


Are you asking me why students have trouble or why i-stems exist? There is no grammatical way to explain "difficult." 3rd declension is more "diverse."

Allen and Greenough (you should buy the book) say this


"Nouns of the Third Declension end in a, e, ī, ō, y, c, l, n, r, s, t, x.

Stems of the Third Declension are classed as follows:--

I. Consonant Stems a. Mute stems. b. Liquid and Nasal stems.

II. I-Stems a. Pure i-stems. b. Mixed i-stems.

The Nominative is always derived from the stem.

The variety in form in the Nominative is due to simple modi fications of the stem, of which the most important are--

* Combination of final consonants: as of c (or g) and s to form x; dux, ducis, stem duc-; rēx, rēgis, stem rēg-.
* Omission of a final consonant: as of a final nasal; leō, leōnis, stem leōn-; ōrātiō, ōrātiōnis, stem ōrātiōn-.
* Omission of a final vowel: as of final i; calcar, calcāris, stem calcāri-.
* Change of vowel in the final syllable : as of a toe; prīnceps (for -caps), prīncipis, stem prīncip- (for -cap-). [p. 25]"


Here are 3 i-stem rules (there are more, again in Greenough). I can't speak to their being difficult. They just exists whereas the same does not apply for 1st and 2nd declension.

• All neuters with nom. sing. in –al, -ar, or –e are i-stems. Eg. animal, animal-is. Gen.
pl. = animalium. And they end in –ia in the nom. pl.
• Masculine & feminine nouns ending in –is or –ēs in the nom. sing, when the gen.
singular has the same number of syllables. Eg.: civis, civ-is. Gen. pl. = civium.
• Masculine & feminine nouns with nominatives in –s or –x, when the stem ends in
two consonants. Eg.: mons, mont-is (mountain). Gen. pl. = montium. But the stem of
rex, reg-is doesn't end in two consonants, so gen. pl. = regum.
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Re: The stem of Latin nouns

Postby Jacobus » Sat Mar 14, 2009 1:27 pm

Gratias maximas, Paule.

Multas gratias ob responda et auxillium. Gratiam habeo ob admonitio de libro.

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Re: The stem of Latin nouns

Postby ptolemyauletes » Mon Mar 16, 2009 7:58 pm

Hi.
I'll add my bit here if it helps.
As said, the stem of a noun needs to be learned for a few reasons. One is so that you are able to recognise a noun in an altered form. The other is so that you can correctly determine its declension, hence its number, case and gender and therefore its use on the sentence.

Dictionaries note nouns as follows:
singular nominative, followed by singular genitive.

This will virtually WITHOUT EXCEPTION enable you to determine the declension of a noun.

1st declension puella, puellae
2nd declension servus, servi and templum, templi
3rd declension mercator, mercatoris
4th declension manus, manus
5th declension dies, dies


Now, why is this important? Here is an example of the confusion that can occur without knowing the declension.

Take three words

servus
tempus
manus

servus is from 'servus, servi' and according to our knowledge of these noun forms it can only be nominative singular.
tempus is from 'tempus, temporis' and according to our knowledge of these noun forms it too can only be nominative singular - except that it is neuter - so it can also be accusative.
manus is from 'manus, manus' and according to our knowledge of these noun forms it can be nominative singular, genitive singular, or accusative plural.
See why this is important?

Also, knowing for example that 'tempus' is 3rd declension will prevent you from creating non-existent forms such as tempo, or tempi, on the analogy of servo, servi.

If I have the time or can find it I will post a handy sheet I made up on nouns and recognising gender.

Hope this helps
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Re: The stem of Latin nouns

Postby Jacobus » Mon Mar 16, 2009 10:21 pm

Gratias maximas ob explicatum tuum, ptolemyauletes; gratiam habeo ob respondum. Explicatus tres utilis est.

If you do have time to look for the chart you mentioned, that would be a great help, thank you. I will continue to absorb noun declinations through Lingua Latina, although I do admit that I need the help of a traditional grammar once in a while, hence why I sometimes ask for clarification here.

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Re: The stem of Latin nouns

Postby Diaphanus » Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:53 am

ptolemyauletes wrote:Hi.
I'll add my bit here if it helps.
As said, the stem of a noun needs to be learned for a few reasons. One is so that you are able to recognise a noun in an altered form. The other is so that you can correctly determine its declension, hence its number, case and gender and therefore its use on the sentence.

Yes, and I know of another reason that the stem of a noun needs to be learned.

If you are into the creation of new words (verbificium, as I call it), then the stem of a noun needs to be known because, technically, "real" compound words (such as stellifer) are combinations of stems, and suffixes are added to the stems of words.

So:

  • stella, "star," stem stella- + ferre, "to bear," stem fer- -> stelli- + fer- + -o- -> stellifer, "star-bearing," new stem stellifero-

  • puella, "girl," stem puella- + -ula, diminutive suffix, stem -ula- -> puell- + -ula- -> puellula, "little girl," new stem puellula-
Salve! Verbifex sum quia creatio verborum latinorum novorum mihi placet!
MEMA INTERRETIALIA
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Re: The stem of Latin nouns

Postby ptolemyauletes » Tue Mar 17, 2009 7:18 pm

I will definitely keep an eye out for that chart I spoke of. I created it still remembering my own frustrations and questions when trying to work all this stuff out. Traditional Latin grammars often assume understanding of things that seem obvious, but aren't.
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Re: The stem of Latin nouns

Postby Jacobus » Tue Mar 17, 2009 8:02 pm

Diaphanus wrote:If you are into the creation of new words (verbificium, as I call it), then the stem of a noun needs to be known because, technically, "real" compound words (such as stellifer) are combinations of stems, and suffixes are added to the stems of words.


Thanks for pointing that out, Diaphanus - that's a very interesting point I hadn't even given a thought to.

ptolemyauletes wrote:Traditional Latin grammars often assume understanding of things that seem obvious, but aren't.


This is precisely why I don't use them unless I really don't know where to turn. So far, for the most part, Lingua Latina has been enough to go by. Saying that, I'm only on chapter twelve, and things, I'm sure, will become a lot more complicated.

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