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3rd -us neuters in Romance (was: Worse Greek 102 (was: Bad Latin 101))

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Sunday, February 4, 2001, 14:23
At 7:11 pm -0800 3/2/01, Jesse Bangs wrote:
>> Of course in Vulgar Latin it is quite clear that there was a drift of >> commonly used 3rd neuters to the second declension, e.g. >> >> LATIN FRENCH SPANISH PORT. ITALIAN ROMANIAN >> tempus, temps tiempo tempo tempo tempu >> temporis >> >> corpus, corps cuerpo corpo corpo ?? >> corporis >> >> Fraid I don't know the Romanian for "body". > >Romanian for "time" is actually 'timp', and "body" is 'corp'.
>I'm not >sure where you saw 'tempu,' although it's a plausible form for very >archaic Old Romanian.
Probably a typo.
>Interestingly, Romanian preserved the neuter gender and generalized from >these nouns to create its neuter plural ending -uri. The process began >with the replacement of the neuter plural endings with feminine plural >endings, so that the plural of 'corpus' was something like 'corpores' >instead of the proper Latin 'corpora.' Normal sound changes working on >'corpores' turned it into 'corpuri,' and the resulting pairs >'corp/corpuri' and 'timp/timpuri' were generalized. This has become the >productive class for monosyllabic neuter nouns and foreign words, so the >modern Romanian plural of 'taxi' is 'taxiuri'!
Doh! I once knew that - thanks for reminding me. I guess I must've been tired when I typed the above. Yep - the Romance forms in fact show mixt treatment of the those two Latin neuters. Old French (and modern French spelling) retains singular forms derived from the 3rd neuters which in the VL of the west would be /tEmpos/ and /cOrpos/ respectively, ie. having the same ending as a 2nd decl. acc. plural; and it seems that this was, indeed, used also as an acc. plural, giving rise to _indeclinable_ nouns, thus in Old French: SINGULAR PLURAL SINGULAR PLURAL Nominative tens tens cors cors Oblique tens tens cors cors (The -p- in the modern spellings 'temps' and 'corps' are merely etymological restorations which have never been pronounced) Spanish, Portuguese & Italian show forms derived from the complete assimilation of 'tempus' and 'corpus' as regular 2nd declensions masculines. Romanian, as Jesse rightly reminded me, retained these as 3rd neuters, giving rise to 'timp/timpuri' and 'corp/corpori'. ....which is a more interesting than the bland one I'd was suggesting. Ray. ========================================= A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language. [J.G. Hamann 1760] =========================================