Re: Viri? -- no such thing!

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 14645
Date: 2002-08-28

The fourth "exceptional" neuter is <ce:tus>, pl. <ce:te:>, a Greek word like <pelagos> (the pl. of which could also be <pelage:>). The other two (<vi:rus> and <vulgus>) were once ordinary s-neuters (like <genus> or <corpus>) that became attracted into the second declension, acquiring its case endings in the singular (the gen. <vi:ri:> is attested only once!), except for the unchanged acc. (as expected of neuters). As both are mass nouns, they virtually lack the plural, and indeed no plural is attested anywhere in Classical Latin. We owe the _artificial ending_ <-i:> to the horror vacui of dictionary makers.
To sum up, since <vi:ri:> is not even an authentic Latin plural, everyone should feel free to regularise it in English.
----- Original Message -----
From: danjmi
Sent: Wednesday, August 28, 2002 4:11 AM
Subject: [tied] Re: substratums

       I thought I had the answer to the question as to why we don't
see the Latin plural of "virus" used -- that it is fourth declension
so the nom. pl. is spelled like the nom. sing.   But wrong again!
        Checking my Allen & Greenough Latin grammar, I find it's
second declension.  But my vague memory of something odd
was right -- "virus", with "vulgus" (usually) and "pelagus" are
neuter rather than masculine.

"Pelagus" is Greek, but what's the explanation for the anomaly
with "virus" and "vulgus"?

Dan Milton