Words are my world as a writer. I’m always working to build my vocabulary and hone my word use.
A recent blog post from Writing Tips, “The Vicissitudes of the Latin Plural in English” fascinated me.
Not because of the Latin. My knowledge of Latin is limited to “Et Tu, Brute” and “El Pluribus Union.”
What intrigued me was the evolution of Latin words and their plurals.
When the English-speaking curriculum included the study of Latin, the Latin plurals for words were standard. Nowadays, not so much. Use has changed their use. Imagine coming across any of these Latin words when you’re reading today.
|Latin Singulars||Latin Plurals|
|Formulae for formula||Octopodes for octopus|
|Agendum for agenda||Encyclopediae for encyclopedias|
|Hippopotami for hippopotamus||Dogmata for dogmas|
|Alumnus for alumni||Stigmata for stigmatas|
Don’t know about you, but I’d stumble if I read any of those in something I was reading.
Fortunately, language is always changing to suit the comfort of the people who speak it according to the blog. Whichever word sounds “less English” is dropped.
That’s why words like data are accepted as either singular or plural. Other words like medium and media, the plural, have taken on new and different meanings.
Media in today’s use refers to methods of communication such as newspapers, television, radio, and film. The word medium can be the material used by an artist to produce an artistic creation or any method for doing something.
Latin singulars and plurals are mostly found only in a scientific or academic context.
I can understand why. Can’t you?