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[Fwd: Re: Iris Books]

  • To: Multiple recipients of list <iris-l@rt66.com>
  • Subject: [Fwd: Re: Iris Books]
  • From: "J. Griffin Crump" <jgcrump@erols.com>
  • Date: Tue, 8 Apr 1997 19:41:33 -0600 (MDT)

Message-ID: <3349BAF7.3B5A@erols.com>
Date: Mon, 07 Apr 1997 20:26:47 -0700
From: "J. Griffin Crump" <jgcrump@erols.com>
Reply-To: jgcrump@erols.com
X-Mailer: Mozilla 3.01C-KIT  (Win16; I)
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To: iris-l@rt66.com
Subject: Re: Iris Books
References: <970227200226_106714204@emout07.mail.aol.com>
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CEMahan@aol.com wrote:
> . . .   I have seen the abbreviation "Ii." used in front of a
>  series of iris species names to preclude having to use the "I." in front of
> each name.  I used this in an article I recently wrote, and the editor doubts
> its usage.  Now, I have searched in vain my botanical latin books, but can
> find no authority . . .
> (I won my argument with the editor over use of the form "I. albertii" instead
> of "I. Albertii---Hortus 3 was her source, but I cited decision to use lower
> case for all species names which are latinized versions of peoples
> names---but alas, I can find no authority for the "Ii.") 

Clarence -- If you ever got a definitive answer to your question, I
missed it, so am responding now. First, let me congratulate you on
winning one with the editor! As a class, they have an annoying habit of
being right, even if only by being dubious. In the case of our goddess,
Iris, I am afraid your editor wins this one. The "i" plural form is
appropriate for Latin nouns of the second declension, whose singular
form ends in "us". Thus, "globus" (globe) becomes "globi" (globes), and
"gladius" (sword) becomes "gladii" (swords). But "Iris" is an irregular
Latin noun (probably because the Romans adopted her from the Greeks)
grouped with nouns of the THIRD declension. The problem in determining
her plural form is that she is unique. The Romans liked their gods
multiple, but not plural. Thus, like Jupiter (Iuppiter) and all the
rest, she has no plural form per se. But let us suppose that Virgil
liked her so well that he thought there should be two of her. How would
he have expressed the plural? Almost all third declension nouns have
"es" as the nominative plural ending. Would he have said "Ires"? Or
would it have been dictated by the radical change of form found in the
genitive (possessive) case of "Iris", i.e., "Iridis"? -- in which case,
the plural might have been "Irides". But in either case, since we are in
the realm of never-never land, I think you could not go wrong with "Is".

Griff Crump, who survived six years of Latin, and hated every minute of
it, because it was taught as a dead language!  jgcrump@erols.com

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