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Re: "Ii" for plural "Iris"

  • To: Multiple recipients of list <iris-l@rt66.com>
  • Subject: Re: "Ii" for plural "Iris"
  • From: "Jeff and Carolyn Walters" <cwalters@cache.net>
  • Date: Thu, 10 Apr 1997 07:24:43 -0600 (MDT)

Tom Little writes (9 April 97):

> Griff Crump's Latin is absolutely correct. However, the practice of
> "Ii." for the plural of "I." in species names is NOT derived presuming
> the Latin plural of "iris" ends in "-i". This is not a question of Latin
> inflection; it is a question of medieval orthography. There was once an
> established practice of indicating that an abbreviation was plural by
> simply duplicating the last letter of the abbreviation. This survives
> in English only in a few relics, such as "pp." for "pages" (plural of
> and "mss." for manuscripts (plural of "ms.").

Tom Little is also correct, except that the origin of this convention for
indicating the plural is not medieval, but Roman. At times when there were
two concurrent emperors, for example, a coin might bear the slogan
CONCORDIA AVGG an abbreviation of CONCORDIA AVGVSTI, meaning "good
relations between the Emperors" (political slogans had the same relation to
reality then as they do today).

Jeff Walters in northern Utah (Zone 4)
"This is the Place" - where Spring is still a wishful thought!  


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