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  • Latin Plurals

    October 27th, 2012
    ling  [html]
    Many English words are borrowed from Latin, where they took a different plural. I'm interested in the most common case where we use the Latin plural "-um/-a". While most English speakers, now and historically, have never known Latin, I'm not sure whether these are generally learned all as a exceptions or as a rule for words ending in "-um". What nouns are consistently used in the plural with the Latin-style '-a' as opposed to the English-style '-ums'? From currently Latin-dominant to currently English-dominant (as of 2000), with the year being when it switched styles if there is one.
    flagellums, flagella n/a
    equilibriums, equilibria n/a
    mediums, media n/a
    millenniums, millennia 1935 (E-L)
    scriptoriums, scriptoria n/a
    vomitoriums, vomitoria n/a
    colloquiums, colloquia n/a
    dictums, dicta n/a
    atriums, atria n/a
    maximums, maxima n/a
    imperiums, imperia n/a
    continuums, continua n/a
    symposiums, symposia n/a
    consortiums, consortia n/a
    cerebellums, cerebella n/a
    honorariums, honoraria n/a
    crematoriums, crematoria n/a
    sanatariums, sanataria n/a
    minimums, minima n/a
    opprobriums, opprobria n/a
    compendiums, compendia 1945 (E-L)
    podiums, podia n/a
    decorums, decora 1855 (E-L)
    moratoriums, moratoria n/a
    sanatoriums, sanatoria n/a
    cerebrums, cerebra n/a
    referendums, referenda n/a
    arboretums, arboreta n/a
    emporiums, emporia 1952 (E-L)
    solariums, solaria 1975 (L-E)
    gymnasiums, gymnasia 1912 (L-E)
    terrariums, terraria 1953 (L-E)
    stadiums, stadia 1986 (L-E)
    aquariums, aquaria 1988 (L-E)
    auditoriums, auditoria 1885 (L-E)
    forums, fora 1925 (L-E)
    prosceniums, proscenia 1920 (L-E)
    planetariums, planetaria n/a
    ultimatums, ultimata 1902 (L-E)
    pandemoniums, pandemonia n/a
    condominiums, condominia n/a
    premiums, premia n/a
    museums, musea n/a
    geraniums, gerania n/a
    nasturtiums, nasturtia n/a
    I'm leaving off words like "agenda" and "data" which are commonly used as singular. Also words like "hoodlum" and "harmonium" which aren't Latin, and words where the plural doesn't make much sense ("cesium", "Belgium").


    [1] This varies by topic. If I'm buying shirts I might be looking for "the mediums" but in complaining about campaign coverage I would blame "the media".

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