curriculum vitae (plural)

Discussion in 'English Only' started by merquiades, Nov 1, 2010.

  1. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    Hello everyone,

    I need to use "curriculum vitae" in the plural. Since it's Latin, I think it should be "curricula vitarum"? or maybe "curricula vitae" but both options sound really odd or pompous in English and I think people would be taken aback. I think the abbreviation "CV's" exists but in this type of formal document (a formal application letter) contractions are usually frowned upon. Curriculum vitaes seems incorrect too, curriculums vitaes also. What do people use?

    If it helps my sentence is. I have translated documents such as contracts, certificates and curriculum vitae (pl) into several different languages.

    Thanks for you help
  2. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    English speakers can be expected to know basic Latin plurals, as they are used in English, so would recognize curricula as plural. It is not reasonable to expect them to recognize the genitive plural -arum, so I would use curricula vitae. There is no strong logical reason to pluralize vitae anyway.

    Because it's a two-word phrase, I don't think you should put an English plural -s on the end. Two curriculums, okay, not not two curriculum vitaes.
  3. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    According to, the plural is curricula vitae. Each curriculum relates to only one life [vita]. :)

    I am interested to see whether there are people who would use an English plural form.

    Added: I started (slowly) posting this before entangledbank posted his response.
  4. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    Thanks a lot for your quick answers! Curricula vitae it is. What a relief to avoid vitarum anyway. I'll keep résumés for a synonym if I need one.
  5. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)

    I would use curricula vitae as the plural but wonder what the context of the usage will be.

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 1, 2010
  6. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Actually, my vote would go to CVs. 'Curricula vitae' sounds awfully ... pompous:(.
  7. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    One would use CV and CVs if one didn't want to sound that way
    curriculum vitae and curricula vitae if one did :D
  8. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    Well, my goal was not really to sound pompous, but definitely not informal either because it's part of a letter used for academic purposes. That's the point of my problem. Orally, I would certainly feel conceited if I said "have a look at those curricula vitae". Since the register is high I think I'll still go with the curricula vitae instead of CV's. Maybe I'll put it in italics.
  9. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I think it may not reach the heights of pomposity but if you feel CV is too informal, then you have little choice. I'm still curious what the sentence will be where the plural is essential.
  10. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    I'm still reworking it but here's my sentence:
    I have translated a wide range of documents such as contracts, certificates, brochures, instruction booklets and curricula vitae into several languages.
    I think the Latin plural should be okay. I just didn't know if it was correct or commonly used. In the singular I wouldn't have used CV.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2010
  11. grubble

    grubble Senior Member

    South of England, UK
    British English
    I would read that without thinking twice. It's not as though, when we read our native language, we analyse every word.

    In this context it is much better than any of the alternatives.
  12. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    I think that stylistically, spelling it out is definitely preferable in this context.
  13. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    With the formality and register of the (sound of) the document, it shows the observant reader you are also not unfamiliar with Latin! Definitely better than CVs or CV's - there would be some readers who would be saying one or other of those two choices is wrong, but they can't quibble with your current choice.
  14. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    Thanks again everybody for your time and help!
  15. vale_new Senior Member

    Italian - Italy
    If you want to use a Latin word and you say you work with translations, either you use the proper plural genitive, or you skip the genitive, or you use another word or another form such as résumé, CVs, personal history forms.
  16. Majorbloodnock Senior Member

    South East England
    British English
    OK, Latin is definitely not my strong suit, but I have friends I can call on, and have done a bit of digging. Since "vitae" means "of life" and "vitarum" means "of lives", neither seems inherently inappropriate. "Courses of life" (as in life in general) is just as acceptable as "courses of lives" (as in multiple specific lives). I see no reason why "curricula vitae" cannot be put forward as both understandable AND grammatically correct as well.
  17. vale_new Senior Member

    Italian - Italy
    Neither mine, but if you are talking about transations of several CVs, a reader would guess that you are talking about several people who wrote several CVs for their own working experiences, which might be very varied one to another. So you'll have curriculum studiorum, the curriculum laboris meaning study or working career and the curriculum vitae, meaning career of life, presented for human resources selection processes.

    If you use curriculum studiorum or curriculum laboris, one person can have several in a life span, while if you are talking about translation of several career reports of several people, you are talking about a plurality of careers of a plurality of people.

    So, if you are highlighting the translation issue, I would avoid writing something that might be perceived as a mistake in Latin.
  18. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    It wouldn't be perceived as a mistake in Latin.

    In English, for instance, I would pluralize "letter of intent" as "letters of intent", not "letters of intents." This works the same way in Latin. Constructions using curricula with a singular genitive can be found in Cicero.
  19. grubble

    grubble Senior Member

    South of England, UK
    British English
    I just found this -

    curriculum vitae
    Pronunciation:/ˈviːtʌɪ, ˈvʌɪtiː/
    (abbreviation: CV)
    Curriculum vitae is a Latin phrase meaning ‘ course of life ’. The plural is made by changing the ending of curriculum from -um to -a: (curricula vitae ).
    a brief account of a person's education, qualifications, and previous occupations, typically sent with a job application

    early 20th century: Latin, 'course of life'

    If the Oxford dictionary says it then I believe it!
  20. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    Your example is really helpful in seeing the rationale for curricula vitae
  21. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    Thanks for your imput and the great link!
  22. vale_new Senior Member

    Italian - Italy
    Well, if Cicero says curricula vitae meaning that it's several curricula of several people, there's nothing I can suggest, unless Cicero will use this forum to argue ;)

    I'm amazed, though, that CVs, or something equivalent existed in Roman times, do you know where he said that? Is there some speech on the records that can also be found on the net? I'd love to read it for personal reasons

    If that's how they say in Oxford, no reasons to doubt! :)

    Plus, as I said earlier Latin is not my cup of tea (I hope it's a proper English expression... I'm not an expert in Latin....)
  23. wolfbm1

    wolfbm1 Senior Member

    It is a great link, indeed. What is interesting is that this dictionary also mentions the regular plural form of curiculum: curriculums.
  24. vale_new Senior Member

    Italian - Italy
    Here there is a Cicero's 'exiguum nobis vitae curriculum natura circumscripsit' that seems more relevant to the sense of existance than to a CV

    I have the impression that saying curricula vitae is like saying races of life, sticking to the Latin simbology, one can go for several rides in the same life span but what I can guess is that you are translating several resumes of a plurality of people.

    Posted in the Latin forum
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2010
  25. Newrone Member

    English - Ireland
    You touch on a corollary to this conundrum. How about several accounts, or copies, of a single ride in a single lifespan?

    If I have a pile of CVs from job applicants on the right-hand side of my desk, each of which describes the course of (the applicant's) life, I can readily refer to them as Curricula Vitae: various courses of life, each from a separate applicant.

    However, on the left-hand side of my desk I have several copies of the text describing the course of my own life, ready to send out to prospective employers - but all still only representing a single course of a single life. So in no way "curricula".

    Ultimately, what we now call a CV or a Curriculum Vitae is no such thing, but only a textual account of the actual curriculum of a person's vita. I will only ever have a single curriculum vitae, but what I churn out of my photocopier will be several... what?

    "Curriculum Vitae" in the original sense, is not simply the textual version of one's professional life summary that we now understand it to be, but modern usage of the term suggests that a modern rule of plurality should apply, i.e. Curriculum Vitaes (several paper copies of one original).

    I agree though that it sounds ugly.
  26. Biffo Senior Member

    English - England
    However you would not say "I am sending out curriculum vitaes to potential employers". You would say "I am sending my curriculum vitae to potential employers."

    What you have on the left of your desk is copies of your [single] curriculum vitae. Equally if you had ten identical copies of a letter, you wouldn't say "I have ten letters."

    The real question is what happens if you send a different CV to each firm because you want to impress them differently.


    "I have two different CVs that I send out according to the type of job I want."

    In that case you could surely use "curricula vitae".

    I'm not convinced that your argument addresses a real problem.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013

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