forums or fora?

Cracker Jack

Senior Member
In the upper right hand corner of this page, the word FORUMS ubiquitously appears. Should it be FORA instead?

Latin derived words ending in UM form plural by changing the suffix UM to A, to wit: CURRICULUM - CURRICULA; MEMORANDUM - MEMORANDA; STADIUM - STADIA; MEDIUM - MEDIA; BACTERIUM - BACTERIA; DATUM - DATA; SPECTRUM - SPECTRA; COMPENDIUM - COMPENDIA; PODIUM - PODIA; FLAGELLUM - FLAGELLA; CONTINUUM - CONTINUA; AQUARIUM - AQUARIA; PHYLUM - PHYLA, etc.

Thanks.
 
  • timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Cracker Jack said:
    In the upper right hand corner of this page, the word FORUMS ubiquitously appears. Should it be FORA instead?

    Latin derived words ending in UM form plural by changing the suffix UM to A, to wit: CURRICULUM - CURRICULA; MEMORANDUM - MEMORANDA; STADIUM - STADIA; MEDIUM - MEDIA; BACTERIUM - BACTERIA; DATUM - DATA; SPECTRUM - SPECTRA; COMPENDIUM - COMPENDIA; PODIUM - PODIA; FLAGELLUM - FLAGELLA; CONTINUUM - CONTINUA; AQUARIUM - AQUARIA; PHYLUM - PHYLA, etc.

    Thanks.
    My understanding is that both are acceptable in English, but that on a case by case basis one is sometimes more common that the other. I think that the -a form is usually the more common. However, "forums" I would say is more common than "fora". Reading your examples above the ones I would write as -ums are "continuums" and "aquariums" (although -a wouldn't surprise me).
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    We are by now in a world where the plural of this kind of forum is definitely forums.

    Those who work in a context where forum is used in the classical sense would, I suspect, use fora as the plural.

    Sorry Cracker, you either give in or fight a long, lonely campaign with no hope of success.
     

    garryknight

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    The Latin plural of "forum" is "fora". The English plural of "forum" is "forums". But that's just my personal opinion, and everyone who thinks differently is just plain wrong. :D
     

    Cracker Jack

    Senior Member
    Yup I stand corrected. It is indeed the ULHC. I think I have spatial disorientation especially in giving directions. I think it is stereoagnosia. Anyway thanks Tizha and to all who replied.

    On the other hand, if I use fora no one would tell me I'm mistaken, no?
     

    fenixpollo

    moderator
    American English
    Cracker Jack said:
    On the other hand, if I use fora no one would tell me I'm mistaken, no?
    No, not in this particular forum... but they might think you were being a little too cute for your own good. "Ooh, look at me! I'm using Latin correctly! Aren't I special!" :D

    Anyway, when would you ever use it?
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Not having the sharpest hearing in the world, if I heard someone talking about the "fora" I would probably wonder where the "fauna" was as well.:confused:
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    timpeac said:
    Not having the sharpest hearing in the world, if I heard someone talking about the "fora" I would probably wonder where the "fauna" was as well.:confused:

    Oh, your hearing's sharp enough-- that's exactly what I "hear." Funny how the ear balks at some of those -um/-a latinisms and not others. I don't "do cute" too often, but conundra is a useful tool in setting that tone. "Pandemonia broke out in cities across the country." (hmm-- is pandemonium Latin or Greek?) Anyway, the point is, erudite usage is "cute" if it calls attention to itself.

    Good thing there's only one Panjandrum, huh? The quibble about that plural is mercifully moot.
     

    Cracker Jack

    Senior Member
    Well fenix thanks for the compliment. At least in using these latinisms I get to be cute. Hahaha or Jajaja. Seriously though, I wouldn't have posted this thread if I didn't have doubts. I have observed that even seasoned and award-winning journalists of Time-Newsweek caliber and even best-selling novelist also use this.

    One thing though, in textbook or academic materials, these are very much in use. As for me, it has already been resolved. Nice try "fora" and "fauna." Kudos.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Did someone mention kudos? Did someone suggest it might be plural? Wash your mouth out with soap timpeac. Were you not there in the great kudos debate?
    Anyone who wasn't, or anyone keen for a trip down that particular twisted and perverse side-alley off memory lane, should pack enough food for an overnight stay and then CLICK HERE.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    panjandrum said:
    Did someone mention kudos? Did someone suggest it might be plural? Wash your mouth out with soap timpeac. Were you not there in the great kudos debate?
    Anyone who wasn't, or anyone keen for a trip down that particular twisted and perverse side-alley off memory lane, should pack enough food for an overnight stay and then CLICK HERE.

    Guys - note the smiley after the comment - I wasn't being serious...:p
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    OK, I over-reacted:eek: Full and genuine apology. Well stirred, sir.
    I also realised, when I looked through the thread, that Timpeac hadn't been there anyway.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    "Forums" seems to be an exception to the exception: SOED doesn't give "fora" as a plural of "forums," even though it does give "data" as the plural of "datum." Perhaps for some reason "fora" was never used in English, no matter what the Romans did 2000 years ago.
    Could that perhaps be because the Romans did not have a plural of forum? The Forum was a specific place in Rome. Similarly, there is no plural of Pall Mall or Times Square. The plural form, "forums", is the plural of the English word "forum", not the Latin word FORVM (normally written by us as Forum). Maybe the full OED does not trouble itself with giving the plural form, because forum forms its plural in the standard way. The form "forums" dates back to at least 1647.
     

    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    I don't know what to enter into Google to find out, but are you sure that there was only one FORVM, the one in Rome? It seems to me that other cities founded and developed within the IMPERIVM ROMANVM each had a FORVM too, or at least a few of them did. If so, those places, collectively, would have been FORA if a user of LINGUA LATINA had ever had occasion to refer to the lot—"The forums in provincial cities are smaller than the original Forum in Rome," that sort of thing. Or so I have to suppose; maybe because of the religious significance of the original and any imitations, the noun was declined irregularly.

    The SOED does not give English plurals formed by the addition of -s or -es, but does give plurals formed in other ways, even if those are "standard" in the original languages of the words. So it appears that the OED editors didn't think fora had been used as a plural of forum in English, or at least was not being used at all when the "F" volume was compiled, and had not been for a long time. It would be surprising if the original user was not aware of how to form plurals of second declension neuter nouns in Latin, but perhaps the word was just never used in the plural in English until the singular had been "naturalized."
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    @Fabulist. Curious, isn't it - I did emphasise "perhaps" and, on reflection, there probably was a Forum in other cities, and if Romans ever thought about more than one forum, then they must have used fora. Nevertheless, the OED does not have a single example of fora, but has two examples of forums, which pre-date the modern usage (of internet forums) by 340 and 130 years. I suppose that you are right:
    but perhaps the word was just never used in the plural in English until the singular had been "naturalized."
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    For what it's worth, the Latin word "forum" was not restricted to Rome -- even if it had been, Rome had several of them -- and its plural was fora, as examples in Pliny, Seneca, and elsewhere show. Source: Oxford Latin Dictionary. "Forum" was also used with such meanings as "A country town in which legal cases were tried, 'assize-town'," and "(in a wine or oil press) the space where the fruit was laid for pressing." Pall Mall or Times Square, it is not.
     
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