Gen. et sp. nov.

Among the abbreviations used by systematic biologists, there is gen. et sp. nov. “new genus and species”. We have here two nouns in the singular, a neuter genus and a feminine speciēs. What would be the correct agreement of the adjective in such a case: should it be in the singular or plural, and in which gender? Did Romans use the masculine plural as the default in such mixed cases, or was the agreement tied to the first or to the last element? And let's imagine a more complicated case: ōrdō (m), familia (f), genus (n) et speciēs nov…: what do (?) / does (?) the grammar and the practice tell?
 
  • Scholiast

    Senior Member
    Greetings all.

    Good question. I quote from Gildersleeve and Lodge, Latin Grammar (3rd edn. 1895, repr. 1965), § 286:

    '1. When the genders of combined subjects...are different, the adjective...takes either the strongest gender or the nearest...
    In things with life, the masculine...is the strongest; in things without life, the neuter.

    '2. When things with life and without life are combined, the gender varies.
    (a) Both as persons:
    Rex regiaque classis profecti (sunt), L. XXI 50.11; the king and the king's fleet set out.
    (b)
    Both as things:
    natura inimica [sunt] libera civitas et rex, L. XLIV 24.2; a free state and a king are natural enemies.

    '3. When the subjects are feminine abstracts the predicate may be neuter plural...
    Stultitiam et intemperantiam dicimus esse fugienda, CIC. Fin. III 11.39, folly and want of self-control we say are (things) to be avoided.'

    I would suggest therefore that the answer is that 'proper' Latin (though of course we are thinking here of post-Linnaean taxonomical terminology) would resort to the neuter gender; but without doubt in the plural.

    I hope this is helpful.

    Σ
     
    Last edited:

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    My pleasure, ahvalj.

    Further thought inclines me to a further refinement to Gildersleeve & Lodge's explanation.
    In the first Livy passage (rex regiaque classis profecti sunt cited under 2(a)) rex refers to a specific king on a specific historical occasion.
    In the second, however (2(b)), natura inimica [sunt] libera civitas et rex, the word rex means the theoretical and abstract '[idea/concept of a] king', or 'kingship', or 'monarchy in principle'. This leaves me in some doubt as to whether inimica should be construed as fem. sing. agreeing with civitas or as neut. pl., following the grammatical pattern in G&L's no. 3.

    quid sentiunt alii?

    Σ
     
    Last edited:
    Gratiae, scholiasta!

    That was a spontaneous post, I am not able to expand it now, but over the years I developed a feeling that agreement with combined subjects is too complicated for our brains: it may work reasonably well in writing or recitation but it is not something that is applied automatically in speech. First, it requires from the speaker some form of anticipation (if the adjective goes first) or attention (if it follows the group of nouns). Second, properly speaking, grammatical agreement was not developed for that, and something like puer et puellae rōmānī still doesn't look quite natural: it is the thing that has to be prescribed by grammarians and then learnt.
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    Good question. I quote from Gildersleeve and Lodge, Latin Grammar (3rd edn. 1895, repr. 1965), § 286:
    I too first wrote something like that, but the more I looked at it the less it made sense in the OP's examples, so I went and checked some grammars and these guidelines are only stated to apply to predication (genus et speciēs nova sunt). The normal use with attributive adjectives, as in our case, is agreement with the closest noun in the singular; worth noting is a poetically confusing use of the type genus et nova speciēs where the adjective must be understood to refer to both members. If one opts for the plural agreement, then the rules are the same as in the predicative use (patrem atque mātrem meōs), so I don't see anything unnatural about puer et puellae Rōmānī - and 'Rōmānae' there would confuse me because it would leave the puer out of the description. Here's Pinkster 2015 as the standard ref.

    Still, this doesn't really put my mind at ease regarding the examples above: firstly this is not only a different register but a wholly different type of Latin (written-first to be sight-read, like modern literature, not oral-first and intended for recitation like most of ancient writing) whose usage doesn't have to conform to that of the ancients; secondly because I'd like to find an exact mirror construction in classical itself (and preferrably in something like the Nātūrālis Historia); third because there's no actual sentence and no fixed grammatical structure, so every time I looked at it I read it differently, for example nova changed its gender and number xD
     

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    saluete amici!

    How encouraging it is to know that Latin studies are so lively in St Petersburg! Both ahvalj (# 4) and Sobakus (# 5) make valid points, and I confess to some perplexity myself still about the whole question. A few more observations arise, nevertheless.
    First, [agreement of adjectives with nouns of mixed gender] requires...some form of anticipation (if the adjective goes first) or attention (if it follows the group of nouns). Second...grammatical agreement was not developed for that, and something like puer et puellae rōmānī still doesn't look quite natural: it is the thing that has to be prescribed by grammarians and then learnt.
    As regards the first point: as in the Romance legacy languages, the tendency in Latin is for adjectives to follow their nouns (unless expressing size or appearance); and the thought is prior to the utterance, so I don't think 'anticipation' is a difficulty—all the languages of which I have any experience call on occasion for forms of prolepsis (e.g. 'Knowing the language as you do, you will find this Latin text easy to read').
    And on the second: I'm not quite sure what ahvalj means by 'grammatical agreement was not developed for that', and would like to know what he believes it was developed for. Some degree of such agreement is found in Greek, ancient and modern, German and the Balto-Slavonic tongues as well as Romance, so it is more widespread than some of us poor benighted Anglophones may realise. Also, in instances like pueri et puellae Romani, I have a feeling that the 'discomfort' would be commonly mitigated by saying instead pueri Romani et puellae, or puellae et pueri Romani, or pueri puellaeque Romani.
    Sobakus makes the important distinction between predicative usage and attributive;* and rightly says that Linnaean (or any 'modern') Latin is intended to be read rather than heard. But I am not persuaded that this exempts such writers from following the classical rules of agreement, as analysed by grammarians.
    (Incidentally, if I had had his book available to me, Pinkster, rather than the worthy, but dated, Gildersleeve/Lodge, would have been my first port of call for reference. And en passant, without thinking about it I have just given another example of prolepsis in English!)

    Σ

    *Edited afterthought: this applies in German especially, in which attributive adjectives are declined to be kongruent, but predicative adjectives are not. Thus ein hübsches Mädchen / das hübsche Mädchen, but das Mädchen ist hübsch.
     
    Last edited:

    A User

    Banned
    Italiano
    CONCORDANZA DEL PREDICATO (nominale) CON PIÚ SOGGETTI: è il caso in cui, all'interno di una proposizione, sono presenti più soggetti, il predicato è sempre espresso al plurale. Le cose si complicano, però, quando i soggetti hanno genere diverso: in questo caso, se i due soggetti sono maschili, sia per gli esseri animati che per gli esseri inanimati, si deve usare il maschile plurale; se sono femminili, sia per gli esseri animati che per gli esseri inanimati si deve usare il femminile plurale (ndr. per gli esseri inanimati si può usare anche il neutro plurale, da fonte diversa); se uno è maschile e l'altro è femminile, per gli esseri animati si deve usare il maschile plurale, mentre per gli inanimati si deve usare il neutro plurale; se uno è maschile e l'altro è neutro per gli esseri animati si deve usare il maschile plurale, mentre per gli inanimati si deve usare il neutro plurale; se uno è femminile e l'altro è neutro, per gli esseri animati si deve usare il femminile plurale, mentre per gli inanimati si deve usare il neutro plurale.
    Concordanza.JPG

    Species: Specie, come suddivisione del genere.
    Genus and (one) new species > Genus et species nova (feminine singular)
    Genus and (more) new species > Genus et species novae (feminine plural)
    New genus and (one) new species > Genus et species nova (neuter plural)
    New genus and (more) new species > Genus et species nova (neuter plural)

    Flumen (N) Rhenum (N) et Flumen (N) Tiberis (M), quae (neuter plural) …
     

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    saluete de novo!

    I applaud A User's attempt to systematize and regularise the linguistic phenomena (an explanation which more or less agrees with G/L as I cited above (# 2)), but for reasons akin to those of ahvalj and Sobakus (in ## 4, 5), I remain a bit sceptical that in practice classical Latin is quite so consistent as his answer and the table which he provides suggests, particularly where the adjective precedes the noun(s) to which it refers.

    Σ
     
    Last edited:

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    CONCORDANZA DEL PREDICATO (nominale) CON PIÚ SOGGETTI
    Grazie per la lucida spiegazione, ma come ho già notato nel messaggio precedente, queste regole valgono solo per il predicato, mentre nel nostro caso si tratta di aggettivi attributivi. Il perché di questa differenza, ma anche del mio dubbio, si può vedere proprio da questi esempi, dove una sola forma esprimerebbe tre significati diversi:
    Genus and (one) new species > Genus et species nova (feminine singular)
    New genus and (one) new species > Genus et species nova (neuter plural)
    New genus and (more) new species > Genus et species nova (neuter plural)
     
    Last edited:
    Telani salvete viri!

    Thank you for the replies.

    I think, from a practical viewpoint, the answer has been given — by all of you — that is, the adjective in my example should stand in the neuter plural. True, nova can be ambiguous, and speciēs too, but these are particular cases. Unfortunately, languages are replete with homonymic forms.

    When writing that agreement wasn't made for that, I meant that it arose as a tool to bind a single noun with its attributes. Recalling my example: puer rōmānus et puellae rōmānae. It only works properly when used this way or when all the nouns belong to the same agreement class (the same gender and number in our case). To provide agreement with heterogeneous nouns, the language should allow some kind of Suffixaufnahme, which is absolutely excluded in Indo-European (it would have looked like puer et puellae **rōmānusae, with the adjective showing agreement to both nouns). Otherwise, ambiguity and uncertainty are inevitable.
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    I think, from a practical viewpoint, the answer has been given — by all of you — that is, the adjective in my example should stand in the neuter plural.
    But that's exactly the thing: in the general case it should stand in the feminine singular since it's attributive. To swap them around: speciēs et genus novum, novum genus et speciēs, nova speciēs et genus etc. That particular phrase in context where it's usually found doesn't seem any more ambiguous than the English "new genus and species" or the Russian "новый род и вид". It's when you introduce 'options' that you no longer know what gender and number nova is supposed to be - granted the meaning doesn't really change because it was evident in the first place.
     
    Last edited:

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    Greetings again

    Another habitué of this Forum, who is Italian, tells me (in a PM) that, as one might expect, in cases of mixed-gender attributes or predications, the masculine generally takes precedence (there being no neuter in Italian), whether attributively or predicatively. But he also remarked that he felt mild 'discomfort' with phrases such as ragazzi e ragazze romani or pueri et puellae Romani, and that some people might in fact say ragazzi e ragazze romane. I imagine that some of this 'fluidity' will have been heard in vulgar Latin as well, even if not in the written language of Cicero or Caesar.

    And while I am about it: to go momentarily back to G&L's first example from Livy (cited in # 2 above) where rex regiaque classis profecti (sunt), with rex masc. but classis fem., and profecti masc. plur., that fleet will have been crewed exclusively by men, so it is entirely natural that the masc. takes precedence. It would be interesting to know what a Latin historian, describing some belligerent regina setting forth with her fleet, would have done with the participle.

    The battle of Actium in 31 BC springs to mind.

    Σ
     
    Last edited:

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    Well, one particular strong point about A User's summary is that it stresses the animacy aspect, since that is what underlies predicate agreement, also referred to as "notional agreement". So there's only one way to say that a non-exclusively-female fleet has departed, and that is with the masculine (profectī sunt). The neuter plural (profecta sunt) would make the queen into an inanimate object, and the feminine sg. (profecta est) would collapse her and the fleet into a single entity - a queen by day, a battle fleet by night, something out of the Transformers universe perhaps :)

    As to puerī et puellae + ATTR, I do likewise think that this particular combination might admit of some variation: as mentioned repeatedly, agreement with only one member would seem to be the norm, but I'm not entirely sure what the case is when both members are in the plural. On the contrary, in message #4 and my reply to it we have one puer and several puellae, in which case the plural cannot but refer to all of them - which requires the masculine - or else exclude the boy.

    There's one more complication to this whole conundrum in that Rōmānus might not be an actual adjective at all, but represent the same type as Ru. "мужчи́на-ри́млянин" and En. "an Englishman driver": it makes little sense to ask for that description with "quālis/како́й?", but with "quis/кто?", which makes it pattern with nouns like "nauta/моря́к".
     
    Last edited:

    A User

    Banned
    Italiano
    queste regole valgono solo per il predicato, mentre nel nostro caso si tratta di aggettivi attributivi
    Avevo già fatto notare che la regola del predicato creava ambiguità quando la si voleva applicare alla funzione attributiva dell'aggettivo.
    Però bisogna dire che si voleva partire con il presupposto di declinare l’aggettivo al purale, e in questo caso non ci potevano essere altri modi di fare la concordanza se non quella di equiparare la funzione predicativa con quella attributiva.
    Quello che riscontro negli esempi che seguono è un’altra soluzione, che lascia l’aggettivo al singolare, interposto tra i due soggetti, e nello stesso caso e nello stesso genere del termine che lo precede, sia esso maschile o femminile.
    Si tratta di una concordanza fatta unicamente con il primo soggetto, mentre l’aggettivo, o viene ripetuto anche per il secondo soggetto, o viene sottinteso.

    Maledictus qui non honorat patrem suum et matrem et dicet omnis populus amen.
    Maledetto chi maltratta il padre e la madre! Tutto il popolo dirà: Amen.
    Ego et mater tua et fratres.
    Io, tua madre e i tuoi fratelli.
    Et profectus est David inde in Maspha quae est Moab et dixit ad regem Moab maneat oro pater meus et mater mea vobiscum donec sciam quid faciat mihi Deu.
    And David went thence to Mizpeh of Moab: and he said unto the king of Moab, Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, come forth, and be with you, till I know what God will do for me.

    Un altro caso meglio conosciuto, possibile con i due soggetti nello stesso genere:
    SPQR - Senatus Populusque Romanus
     
    Last edited:

    A User

    Banned
    Italiano
    Just out of curiosity: I cannot see a word meaning ''come forth'' in the Latin text you quoted.
    Please note also Deus.
    Different versions of Bible translation. This is the King James version.
    1 Samuel 22:3 KJV: And David went thence to Mizpeh of Moab: and he said unto the king of Moab, Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, come forth, and be with you, till I know what God will do for me.
    Deu is a typo of the website.

    The order of subjects cannot be swapped around. The most honourable precedes the least honourable.
     
    Last edited:

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    saluete omnes!

    @bearded (# 15): the verb in the LXX, rendered by Jerome as maneant, is γινέσθωσαν [ginesthosan], which seems to justify your doubts, but later today I shall be 'seeing' (by courtesy of zoom) a dear friend of mine, who knows Hebrew, and I'll ask her to check the original for us.

    Σ
     
    Last edited:

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    Avevo già fatto notare che la regola del predicato creava ambiguità quando la si voleva applicare alla funzione attributiva dell'aggettivo.
    Non sono riuscito a trovare alcune menzione della funzione attributiva o della sua differenza da quella predicativa nel tuo messaggio allora come non lo faccio adesso. È per questo che ho commentato - la differenza è strumentale.
    Però bisogna dire che si voleva partire con il presupposto di declinare l’aggettivo al purale, e in questo caso non ci potevano essere altri modi di fare la concordanza se non quella di equiparare la funzione predicativa con quella attributiva.
    Proprio così, come ho scritto nel messaggio #5 - ma non sono sicuro di cosa succeda si ci sono due soggetti plurali, particolarmente animati (puerī et puellae).
    Quello che riscontro negli esempi che seguono è un’altra soluzione, che lascia l’aggettivo al singolare, interposto tra i due soggetti, e nello stesso caso e nello stesso genere del termine che lo precede, sia esso maschile o femminile.
    Si tratta di una concordanza fatta unicamente con il primo soggetto
    [...]
    Un altro caso meglio conosciuto, possibile con i due soggetti nello stesso genere:
    SPQR - Senatus Populusque Romanus
    Questo vale non solo quando l'aggettivo segue il primo soggetto o quando i due soggetti sono dello stesso genere, ma è vero nel caso generale. Dal Pinkster 2015:
    MN+N: vir summō ingeniō, scientiā, cōpiā
    N+NM: ingenuitātem et rubōrem suum
    N+NM ('figūra apo koinou'): dignamque auribus et tuō cachinnō = tuīs auribus et tuō cachinnō = auribus tuīs et cachinnō (normalmente)​
    Il tipo di "NM+N" mi pare essere particolarmente comune con determinanti e possessivi, cioè con i clitici - questo è ben comprensibile. Ma né il genere né l'ordine delle parole sembrano avere un'influenza decisiva sulla concordanza di genere o di numero. Anche se sembra che la concordanza plurale sia più probabile quando il modificatore segue entrambi i sostantivi, come succede anche nel caso degli aggetivi predicativi.
     
    Last edited:

    A User

    Banned
    Italiano
    ma non sono sicuro di cosa succeda si ci sono due soggetti plurali, particolarmente animati (puerī et puellae)
    Poiché si tratta di di soggetti animati, l'ordine consueto è "puerī et puellae" e non "puellae et puerī", per le ragioni che ho spiegato prima, nell'ultima riga del #16. È più difficile stabilire una priorità tra soggetti inanimati, ma, nonostante ciò, in Genus + species la priorità è chiara (perché come ho già detto la "specie" è una suddivisione del "genere").
    Quindi, in entrambi i casi citati l'ordine è prestabilito (genus et species, pueri et puellae).
    "dignamque auribus(F) et tuō(M) cachinnō(M)": Anche qui la priorità è chiara, prima si ascolta e dopo si ride, e l'aggettivo (tuō) è interposto.
    "vir summō ingeniō, scientiā, cōpiā": qui siamo in presenza di una lista, chè è meglio tenere unità, e non c'è la congiunzione "et".
    Si tratta di una concordanza fatta unicamente con il primo soggetto (the subject who come first)
    Per tutte le ragioni sopra citate, nel caso di latino classico, e con l'aggettivo riferito ad entrambi i soggetti, propenderei per:
    "puerī bonī et puellae"(a parità di dignità l'aggettivo è sempre accanto al maschile, vedi: ingenuitātem(F) et rubōrem(M) suum(M); dignamque auribus(F) et tuō(M) cachinnō(M))
    "genus novum et species" (se il genere è nuovo lo saranno ovviamente anche le specie)(il genere è più importante della specie)(il femminile "species" non prevale sul neutro "genus" per soggetti inanimati).


    Se non parliamo invece di aspetti stilistici, e parliamo in generale, la posizione dell'aggettivo può non avere nessuna rilevanza, come dice il Pinkster, perchè in caso di incompatilità tra priorità, bisogna sempre scegliere la priorità prioritaria.
    Nel caso di "gen. et sp. nov." l'indeterminatezza della soluzione e la particolarità dell'ordine dipende, in parte, dal fatto che stiamo parlando di un latino usato mille anni dopo la caduta dell'impero romano, con la concordanza al plurale che sta prendendo il sopravvento su quella al singolare.
     
    Last edited:

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    Poiché si tratta di di soggetti animati, l'ordine consueto è "puerī et puellae" e non "puellae et puerī"
    [...]
    Per tutte le ragioni sopra citate, nel caso di latino classico, e con l'aggettivo riferito ad entrambi i soggetti, propenderei per:
    "puerī bonī et puellae"(a parità di dignità l'aggettivo è sempre accanto al maschile, vedi: ingenuitātem(F) et rubōrem(M) suum(M); dignamque auribus(F) et tuō(M) cachinnō(M))
    "genus novum et species" (se il genere è nuovo lo saranno ovviamente anche le specie)(il genere è più importante della specie)(il femminile "species" non prevale sul neutro "genus" per soggetti inanimati).
    Sembra che tu stia dicendo che nel latino classico, l'aggettivo segue sempre il sostantivo di più importanza e concorda con esso nel genere, e per questo l'ordine di parole ha un influenza importante - ma senzo dirlo esplicitamente. Ho capito bene? Ha visto questa idea menzionata altrove?
    Nel caso di "gen. et sp. nov." l'indeterminatezza della soluzione e la particolarità dell'ordine dipende, in parte, dal fatto che stiamo parlando di un latino usato mille anni dopo la caduta dell'impero romano, con la concordanza al plurale che sta prendendo il sopravvento su quella al singolare.
    Io ho avuto lo stesso dubbio, ma non ho visto alcune prove che questo fosse davvero il caso. E tu?
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    ... I developed a feeling that agreement with combined subjects is too complicated for our brains: it may work reasonably well in writing or recitation but it is not something that is applied automatically in speech. First, it requires from the speaker some form of anticipation (if the adjective goes first) or attention (if it follows the group of nouns). Second, properly speaking, grammatical agreement was not developed for that, and something like puer et puellae rōmānī still doesn't look quite natural: it is the thing that has to be prescribed by grammarians and then learnt. ....

    Otherwise, ambiguity and uncertainty are inevitable.

    I fully agree with you.

    I think that the expressions like "gen. et sp. nov." are intended rather as abbreviated forms of a certain information, not necessarily to be pronounced exactly the same way they are written.

    From the logical (or "mathematical") point of view, to avoid ambiguity, it should be written for example this way: "(gen. + sp.) nov.". As the Latin (and probably no other language) has exact grammatical tools to express this formula, such expressions are substantially a priori ambiguous, in spite of whatever prescribed grammatical rule. By the way, there are quite many posts in the Romance language forums about this theme, even from native speakers ....

    As from the pure logical point of view, "(gen. + sp.) nov." = "gen. nov. + sp. nov.", it seems that the only really natural solution is to repeat the adjective "nov." in the adequate gender and number.

    Finally, this is not only question of genders, but rather a logic problem: the ambiguity arises even in case of equal genders or numbers, e.g. "Mater et puellae bonae". Does bonae refer also to mater? .... Or "Mater et puella bona". Does bona refer both to mater and puella? ....
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I have a question:

    If instead of "et" we used "-que", wouldn't be the meaning less ambiguous? I.e. wouldn't the adjective novus tend to include both the nouns genus and species, rather than only the nearest noun?

    E.g. "novum genus speciesque", or "genus speciesque nova (fem.)"

    (here I prefer the singular of "novus" and the gender of the nearest noun. The plural "nova" seems to me a bit unnatural, however I am not sure about it ....)
     
    Last edited:

    radagasty

    Senior Member
    Australia, Cantonese
    The verb in the LXX, rendered by Jerome as maneant, is γινέσθωσαν [ginesthosan], which seems to justify your doubts, but later today I shall be 'seeing' (by courtesy of zoom) a dear friend of mine, who knows Hebrew, and I'll ask her to check the original for us.

    KJV: “Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, come forth, and be with you, till I know what God will do for me.”

    This is actually an interesting case from a text-critical point of view. The Masoretic Text has יֵצֵא־נָא אָבִי וְאִמִּי אִתְּכֶם prithee let my father and mother go forth with you, but this reading is problematic, both because it does not fit the context and because of the versions, with LXX γινέσθωσαν suggesting היה and the Vulgate (maneant) and Syriac suggesting ישׁב, which is also attested in at least on Hebrew manuscript as well as in Rabbinic commentaries.

    The MT is of course the source of the rendering ‘come forth’. However, ‘and be with you’ has no warrant in the MT, which simply reads go/come forth with you, but was inserted by the KJV translators, I imagine, to make sense of the passage, and indeed the words and be are printed in italics, to indicate that the words are not found in the source text.

    Note that the first word of the following verse [1 Sam 22:4] has a similar textual problem. The consonantal text reads וינחם, which the MT vocalises as וַיַּנְֵחֵם = and he led them, and the KJV accordingly translates ‘and he brought them’, but most versions read the word as וַיַּנִּיחֵם = and he left them (Vulgate reliquit eos), whilst the LXX vocalises instead וַיְנַחֵם = and he consoled, whence παρεκάλεσεν.
     
    Last edited:
    Top