margo, -inis (m/f)

By john abshire, in 'Latin Beginners', Jul 12, 2019.

  1. john abshire Active Member

    margo, -inis (m/f) edge; rim; border
    what does (m/f) mean? i.e. does it mean masculine or feminine, or does it mean neuter?
    e.g. long border=longus margo, longa margo, or longum margo?
    Gregorius Textor likes this.
  2. Issacus Divus Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Gæmleflodland
    I believe it means masculine or feminine, like this entry for dies:
    diēs m or f
  3. Dantius Homo Sapiens

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    in orbe lacteo
    It can be longus or longa in your example but not longum.
  4. john abshire Active Member

    is there a reason for a m/f noun? i.e. why not just masculine, just feminine, or neuter?
    do nouns designated m/f have something (else) in common?
    Gregorius Textor likes this.
  5. Hemo Rusticus Tom Bombadillo

    • Civis Illustris
    In short, Latin-speakers themselves didn't know for sure. There are plenty of examples in Old English (where a given word may belong to two morphological categories and have any one of the three genders, depending on the text/author/dialect), which also had grammatical gender.

    More or less. A vast number of nouns in Latin indicate their gender morphologically; to put it one way, the word puella is feminine not because it means 'girl' but because †it ends in 'a'. However, many nouns, specially consonant-stems like margo, reveal little or nothing by morphology alone as far as grammatical gender, which means the inherited gender of a noun (if it was ever established to begin with) would have to be handed down perfectly from generation to generation. And as each of us knows from experience, human memory is not perfect.

    †There are, of course, exceptions like nauta.
    Gregorius Textor likes this.
  6. Gregorius Textor Active Member

    Location:
    Ohio, midwestern U.S.A.
    In addition to where the Latin speakers, or Latin scholars today looking at the limited Latin texts that the ancients left us, weren't or aren't sure, are there not some cases where the word itself can logically function both as masculine and feminine, depending on who or what individual it is referring to, instead of uncertainly as m or f, we don't know which?

    Here are some examples of m/f nouns in my vocabulary:

    vātēs - prophet, poet
    sodālis - companion, friend
    sacerdōs - priest(-ess)
    elephantus - elephant

    Clearly, a prophet, companion, priest, or elephant might be male or female, and it seems the Romans just didn't care to create two distinct nouns for the two cases -- unlike their practice with certain other nouns, or should I say "noun pairs," such as equus / equa and magister / magistra.

    However, it seems unlikely that margo fits this description -- a male or female edge, rim, or border makes no sense to me -- so I guess in this case we just don't know whether it was masc. or fem.
  7. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    Yes.
  8. Dantius Homo Sapiens

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    in orbe lacteo
    Not that we don't know, but that there are attested instances of both genders.
    Gregorius Textor likes this.
  9. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Cygnea, Gena

    It's the same situation in English. You have words like teacher or friend which can be either masculine or feminine, and you have pairs like actor/ actress, god/ goddess...
    Gregorius Textor likes this.
  10. Dantius Homo Sapiens

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    in orbe lacteo
    A similar phenomenon is words like vulpes which have a grammatical gender independent of their physical gender, which are called "epicene".
    Screen Shot 2019-07-20 at 12.06.05 AM.png

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