Seeking commentary on the distinction between -ia nouns and -itas nouns.

By Michael Zwingli, in 'Latin Beginners', Nov 1, 2018.

  1. Greetings, all!

    I have wished for some time now, to have a bit of clarification on the distinctions between -ia nouns and -itas nouns. Both of the suffixes -ia and -itas can be used to form abstract nouns from adjectives (as well as other parts of speech). I have noted, however, that -ia, for instance, does not seem in Classical Latin, to have formed nouns from -osus adjectives. I am wondering why so, and what are the full range of distinctions that have historically existed in the employment of these suffixes, and so I would like to have some commentary on this subject by my more learned correspondents in this forum.

    Thanks much for your input, and be well.
    Mike
  2. One might also include here the abstract nouns in -tudo (valetudo, pulchritudo), and those in -ies, but my main focus here remains those in -ia and those in -itas.
  3. Iáson Cívis Illústris

    • Civis Illustris
    I've not thought very carefully about this before, but perhaps it's the case that -ia is used with derivation from consonant stem adjectives (audācia, dēmentia), and -itās from i-stems or the -us/a/um type (adfīnitās, acerbitās)?

    That said, I can already think of one counterexample: atrōcitās.
  4. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    The main difference I can think of is that -ia is often used to create verbal nouns from present participles (e.g. constantia, perseverantia, distantia, differentia, eloquentia) while this isn't the case with -tas.
  5. The above all seem to provide parts of the picture, but I think full understanding of this might only be attainable by considering the PIE, or at least the Proto-italic, roots of these suffixes. I should like to have Hemo Rusticus chew this bone over for awhile. It seems to be "right up his alley"...
  6. Dantius Homo Sapiens

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    in orbe lacteo
  7. Hemo Rusticus The Lizard King

    • Civis Illustris
    I don't have much to add in terms of meaning or usage of these forms, as it essentially boils down to which morphemes became productive within a branch of IE, which like all linguistic development generally speaking is mostly due to analogy. But in terms of their history, Pax is right to mention the verbal component of nouns in -ia, gotten from the present participle which is an i-stem (that is to say, its full-grad stem is -ey, cf. Old Latin nom. pl. igneis (< *igneyes) to Sanscrit agnayas). The Proto-Italic *-eyā becomes the Classical -ia by regular Latin sound laws, *listed at the bottom if you're interested.

    You may have noticed in your studies that feminine nouns of the so-called 1st declension have an ending corresponding exactly to the plural of o-stem neuter nouns like templum (in Latin as well as, for example, Gothic, Sanscrit, and Lithuanian), and the reason is that they are historically identical. That is, we maintain largely on the basis of Hittite that the original nominal morphology of IE was not divided along the lines of three genders, but rather two classes of animate and inanimate, and the o-stem nouns of Latin alone attest to this fact. For what is templum but the accusative of a hypothetical masc. noun *templus? But a neuter noun, historically speaking the old inanimate class, has no business being the subject (very often the semantic agent) of the sentence, and so this hypothetical form will naturally remain just that.

    And so, concomitant with the development of the 'feminine gender', which we recall is really the old inanimate plural (in *-eH2) made paradigmatic, is an abstraction founded on the plurality of inanimate things. In the case of Proto-Italic, the present participle was the perfect candidate for this new bit of morphosyntax, and the word 'essentia' could mean both 'things that are/being things' > 'that which is/existence/the world'. However, in other branches other forms were more productive; Slavic, for example, prefers the perfect passive participle in *-en, so that Russian has pairs like дарен /daren/ 'given (as a gift)' and дарение /darenie/ 'act of giving' (< Proto-Slavic *darenьjō, cf. L dōnum, G δῶρον).

    The -tās of Latin, sometimes given as -itās because Classical Latin does not consider euphonic most possible combinations like Jason was saying (e.g. *temertas or *atroctas, but facultas), is not very popular outside of 'the big three' (Greek & Sanscrit), and even those don't use it nearly as much. I can't think of any better reasoning than that its sound appealed to speakers & it became simply a thing used to make nominal, much in the way English '-ness' is hooked colloquially to just about any word in the language and nobody bats an eye (probably 'cause you can never tell what's legitimate any more). To name a few, I've heard:

    cringiness (*cringy < cringe), publicness, causticness, free-spiritedness


    *The first, a monophthongization of ei to long ẹ or ī, depending on phonetic environment (and some suppose also the original toneme of the IE root). The second is shortening of said vowel when followed by another vowel. The third is so important to Latin as to have the name iambic shortening.
    Last edited by Hemo Rusticus, Nov 5, 2018
  8. Your response is fantastic, anyways.
    I don't know if it has ever occurred to anyone else, but personally, I have developed a feeling that the assignation of grammatical gender to things was carried too far in Latin, in which gender is attributed to things which can have no sex because of their very nature, even to inanimate objects and abstractions. Gender is a handy device to have in describing animate objects, but assigning it to inanimate objects, and further carrying that to all articles and adjectives related to those objects, not to mention to abstract things, seems to defy intellectual rigor and somehow to approach the absurd. That having been said, the necessity for agreement in Latin, partially derived from said assignation of grammatical gender, is what makes Latin study such a wonderful exercise in the understanding of grammar, which is to say in the understanding thinking in general, since to we humans all complex thinking is performed through a "grammatical lens". To me, therein lies the beauty of Latin and the benefit of studying it.

    Thanks for providing quite a bit to think about, and new avenues of exploration.
    Hemo Rusticus likes this.
  9. Godmy A Monkey

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Bohemia
    I'm missing something in your "convenient examples"! :mad::akimbo:

    ... but you made up for it in later paragraphs (I forgive you!).

    (very good article btw.^)
    Last edited by Godmy, Nov 6, 2018
  10. Hemo Rusticus The Lizard King

    • Civis Illustris
    Ah, I know. :doh: 'Lithuanian' was a hasty, and rather bad, example. I was just trying to think of 'conservative' languages, but Lith really only retains the neuter morphology in o-stem adjectives, that we see in such lovely Balto-Slavic one-word sentences like 'Жарко' (Lith Šilta.)
    You know I always cater to my boys the Slavs.
    Godmy likes this.
  11. Hemo Rusticus The Lizard King

    • Civis Illustris
    That is very well said, pardie!

    It does seem a little unfortunate on the face of it, but we have to assume that the perceived 'gender' of the grammatical categories was nominal at best, and that the Romans no more than the Greeks or ancient Indic peoples ascribed an inherent 'masculinity/femininity' to things like 'anger' or 'watercress'. Or maybe at least in some cases it was the other way around: since θάνατος is an inherited masculine formation, then the god Θάνατος, when first personified and by whomever, must also be male.
    Last edited by Hemo Rusticus, Nov 6, 2018
  12. Perhaps, though not grammatical (oops, forgot an "of" in there)! :eek:

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