Tutorial: The Formation of Latin Stem Compounds

By Diaphanus, in 'General Latin Chat (English)', Sep 16, 2008.

  1. Diaphanus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    PDF: The Formation of Latin Stem Compounds

    This tutorial explains the general "rules" for the formation of what I refer to as Latin Stem Compounds -- compound words whose stems are made up of other Latin word stems. It also lists examples of compound words and the words used in their formation.

    Any comments and suggestions would be welcome.

    Note: Stem is used in the same way that it is used in Allen and Greenough's New Latin Grammar. So, for example, the stem of puella is puella-, not puell-.
  2. Iynx Consularis

    • Consularis
    1. Very interesting. I never realized that the thing was so systematic.

    2. I would have the following comments:

    a. I would prefer "indeclinable" to "undeclinable".

    b. I have difficulty with the concept of an "indeclinable stem". To my way of thinking numerals (for example) are indeclinable words, without "stems" in a way that makes sense to me.

    b. On page (2), in the penultimate line, there is a "Compound" that should probably be "Compounds".

    3. Thank you for posting this.
  3. Diaphanus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Thank you very much, Iynx. I appreciate your comments.

    The normal "rules" in Latin tend to be more regular than the "rules" in Greek. I think that has something to do with the fact that Greek was more compound-word-friendly than Latin in the sense that a) there are more compounds in Greek, and b) there are several acceptable ways to compound words. Although Greek more often than not used o as the default Connecting Vowel, it was common not to change a final vowel to o. Latin tended to settle with i more often than not. You could write agoraphobia in Greek instead of agorophobia without much of a problem, but Latin would favor alipes over alapes.

    I recommend the article The Form of Nominal Compounds in Latin by George D. Chase for anyone interested in Latin compound formation.

    I'll change that.

    I was a bit unsure about how to describe such words. Perhaps I could use something like "Indeclinable substantive, adjective, or verbal word forms may be used as stems for the sake of compounding."

    So, we have something like septemfluus, where the septem is conceived as a stem, but it doesn't take an extra Connecting Vowel.

    That's a typo.

    You're welcome. I want to work on a sequel to this that deals with some common oddities and exceptions to the regular "rules." (Numerals words don't compound as regularly.) And I want to have a tutorial about Syntactic or "Pseudo-" Compounds like manuscriptus, respublica, aquaeductus, suicidium, and such.
  4. Diaphanus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Bump post.

    I just wanted to say that I updated this.

    There are some corrections and additions. The section on Second Parts related to verb stems has been expanded. There is also a new section about monosyllabic stems.
  5. Diaphanus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    I am bumping this thread again.

    The new version of my tutorial is ready. I have made so many changes to the tutorial that I might as well call this version 2.0.

    And here is the new URL:


    As usual, comments and suggestions are welcome.

    My tutorial for the formation of Syntactic Compounds will be ready soon.

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